Modern Peg Rail & Shelf DIY

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Peg rails are handy little fellas to have around the house. They're great for hanging hats, jackets, towels, and well, pretty much anything you can hang or drape on a peg! There's a small wall between the doorway and window in our kitchen, and while I had considered hanging art there, the pragmatic colonial-girl-wanna-be (Felicity Merriman forever!) inside me said, "A shaker peg rail would be perfect!" I checked out a few places online where I could buy a peg rail, but I couldn't find one that fit my exact specifications and style. So I did what any gal with a power drill should do, and that is— I made my own!

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!The peg rail I was looking for needed to be something minimal in style, have a shelf, be painted white, and measure just under 24" to fit the space on my wall. I thought about buying this Crate and Barrel peg rail because I loved the style of the minimal pegs, and I could always trim down the sides with a chop saw…. But penny pincher that I am, I wanted to see if I could make one for less money*. Check out the details below to see how you can make your own custom peg rail and shelf!

*If you don't have the tools required, this project will probably cost more than a peg rail you can buy in stores. I have accumulated these tools over time and find them to be very useful for little projects around the house or for the many DIY projects I share here.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Materials:
-1" x 3" piece of lumber* to your length requirement / 1" x 3" x 2' $3
-1" x 4" piece of lumber* to your length requirement / 1" x 4" x 2' $4
-dowel rod to your diameter requirement* / $2.50
-circular pieces of wood or wood plugs a bit larger than the dowel diameter— buy one for each peg / $1
-Kreg screws for joining the rail to the shelf / $4 for a pack— you will only need a few
-screws for mounting the rail— I only used two / $1.50 for a pack
-drywall anchors if you aren't drilling into a stud / $2 for a pack
-button plugs (size depends on your countersink bit) / $2.50 for a pack
-180 grit sandpaper (not shown) / $3
-stain, primer, and paint as desired / $8 at most
-wood glue / $4

Total Cost (if none of these materials are already in your possession): $35
My Cost (I only needed to buy the wood and mounting screws): $13

Tools:
-power drill
-Kreg Jig for joining the rail to the shelf (This kit is perfect.)
-hole saw, Forstner bit, regular drill, or spade bit to the exact size of your dowel rod
-regular drill bit for mounting screws
-countersink drill bit (not shown)
-clamps
-hammer
-ruler or t-square
-pencil

*Lumber Selection: I used 24" long pieces of poplar. Don't buy softwood for this project or your pegs may loosen over time. I chose poplar because it's denser than the cheap whitewoods you find at Lowes or Home Depot, and while it usually doesn't stain nicely (unless you find a piece without yellowy grain throughout), it takes paint very well.

*Dowel & Cap Selection: I chose a 5/8" diameter dowel and capped it with a 1" wood circle, but this size isn't narrow enough for many of my mugs. Think about what you will be hanging on the peg before you select the diameter of the dowel and wood circle. Your pegs may need to be narrower than mine.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Begin this project with the rail and shelf lumber cut to your desired size. If you don't have a saw at home, the lumber yard should be happy to do this for you. My boards were cut to 23".

Step One: Mark the points where you want your pegs to be. I started my outermost pegs at 2.5" from the edge of my rail.

Step Two: Drill holes at the marked points. I used a spade bit here because it's the only thing I had access to when I was working on this project. But it didn't make clean cuts, so I had to fill the chipped areas with wood filler. No biggie, but a Forstner bit or self feeding hole saw would be ideal for this.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Step Three: Sand the entire rail with 180 grit sandpaper.

Step Four: Using a Kreg Jig and a clamp, drill a few pocket holes where you will connect the rail to the shelf. Make sure you do this on the bad side of your wood, if you have a bad side. I made four pilot holes for my 23" rail.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Step Five: Clamp together the shelf and rail. Then connect them by driving Kreg screws through the pocket holes you made in step four.

Step Six: Cut your dowels all to the same length. Then sand them down. I cut mine to 2.75" long, but your desired measurement may differ. If you don't have a saw, the lumber yard should be able to make a few cuts for you.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Step Seven: Apply wood glue to the inside of the peg holes.

Step Eight: The pegs should fit tightly into the holes, so you will probably need to use a hammer to tap the pegs into place. Make sure the pegs don't go through the back of the rail, and be sure they are all the same length from the rail before letting the glue dry.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Step Nine: After you have made sure all of the pegs are the same length from the rail, wipe away the excess glue on the backside of the rail.

Step Ten: Apply wood glue to the end of the pegs and attach the wooden discs, applying a bit of pressure. Be sure to wipe away any glue that seeps out before it dries.

At this point, the rail is ready to be stained or painted. I used the same brush-on primer and paint I used for refinishing my kitchen cabinets. After a thick coat of primer, I wet sanded the shelf with 400 grit wet/dry sanding paper to make it silky smooth. Then I finished with a coat of paint.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Step Eleven: Drill pilot holes where you will be mounting the rail, and use a countersink drill bit to carve out a space for the button plugs to go in. Make sure the plugs fit before continuing.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Step Twelve: Screw the shelf into place on the wall, making sure it's level. If you aren't drilling into studs, you will need to use drywall anchors that, when added up, meet the package's listed requirements to carry the approximate weight you plan to put on the shelf.

Step Thirteen: Cover the screws with button plugs. If your countersink bit was the same size as the plugs, then the fit should be tight enough to make glue unnecessary.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!I love the modern look that the wooden discs lend to this DIY rail, but if you're having trouble finding a dowel and disc combo that fits your mugs, you may decide to use a traditional Shaker peg instead.

Make your own peg rail- perfect for accessorizing in the kitchen!If you plan on styling your shelf with plain canisters, mugs, or utensils, it would be really fun to paint the peg caps with bright colors or even a dramatic black. I love that this project can be completely customizable to fit the needs of your space. I'm thinking about making one for my bathroom next! –Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella of the Signature Collection and Pearl and Eleanor of the Fresh Collection.

  • Hi! I love Mandis creations, I think they are very cute. However, I wanted to tell you you that the images look a lot overexposed I can hardly see details, and I have my screen bright to the minimum, so if Mandi can balance the exposure it would be great! 😉 Thank you very much and keep on going girls! 🙂

  • You did a great job!

    I’m a big peg and shelf girl myself! I love nik-naks and keeping the little gifts people give me or I collect from my travels, etc. But that means I always need more space to store them on so my house doesn’t look cluttered! Putting up shelves in one of my projects this weekend 🙂

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  • If you’re concerned about the discs coming off, Gorilla Glue would be the answer. The bond it creates with dampened wood would only be broken if you went after it with a hammer or a saw. I like that the discs stick up more than a shaker rail because towels don’t slip off like they do with shaker pegs, but admittedly a shaker peg would be better for things like mugs. My main reasoning behind not using the shaker peg is just vanity. I think the discs look cooler. 🙂 -Mandi

  • There’s a lot of white going on in these images, so if your computer screen is prone to high contrast, that might prohibit you from seeing these as they’re meant to be seen. On my computer monitor and mobile devices they don’t look over exposed. I remember the monitors in the computer lab at my school would also blow everything out, which drove me crazy when I was working on my interior design projects there. -Mandi

  • just reading this – and looking at the power tools, and thinking about how my husband isn`t so big on diy that would involve said tools…

    and realizing, hell i should get my own tools.

    i have to admit i might do a bit of eye rolling at your diy`s at times bc they seem so far out of reach for me (someone who feels super handy just wielding a tape measure let alone power tools)…

    but – having said that – you know what would be amazing – a post that outlines the key power tools (ie. the most popular ones) that you find you use for diys and home improvement – and which projects they`re applicable to, so someone like me could get dreaming and scheming. i really would like to make my own office furniture for example!

    hope you`ll consider a post like this. and disregard anything above that may seem like haterade just saying it how it is. your blog is my absolute favorite, hands down.

    ps google chrome does not give the option of commenting without an account.

  • Love the shoutout to Felicity!
    Your kitchen has many elements I hope to add to the kitchen in my 102 year old home! It’s also helping me convince my husband that wooden block countertops are rad!

  • Such a sweet project! I love the blue ball jars, too. There’s something about ball jars that make any space look a bit more country-polished. 🙂

  • Yes, I’ve shared where they were from in posts about the cabinets, but I can share again! The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Black Panther, the circular knobs are just generic knobs from the hardware store, and the long brass bar pulls are Lew Dolan brand/designer. -Mandi

  • Definitely! I think that would be an excellent idea for a post. I’ll see what we can do. Also— my husband has never been one to wield power tools until recently. I think he feels like he has to step up his game or something. haha! -Mandi

  • Yup. That American Girl reference made me love you even more. Thanks for sharing this project and keep ’em coming! I love it all 🙂

  • I love that you made this on your own. I like it better than the Crate and Barrel one because of the shelf. Pinning this for later. We have a spot in our kitchen that I would love to have something like this peg rail.

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