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!
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 a 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.
-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
-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)
-ruler or t-square
*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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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