Create a Custom Natural Wall Art Piece With Wooden Shims

I have a fond love of decorating with do-it-yourself wall art. Filling bare walls can become pretty expensive with custom art pieces and that is only when you can actually find something that truly fits your style and personality. You get exactly what you looking for when you create your own pieces and it is not only fun to stretch your imagination, but far less expensive to fill any size space.


I wanted to bring some natural rustic elements into the living room and started playing around with some wooden shims I had left over from this piece I created for the holidays. I remembered seeing a decorating show once where they made a wooden focal wall and loved the idea and warmth it added to the space. Needless to say I only had one pack of shims which wasn’t getting me that far, so I headed off to the hardware store. Eight dollars and six packs of shims later I had a one of a kind art piece that turned out better than I envisioned.

Materials Needed:
A Piece of Cut Plywood or 1/4 inch thick Scrap Wood
Molding, Trim or Scrap Wood
8 inch Wood Shims {I used 6 packs}
Gorilla Wood Glue
Wood Finishing Stain

Tools Needed: Stapler, Clamps, and Glue Gun

This piece can be made any size however this tutorial is for a finished piece measureing 24 inches tall and 33 1/2 inches wide.


Begin with a piece of plywood cut to 24 inches tall X 33 1/2 inches wide. I used a piece of Luan that is fairly light weight and pretty inexpensive running about $10 for an 8ft piece. If you do not have a circular saw to cut your wood, your local hardware store is usually more than happy to make the cuts for you – just have your dimensions together. You can also check the scrap bin {usually found by the cutting station in the store} for pieces. Sometimes you can find exactly what you are looking for under a $1 a piece.

For a finished look I used 3/4 inch wood strips to make a simple frame around the edge. {two 24 inch pieces and two 32 inch pieces} Decorative molding and trim can also be used – just take the dimensions into consideration when making your cuts.

The dimensions of the cut plywood above is calculated based on using 4 rows of 17 {8 inch} shims and 3/4 inch molding.


Attach the molding to the outside of the plywood with Gorilla Wood Glue and clamp in place to dry.


I used an easy end to edge frame butt joint for the corners instead of worrying about miter cuts.

Once the glue is dry, turn the plywood over and run staples into the back of the wood to reinforce the hold. I used a hand stapler and 3/4 inch staples to ensure they were long enough to go through the plywood and into the molding.


Your now ready to layout the shims. Wood shims are very inexpensive and can be found at your local hardware store running just $1.30 for a pack of twelve. {For the size of this particular piece, six packs were used} Shims are not the best top quality wood so you may have to go through the pack and weed out any that are cracked or just not up to par. These can be laid out in any pattern – though I just chose to alternate them in straight lines as shown above.

The surface of each shim was then lightly sanded and glued into place. I started out using wood glue but noticed that it was making the wood curl and buckle so I ended up hot gluing them all in place.


Once the shims are in place and completely filling the frame, the piece can be painted or stained as you like.

I originally applied an oil stain and began wiping it off as the suggested on the can however, because the shims are not of the best quality, the color really did not take and it was soak right up as shown above.


To get a deep true color I had to apply a heavy coat of the stain and just let it sit {without wiping}. It will take a few hours to completely dry but produces much better results with true color.


Though a real fine woodworker may cringe at the thought of using inexpensive shims, I love the character and charm each individual stained piece adds to the total look. It’s just the right amount of rustic warmth I was looking for – yet still a unique piece with a little modern twist.

Hope you have a wonderful day – Enjoy!

                  

Comments

  1. That is great! I love it. Painting it white and then sanding it would be super cute too. Hmmm. Thank you for sharing. Im one of your newest followers.

  2. Oh, Stephanie, your wood wall looks so great – what a fantastic idea!!! I love it!

    Hugs

    Tine

  3. Beautiful (as usual)! Thanks for sharing.

  4. This is such a clever idea! Using shims is so creative, thanks for the tutorial.

  5. shared on fb! I love this!

  6. That is so cool. You are so creative and have such original ideas.

  7. This is absolutely gorgeous!!! Course I would try to faux finish em to look like barn wood! :)

  8. Love It… Very natural, rustic and earthy! Great step by step DIY!

    Sure Fit Slipcovers

  9. i love this!

  10. This is absolutely great! Another idea I am going to have to try… but maybe I should actually finish one project (or 100) before I add to my list!!

  11. This is amazing!! Thanks for sharing!

  12. What a great piece of custom artwork! I personally like making my own too. I love the look of the natural wood.

  13. This is great. I think this would also make a cool headboard!!

  14. Stephanie, this piece is just absolutely beautiful. We are hoping to buy a 200 year old farmhouse, and I think something like this would look incredible hanging over the fireplace in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing and inspiring.

  15. When I read the title I didn’t expect that I was going to like the piece, but this is awesome! I’m putting this on my to do list for when I move to my new house :)
    -Stefanie
    2ndChanceCreations.etsy.com

  16. What a great idea! My grandfather was so handy and I miss him so much, he would have helped me re-create this in a heartbeat!

  17. What a great piece of art! Thanks for sharing all the details. I will be saving this post for a future project!

  18. LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Thanks for sharing your creativity :)

  19. Cute idea! Inexpensive, looks great, quick project. What more could I ask for? Perfect!! =D

  20. Great project…wouldn’t a b/w photo of an old barn or building look neat mounted in the center of it?

  21. That is so cool Stephanie Lynn!!! I love it!! I love they way you changed the directions of the shims – it makes it look so interesting!

  22. Very cool!
    ‘hugs from afar’

  23. Oh this is a very cool way to dimension to a wall of just some interest other than a painting. Love It!

  24. wow that’s AWESOME!!

  25. How do you think of these projects??? It really looks fantastic!

  26. oh my word – fantastic and SO unique! thanks for visiting my little blog too!

  27. I love the texture and dimension of it! I imagine making the same thing and staining and painting it to look like flag would also look awesome! – Karen

  28. This is great!

  29. I love the dimension and the warmth it adds to the space. As always, very clever!

  30. This is Gorgeous! Could even be used as a headboard! Love it!

  31. Looks beautiful. TFS. Bug Hugs :D

  32. I just love this Stephanie!!! Wouldn’t that make an amazing headboard? Kinda reminds me of something David Broomstat did on Design star. Just love the feel of it!

  33. This is so rustically beautiful. I can’t believe you made it out of wood shims. Unbelievably creative!

  34. Wow Stephanie….I never would have thought of something like this. It looks unbelievable.

    Take care,
    Lisa

  35. Stephanie – Another creative use for wood shims; great job! I made something similar but even simpler to construct. I called it Shim Chic. http://veryirie.blogspot.com/2010/05/shim-chic.html Instead of staining, I opted to use the plain polycrylic because it brought out the various colors in the wood shims.

  36. LOVE this!! Natural wood is my style.. just haven’t gotten into the painting everything white scene.

  37. OK Stephanie! You are OFFICIALLY The QUEEN of AMAZING DIY and CREATIVITY!!! You NEVER fail to make my Jaw Drop!!!
    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE you blog!

    I KNOW you are super busy, but if you ever have a moment I would LOVE for you to visit my blog :0) Along with probably 8 billion other Blog Gals that want you to visit them! LOL!

    blessings xoxokara

  38. oh that is so awesome…. ooooooo it would be great in another color too! You could do so much with this!! Great job! And now that my internet is back up and running I can grab your feature button! Thanks again!! <3

  39. Sheer. Genius.

  40. Love it… very creative!

  41. holy cow I LOVE this project… amazing!
    malia
    http://www.yesterdayontuesday.com

  42. yeah, so you are my new girl crush now, I LOVE this!

  43. Gorgeous! I love how this turned out! :)

  44. Oh goodness… I always get so much bang for my click over here. :) I LOVE this background effect! Coolest and most creative idea ever!

    I’ve featured you on SNS #67′s sidebar this weekend. :)

    Donna
    http://funkyjunkinteriors.blogspot.com/

  45. Love the project, I think it would be cute over my fireplace…hmmm
    Christine
    greatoakcircle.com

  46. wow, that’s awesome! i love the dimension to it. you are ridiculously talented!

  47. That is really great, i love the texture and earthiness to it. Nice project!!

  48. So clever!!!

  49. As a fine woodworker, I think this could inspire creativity with other scraps of wood!

  50. Wow! I can’t believe how cool it is and easy to make. Of to a hardware store I go!

  51. This looks expensive! brilliant idea!

  52. I’ve thought about doing my entire new office dormer like this, but with either pallet lumber or wooden lathe. You can buy wooden lathe @ the hardware store by the bundle. It’s used for plaster walls. The effect would be more random but very cool..

  53. I adore you! Love everything you do! ;0)

  54. Wow. Just found you through Tatertots and Jello. You have got some incredible projects on here! This post is great – I have so been into wood wall art lately. I’ve never heard of shims. Are they the same thing as furring strips?

  55. Hi Leslie – The shims are a tad bit different than furring strips. They can be found in the lumber section of the hardware store. Furring strips are straight where shim have a slope to them. I tried to email you back but there was no email on file…Thanks for visiting and the kind comments! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  56. I just wanted to let you know that I featured your project today on “You Sew Rock Me Fridays” on my blog Sew Rockin’. Awesome job! I can’t wait to see what you come up with in the future!

    You can find the post at http://www.sewrockin.com/2011/10/28/you-sew-rock-me-fridays-2/

    Jamie @ sewrockin.com

  57. I love this and I love your blog~so many inspiring ideas! I made one this past weekend and it turned out great with the help of your fabulous directions! I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it already. Thanks for the inspiration!

  58. Love this – thinking it would make a great headboard! Your newest follower.
    Kelly

  59. I’m going to do your project as a headboard for sure! I think I want to use some of the new bright color stains and have random color popping in and out. Thanks!!!!

  60. I just saw this project, and I love it! I’m thinking it would be a great thing to put on my mantel, to fill up the space a bit and provide a backdrop for smaller items.

  61. Stephanie, almost every time I visit your blog, I stop to see this beautiful wall art! I think I want to make a skinny version (two shims wide) and tea/vinegar stain it. I think it would be such a great kitty scratching surface and would look beautiful at the same time! You are so creative!

        

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