Make Your Own Folding Shelves for Craft Show Displays

I sold my wares at a craft show a couple weeks ago. Well, it was the La Leche League Conference of Western PA really. I love doing LLL shows, because all the attendees are in my target market. And I love La Leche League.

I had my son when I was 22. NONE of my other friends had kids at that point, and it created a rift between us. I was too shy to find out about LLL and go to meetings when I first had Caleb. But when he was about 8-9 months he went through a biting phase, and I called a LLL leader to ask for advice. Her advice wasn’t anything that I hadn’t tried before, but she did invite me to come to a meeting.

And so I did. At once, I felt at home. Granted I was shy and quiet, but being around other mothers that all wanted to treat their children with kindness and give them the best start was wonderful. I was feeling like the odd man out at home since I was still nursing and sharing a bed with my son, and it was great to go somewhere that I would be celebrated and not condemned for following my instincts.

I met some wonderful friends through the groups too. Some I’ve lost touch with since moving away, but some that will be friends for life (at least I hope!). I didn’t really need help with breastfeeding-my son was great from the start (lol, getting him to UNlatch was the problem), but talking to other mothers with the same priorities was invaluable. And I could share my experiences to help other women.

But back to the show. I wanted to create a 3 dimensional space on my table. Toys are on shelves at stores, and that is the way we are used to looking at them, so I needed a shelf. I wanted a folding shelf, but the cost was prohibitive. But after searching the internet for weeks (on and off), I found my answer.


It was simple. Looked easy enough to build. And most importantly, it didn’t take much wood. I can’t see wasting loads of wood building a shelf, when I could use that same wood to build toys. This shelf is clearly tapered in the front, but I found another example that was a bit cruder, and convinced me that it would be easy.


I only had a table at this show, and I wanted to start small anyway to see how well they worked, so I shrunk the design down to fit on a table top. I cut boards the size that I thought they ought to be, and started assembling.

After I got the first one made, I saw that I would have to shrink my shelving boards down to about 1×8 boards instead of the 1×10’s that I had been planning on, because since the shelves are on at an angle I needed to make the boards they rested on longer than the actual 1×10. Of course I knew that before, but I still didn’t make them enough longer than 9.5 inches.

How I Made It

First I decided how tall I wanted it, and guessed (wrongly it turned out) about how wide to make the crossbars. I thought 1×2’s would be a good size for the boards. I cut the boards with my miter saw. Well, first I ripped the boards from 1×4’s that I had, which is why they are not quite the same width (I wanted to give my fingers some extra space on one side of the table saw), then I cut them to size on my miter saw.

Then I glued them together, well I tried, but I didn’t really have enough clamps to do it properly, since the joint I was glue was tenuous, and I was impatient to get it made anyway. So I started putting in the screws before the glue was dry, and the second one, I didn’t bother to glue at all. But gluing would be helpful to do first.


I used my kitchen floor to do this on for a flat (relatively) level surface. By propping one side on the other side, my drill was at just the right height to drill the holes. I predrilled and countersunk, and then screwed in my screws.


To make sure the crossbars matched up on both sides, I laid them out on top of each other, and clamped them together.


After both sides were done, I put the hinges on the sides. I just used the hinges I already had, that I use for my kitchens, but if I were buying them, I probably would have gotten them larger than these. But it worked just fine.


After they were together, I sanded all the endges smooth and round, cuz that’s just what I do. And somehow one end didn’t quite match up, so I trimmed that. I thought about staining them walnut, but the show was the next day, and I didn’t want them to still be wet, or to be stinkin’ up my display area. So I left them natural.

The next thing to figure out was what to use for shelves. I didn’t have but one 1×8 board in the basement, and I didn’t relish going out to buy boards at full price (I usually buy them on sale) just for shelves. I wandered around the house and the basement saying to myself, “I’ve got to have SOMETHING that will work. I must!” And then I glanced over at the half empty box of laminate floor pieces leftover from doing my downstairs bathroom. They were just the right width, just the right length, and I felt like a genius.

Of course I forgot to take any pictures when I was actually at the show, so here’s one I took on my kitchen table with a few token toys. At the show I set them up on both ends of a six (8?) foot table and then put more toys on the table between them. I had the Little Kitchen and the Wooden Dollhouse on boxes in front of the table.

town, tomb, and fair 076

You could make these any size. I have a mind to make some full sized ones for outdoor shows where I have more space. For that I’d definitely add a few more hinges and maybe larger hinges. You can also use 2 together like they did in the pottery pictures and run longer boards between them both. This set up gives you more stability too.

Well, I told myself I had to make a tutorial for these shelves, because I couldn’t find one anywhere, and it would have been helpful.

I might actually sell these, so if you are not inclined to make your own, just drop me a line, and I’ll see what I can do about getting you some.

I have another idea for shelves too, so keep an eye out for my next tutorial.


8 thoughts on “Make Your Own Folding Shelves for Craft Show Displays

  1. It looked great in person! Also, I loved that you thought to take pictures. I just built x racks, and at the end realized I should have been documenting the process.

    • I took pictures specifically because I couldn’t find anyone else online that had done so, and I wanted to have a resource out there for seeing how they are built.

  2. Pingback: Best Show EVER! | Mama Made Them

  3. Hi i really love your shelving, they are just what i am looking for, i need something like this to display my bottles of shampoo and conditioners on etc, they weigh a bit so it needs to be strong, this would sit at the back of my table, how much would it cost to get one of these made for my products?
    My name is Sue OF SueG Happy skin products, tele 01362 696897 email

  4. Pingback: Make Your Own Ladder Shelf for your Craft Show Display | Mama Made Them

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