Inspiration on how to make your own DIY wood corbels with wood you may already have in your stash and how to distress them to make them look like they have been around for a long time. Amazing for a table, placing in the top of a doorway or as simple decor.
What did you do with your entryway? Oh, me? I just placed an old dresser in it and there it stayed. For the last two years!
It just kind of landed there without any thought to why it was there. It came into the new house, we set it down, and it just stayed there.
And I didn’t think about it again….until I did.
Since the space isn’t that big, I didn’t want a table protruding too far into the space nor one that I didn’t love. So, much like my last house, I embarked on building another entry way table.
I began to google wood corbels to purchase. Etsy was a great resource and I was so close to pulling the trigger, but I really didn’t want to spend $450 per corbel for the size I wanted.
So, I did the natural thing that came to my mind. I decided I would try to make them myself – for free. If you know me then you’re not surprised. On a whim I started looking into my stash of wood and found some 2×6 boards in the basement.
I told myself I could always buy them if they didn’t work out. But, I find that things always seem to work out if I just try.
What you will need to make your own corbels:
- Wood. You may have some in your stash or you may have to go to the store and purchase wood that is large enough for the size you want your corbels to be. Mine would be 5.5″ deep so I used my 2x6s.
- Template – I used printer paper taped together for length
- Miter Saw (optional: to cut your 2×6 into pieces if needed or you can use your jigsaw)
- Table or track saw (if you want to cut the long straight side of your corbels, completely optional)
- Jig saw
- Wood glue
- Nails/nail gun (nails and hammer or screws are optional if you don’t have a nail gun)
- Wood filler (if you want to fill the gaps)
- Distressing tools – hammer, chisel, nail punch, wire brush (all optional)
- Stain of choice
- 4 D-rings (if hanging on the wall or in a doorway)
I wasn’t sure how I would do it, or what it would look like in the end, but my mind was made up. I was going to make this work!
FREE is one of my favorite words. And these would be free if they worked out.
I really wanted them long – to be table height and almost touch the baseboard – and I wanted them to be simple and really distressed. Like I happened upon them in an old barn. My decor style is not farmhouse. But I wanted more of that Restoration Hardware look.
I needed inspiration for the shape of the corbels and needed to find the perfect, simple outline. I looked around my house and found that my dining table base was exactly the shape I was going for.
Here is how made them:
Step 1. I traced the outline on printer paper that I taped together. I adjusted the outline a little to fit what I wanted and then head out to the garage. I cut the template and traced the outline from my taped paper onto one of the boards.
Step 2. I cut the rounded edges off of one side of my 2×6 boards with my track saw so that when I glued them together the edges that were on the back would be more sharp and glue together nice and flat.
Step 3. Then I took my jig saw and started cutting around the outline from my template.
It was hard to cut through the 2×6 but I just took my time and got through it. I had to change the blade to one that cut the wood more easily. After tracing and cutting 7 more pieces my hand was cramping but I was so determined to make this work out.
Step 4. Each piece wasn’t cut perfectly, but the general outline of the shape was there. Taking my nail gun and wood glue, I began to glue and nail one cut out piece to the next. I did that with the first four to create one corbel. I repeated the same steps with the other 4 pieces and I now had two corbels.
The end result would be two corbels that were 26″L x 6″W x 5.5″D each. These are rather large.
And I LOVE THEM!
I still needed to work some magic.
Step 5. Once the glue was dried I took my orbital sander with 80 grit sandpaper and got to work sanding off all of the rough and uneven edges and making them all even. It was so easy and made such a difference.
Once they were more even I changed to a 180 grit paper and repeated the sanding. Then I filled in all the gaps between the pieces of wood with wood filler and let it dry.
**TIP: MAKE YOUR OWN WOOD FILLER. Take the sawdust from the project you’re working on and combine it with a little wood glue. Then use that as wood filler! It is easy to sand, makes a solid fill and when you stain it, it will match the rest of your project because you used the sawdust from the wood you’re working on!
Once dried I had to sand them once again.
I now had two corbels that looked amazing after some sanding. They didn’t start that way with all of their rough edges and uneven surfaces, but sanding made that all go away.
They were so close, but not quite what I wanted yet. I still needed them to give them that “found” look.
Step 6. It was time to distress them. To do this I took a hammer, a chisel, a nail punch and this wire brush set that attaches to my drill and got to work.
I pounded the edges with the hammer, ran my chisel down the sides to create deep grooves and chiseled away some of the edges, and pounded my nail set into all sides of the wood in groups of 3-5 holes in one spot to make it look like small worm holes. Then attached the wire brush to my drill and made deep brush marks. I kept going like that until I had a result I loved.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Just go until you achieve the look you want.
They look amazing. Just what I wanted. Perfectly imperfect.
Step 7. Next up? Wood conditioner and stain. The wood conditioner allows the base you start with the same on all pieces and also soaks into the wood so that the stain is more consistent when you apply it. I loved the way the wood looked when I added the conditioner and would have left them a natural color, but they wouldn’t look good with my flooring so I opted to do a darker color with stain.
Once the conditioner was applied I added my first layer of wood stain. I was using a combination of two different stains.
The first layer was a Minwax opaque stain that I had custom colored at Lowes. They have an entire collection of different colors available to choose from. I chose opaque so that it would cover the wood (since each 2×6 had a different tone) and make them look the same.
Then I ran a darker stain on top of that. You can see what a difference it makes. All the little details just POP!
The color turned out better than I had hoped for and matches my flooring so well. I wasn’t going for an exact match, but more of a cooler, darker tone/color since my floors have so much dark gray in them.
Step 8. I added D-Rings on the backs of the corbels because I was making a table top for them so I needed to hang them on the wall. The rings were so easy to install onto the backs of each corbel. I measured down from the top the same distance on all corbels and screwed the rings onto them. Then I used my level to draw a line on the wall to hang them for the table top.
I think they turned out perfect! See how amazing they look with my floors?
The beauty of DIY is it is totally customizable. What else can you do with corbels like this?
These would be amazing as decor if you made a small one and added it to a shelf, made bookends or hung two in a passthrough/doorway in the upper corners for architectural detail. I actually might do this in the doorway leading from my entry to my main room.
So many possibilities! I hope you found some inspiration to try making your own. Tag me @aprilcolleen on IG and show me your creation!