Design and Build your own Corbel

Design your own Corbel-003

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween. We had about 150 or more trick or treaters. I was actually glad they stopped coming when they did or there would have been no chocolate left for me. It didn’t help that I was sampling the candy a week ahead of time.

Well enough talk about chocolate and on to the project at hand. Recently I was looking into getting a pair of vintage corbels to use as shelf brackets. I love the architectural detail, the scrollwork, the chippy paint, it was an awesome idea until I saw how expensive they were.

But how hard could a corbel really be to build? They didn’t really look that difficult… I needed to do some research on price and design.


Set of 3 Antique Wooden Corbels Victorian Brackets Hangers Architectural  eBay - Google Chrome 9272015 22058 PM.bmp

These were on Ebay recently and I assume they’ve already sold. They were a bit unusual in that they were not as tall as they were wide.

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These were originally on etsy but are no longer available.  Love the extra wooden piece that was applied.

I’m really not showing you these just to say you can’t have them, I’m showing you design possibilities.

Two Antique architectural Salvage Wood Corbel by SalvageRelics - Google Chrome 9272015 14433 PM.bmp


These two were found on Etsy and as of Saturday they were still available.

Large Pair Antique Architectural Wood Corbels Victorian Gingerbread 30x24  eBay - Google Chrome 9272015 15414 PM.bmp

These two corbels were another Ebay find. Again, as of Saturday they were still available for sale.

Design your own corbel

And these are from the Mad River Millworks.  They do custom corbels and brackets.  If you have a corbel that is rotting out, they can duplicate it for you…or you can make one for yourself.  That’s where I come in.  You’ll want to make one for yourself, especially when you see how easy they are.

You weren’t supposed to be shopping with all these pictures, they were just to give you some ideas to make your very own. All of the corbels had a flat back, a flat top and varying degrees of scrollwork from super simple to elaborate. 

Design and Build your own corbel

Start designing,  The top and the back need to be flat but the outside edge and interior can be elaborate as you like…this is where you can express your inner Picasso.

Each corbel comes in 3 pieces; one interior piece cut from a 2 inch piece of wood, and 2 outside pieces cut from a 1 inch piece of wood. If you’re using a 10 inch wide piece of wood for the interior piece then your pattern can be no wider than 9 inches.

For a 12 inch piece of wood, make your pattern no wider than 11 inches. The length of the corbel is up to you. My corbel was about 15 inches in length.

Design and Build your own corbel

Start with the interior piece. Trace the flat edges, and the outside scroll work onto a 2 inch wide piece of wood  (a 2 inch wide piece of wood has been milled down to  1  1/2 inches). For mine, I only needed about 20 inches of wood for 2 corbels. This is a great time to use up scrap wood.

Design and Build your own corbel

Cut the lines you just made with a table top scroll saw, a band saw or a jigsaw.

Design and Build your own corbel

Take your same pattern and this time transfer it onto a 1×10 or 1×12 (whatever you used for the first cut).  Use the pattern you made for the flat edges and the interior scroll work but instead of tracing around the pattern for the outside scrollwork draw a line 1/4″ away from the pattern.

Once again, cut out your pattern with a jigsaw or scroll saw.

Design and Build your own corbel

Repeat the last step, but this time you can use the piece you just cut out as the pattern.

Design and Build your own corbel

This is what it should look like when you put your 3 pieces together.

Design and Build your own corbel

Before attaching, all the edges are going to need a good sanding.

Design your own Corbel-001

The three pieces were attached with builders adhesive and a couple of finishing nails to hold everything together.

Design and Build your own corbel

Fill in any nail holes with wood putty and sand.

If you would like your corbel a bit grander, at this time you could attach a top piece and surround it with molding.  It’s up to you, I didn’t have any extra molding on hand….yet

Design and Build your own corbel

Ready for painting.

Of course you can paint your corbel any way you like. Mine were painted with chalk paint.  Started with black on all the edges.  Covered all the black with a coat of gray and finished painting with a coat of white.  The white didn’t quite cover all the gray, that was on purpose.

Final step was to take the electric sander revealing all the layers of paint and a little bit of wood on the edges.

Design and Build your own corbel

The corbel on the left has been sanded and the corbel on the right has been sanded and a layer of antiquing wax was applied.


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Design your own Corbel-003

Now that you’ve built your own corbel, check out this post to find 14 fantastic projects and ideas for what you can do with your newly made corbels.

Stay inspired.

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