Make Your Own Shiplap

2 Materials
2 Hours

The most popular accent wall right now is shiplap. Made famous mostly by Joanna Gaines, star of HGTV's Fixer Upper. Learn how to make your own shiplap
Select your boards
First you will need to select the boards that you desire. I recommend a 1"x 6" board of some sort. Keep in mind that if you will be painting the shiplap, try to use a more inexpensive board since the results of painting won't be affected by which species of wood you choose.
1/2" Rabbet bit with bearing
You will need a rabbet bit to make the lap joints. You can find this bit at home stores for about $30. This bit has a bearing on top to stop the depth of the cut. You will need a 1/2" rabbet bit.
Squaring the fence
You do not need to use a fence to make the cuts, but I highly recommend it. The fence is a safety precaution to help you have better control of the boards while cutting. Make sure the fence is lined up with the bearing on the bit for accurate results. If using the bearing only, make sure to have a very firm grip on the boards when you make your cuts.
Determine thickness of board
You will need to determine what thickness the board is. Most 1" x 6" boards are truly 3/4" x 5-1/2".

Adjust bit height
Once you determine the thickness of your board, you will need to adjust the height of the bit to exactly one half of the thickness of the board.
For example, if you have a 3/4" board you will need the bit height at 3/8".
Making the first cut
Once height is adjusted, safely pass the material through the bit. I recommend safety glasses and breathing protection. As you can see from the picture, there is a lot of debris.
Notice how the laps are staggered.
Next, flip the board on its back and make the cut again.
It is very important that you flip the board on the opposite side of what you previously cut. If you do not flip the board the correct way. You will have wasted material. (see picture)
This is the lap joint you create
What you should end up with is a tight lap joint that is flush on both sides of the board. This is a true shiplap board and it is very easy to make.

Suggested materials:

  • 1" x 6" Common Board  (Home Depot)
  • 1/2" Rabbet Bit  (Home Depot)

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 8 questions
  • Nannanpat
    on Aug 6, 2017

    When you start placing the ship lap on the wall do you start at the top or bottom of the wall? Also, Would I nail the boards onto my wall it glue? If I nail them, which type of nail do I use?
    • Jacx
      on Aug 7, 2017

      It most likely gets blind nailed, like a floor. Top one, nailed on the thin part, cover it up with next board, continue on this way till the last row. The nails are hidden by the trim On the last row. At least, tthat's how I'd do it. Anyone got more info?
  • Annemie
    on Aug 7, 2017

    Does shiplap help with noise reduction? I want to clad the walls in my unit with something that will help keep noise out...
    • Liliana Wells
      on Aug 21, 2017

      Also consider replacing the window(s). When we had new windows installed in an older home that had single pane glass, the noise reduction was quite pleasant. Good luck.
  • Trudie
    7 days ago

    Do you treat the boards for bugs?

Join the conversation

3 of 12 comments
  • Patt Knapp-Meredith
    on Aug 14, 2017

    Sorry this isn't a question but I wanted to thank you for showing me what a ship lap is. I kept seeing it mentioned but didn't know what it was . Don't have the tools but sure like the idea
    • Jim Cox
      on Apr 10, 2019

      With a bit of patience, and some scrap wood for practice, you can get really close with just a table saw cutting each edge 2x. I'd prefer the router myself as well, but If there's a will... : )

  • Meem Kaplan
    on Dec 29, 2019

    Thank you for sharing this. I kept seeing "shiplap" when it was just planked walls... As a former residential building contactor, this is a pet peeve of mine. Guess I must be bored in my retirement, eh? LOL!

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