Project Steps

Comic books are tough to store: the traditional boxes are ugly, and shelving them is super-inconvenient. So, inspired by how they’re displayed in stores, I tossed off these simple shelves in just over an hour.

If you decide to build yourself a set of these shelves (they’d be great for displaying magazines, too!), you don’t necessarily need to have wall or molding abutting the ends—I think they’d work great free-floating or end-to-end on a longer section of wall.

You’ll need (for each section of shelving):

one 1/4 x 1-inch piece of basswood, 24 inches long (your front slats)

one 1/2 x 1/2-inch piece of basswood, 24 inches long (your base piece)

sturdy wire, to the length of your shelf plus about two inches (I used 28-gauge)

two wood nails, 2- to 3-inches long two wood screws

Tools required:

Paint and brushes, if you like. Needle-nose pliers. A small hand saw (if you need to cut wood to length). Hammer. Screwdriver

Cut and paint the wood (about 40 minutes, including drying time).

I painted the flat slats on all sides, though only the top, front, and bottom will be visible to a casual observer.

I only painted the top and bottom of the thicker pieces, though only the bottoms will be visible.

I left the front and back sides unpainted as they will be nailed to the flat slats and the wall.

If you have a place to do it safely, you could easily use spray paint.

Assemble the shelves (five minutes).

Position your long nails approximately a half-inch from the end of each slat, a quarter-inch from the bottom of the shelf (that means centered in the thicker base).

Use my photos as a guide. Drive the nail through the flat piece and nearly all the way into your base piece.

Hang the shelves (5-10 minutes).

Make sure that the shelves are level, and that there is at least a foot of space between them. Use your tallest comic or magazine as a guide. There should be at least two inches of space between the top of the book and the bottom of the shelf above it.

Measure twice, bang once: when you’re certain of the positioning, hammer the nails completely thrrough and into the wall.

If you like, daub some paint over the nail heads to hide them. (Forgive the condition of the walls; my apartment building was built in 1888!)

Hang the wire reinforcements (about 15 minutes).

Use your needle-nose pliers to create a small loop in the wire, large enough for a wood screw. I experimented with wide-head nails, but trust me on the screws.

Start a hole by hammering the tip of the screw into the wall six inches above the top of each shelf: high enough to bear weight, but low enough to accommodate “mini” comics.

Make the wire as snug as you can, using the tension from screwing in the screws to assist.

Fill the shelves with comics! (Time: as long as it takes to curate.)

That’s it! You’ve built some seriously impressive-looking custom comic book or magazine shelves in less than two hours.