Corner Shelves From a Wooden Spool

3 Materials
2 Hours

Wooden spools are interesting finds, and can be used for several decor styles. Here is how we converted one spoil into two corner shelves.

Being terrible at remembering to take before pictures, I don’t have one of the actual spool we used, but it was very similar to this one. There were a few cracks and some of the boards were warped.

In addition to the spool, we also used some scrap plywood pieces, corner L brackets and included screws, brad nails, and some extremely watered down grey paint and some wood stain to age the plywood to match the spools.

Disassemble spool

The first step is to disassemble the spool by removing the bolts. Depending on how rusty the hardware is, this could be easy, or really hard. You can cut the bolts with a metal grinder if you have to.

After the bolts are removed, the spool kind of falls apart. Prep the wood as needed, such as cleaning or sanding. Cut the top and bottom circles into quarters. We wanted two corner shelves, with two shelves on each, requiring a bottom, middle, and top. We picked the 6 best looking quarters of the 8.

You could easily adapt this for your needs; one tall corner shelf unit with 7 shelves, two units with 3 shelves each, etc.


Cut the tall curved boards to desired height. We wanted the lower section to be a little taller than the top, so we cut the boards as such. The spool quarters have grooves on the one side where the vertical boards sit. Place the cut boards into the grooves.

The grooves are only on one side, not both, so we nailed small blocks on the underside of the middle shelf to hold the curved boards in place.

Because we are not reusing the bolts that held everything together with tension, we used brad nails inserted at an angle to hold the curved boards in place.

To finish the shelf off, we used leftover plywood scraps on the outside of the shelves. These were painted on one side, but we used stain and watered down grey paint to weather the other side to match the spool. Nails were inserted from the outside of the plywood into the middle shelf.

On the inside to stabilize the top and bottom shelves, we used corner L braces. You could also use mending plates on the outside to make them less visible, but we kind of liked the exposed hardware look.

Enjoy your new shelves!

The only thing we had to buy were the L brackets, which were around $5 for a big pack.

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Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Gwen
    on Apr 30, 2020

    I've got 2 small plastic cable spools any suggestions besides tables!

    • Wanda
      on May 2, 2020

      She may be able to use the top or bottom of the round spool to make a lazy susan as well. She would need a smaller circle for the bottom, I'd suggest wood for weight then the circular lazy susan insides to hold the balls so it will spin. That part on not sure if can be bought as a whole or if she's going to need to build it.

      Also, if the spool is large enough, as a child they made great picnic tables when left whole on their bottoms for the children or lined up as a serving buffet with round table clothes on them!

  • Karen
    on May 1, 2020

    Where are some places I might a Free spool

    • Debbi
      on May 11, 2020

      I was fortunate to find someone selling spools, at $15 a piece no matter the size, from the Facebook Marketplace (I bought all 11 of them LOL)

      You can also search the NextDoor (app) selling section and/or contact local electricians in your area. If anything they should be able to direct you where to go!

      I've seen so many different prices attached to the various sizes, the bigger the spool the more expensive they get... once you know what you are looking for (by size & height) you'll find them being sold everywhere... shop around! Some people want ridiculous money for them, they'd rather let them rot in their back yards before letting it go at a decent price.

      Happy hunting 😉

Join the conversation

2 of 11 comments
  • Joanie
    on May 15, 2020

    I agree with Susan Severino.......Nice to see a different idea with the spools........quite a good idea and imagination!!

  • Khree
    on Nov 9, 2020

    I made two side tables similar to yours from my last spool. My first was a pub table from a larger spool. They both turned out beautifully.

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