Box Train Bookshelf Knock-off

Thursday, March 19, 2015 -
Make all three shelves for $40. Box train bookshelf knock-off, with free building plans.

A few weeks ago, I was looking at the adorable, train themed boy's room at The Heathered Nest when I spotted a set of super cute box car bookshelves. After a little research, I discovered they were actually the Box Train Shelves from Pottery Barn Kids, and they've been discontinued.  So, I wrote down the dimension and started building. 

Supply List:
(for 3 shelves)

Cut List:

  • (6) 1 x 8 @ 26" (with corners notched)
  • (6) 1 x 4 @ 6"
  • (3) 1 x 4 @ 24 1/2"
  • (6) 2 x 4 @ 4"
  • (24) 2" wood dowel sliced into 3/4" thick discs 

I wasn't able to find 3/4" thick discs anywhere, so I bought a 3 ft length of 2" diameter wood dowel from Home Depot and sliced off 24 wheels, using my miter saw. If you don't want to go that route, you could buy  *these wood discs and stack them up. 

Once I cut all my boards to length, I needed to notch the corners of all the 26" 1 x 8's. Using a speed square, draw a box 1" high and 6" wide. Measure from the outside edge and make another vertical line at 4 1/2". Then, draw an arc, starting from where the horizontal line and first line intersect, and ending on the second line and bottom edge. 

Using a jigsaw, cut along the line. After the first board is cut, use it as a template to cut remaining 5 boards.

Now, its time to assemble. Attach all pieces with wood glue and 1 1/4" finish nails.

Start by attaching the sides pieces of the box.

Then, add the floor of the box.

 Pre-drill four holes on either end of the bottom board, and connect the 2 x 4 blocks, using glue and 2" wood screws.

Next, attach the front board.

The last step of the build is to add the wheels, but I recommend painting both the box and the wheels separately before adding them. Once painted, attached the wheels using wood glue and at least 2 finish nails through the center area of wheel.

That's it! The shelves are built.

Time to finish them. I really liked the look of the inspiration shelves, so I tried to copy them as closely as possible. I spray just about everything through my paint sprayer. Even though it involves more clean up, it goes SO much faster! 

Each shelf got a different color of Country Chic Paint. Blue = Midnight Sky, green = Forever Green, and red = (1 part Licorice, 4 parts Cranberry Sauce, 8 parts Devotion)

I sweet talked my friend Chanell into cutting a stencil for my lettering on her silhouette (I'm probably the last blogger on Earth without a cutting machine). She shared the PDF file which you can download here. Once the stencil was in place, I sponged on a coat of Simplicity. Even though it's white, this paint has such great coverage, it only took one coat. 

One of the signature designs of these shelves is the oval shaped label on the right side. I created my own label for myself and you guys! Just click on the image, save it, and print it off.

Adding the label is easy. I just brushed a coat of matte  *Mod Podge on the back of the label,

place it, and brush on another coat. 

To mimic the worn look of the Pottery Barn shelves, I sanded down the edges, distressing it a bit.

I sprayed 2 coats of matte lacquer over the whole shelf, giving everything a good layer of protection. I attached each bookshelf to the wall with a DIY french cleat, and here's how they turned out.

Make all three shelves for $40. Box train bookshelf knock-off, with free building plans.

I think I got pretty darn close to the Pottery Barn Kids version. What do you think?

Make all three shelves for $40. Box train bookshelf knock-off, with free building plans.

All three shelves cost about $40, plus paint. Not too shabby. Ready to build you own?!

Make all three shelves for $40. Box train bookshelf knock-off, with free building plans.

Let's be friends! Follow along, so you never miss a post


*The post contains affiliate links and sponsored content. I was compensated with product from Country Chic Paint. I only endorse companies and products I actually use and personally recommend. My opinions are entirely my own.


  1. Adorable, Elisha!

    Am I imagining things or is that crayon on the footboard?

    1. Haha! Good eyes Katie. It's marker actually and WILL NOT scrub off!

  2. These are adorable!! Awesome plans too, pinned!

  3. Just great, Elisha, what child wouldn't love these in their room?

  4. oh my goodness you are fabulous!! I found a pin of these boxes on pinterest and have been racking my brain on how to do the decals and here, from heaven, you came and provided me with a DOWNLOAD!!! Thank you thank you thank you!

  5. Do you have any photos of the frecnh cleat?

  6. What color did you use for the yellow?

    1. Fresh Mustard from Country Chic Paint


Powered by Blogger.