Craft and Handmade Shows, Family, Tutorials

Easy Craft Show Display Tower Tutorial and an Upsetting Personal Realization

I’ve had a few questions about my new craft show display tower thingys.  So I created a tutorial…. and had an upsetting personal revelation.

These are not complicated (or revolutionary) designs but they are versatile and I  think they could be adapted by anyone for their own needs.

If you want to be exactly like me (and, according to my mother, everyone does!) here is the first step

Step 1:

Carefully measure the cargo capacity of your Honda Fit – take note of height and depth of storage

Step 2

Totally ignore those measurements and make something that doesn’t fit.

Curse….A lot.

Step 3

Find yourself wondering if, maybe, David Bull (1st grade frenemy) wasn’t correct when he said that you were “dumb and your mother dresses you funny.”

Turn to photo archives for solace and make upsetting discovery.

Step 4

Suck it up and try again

Gather Supplies!

Gather your materials – my displays are 6’6” tall and the measurements reflect that but you could make them any size

You will need:

  • Two pieces of 2”x2” pine lumber cut to 78” each (select carefully make sure they are as straight as possible).  Sanded smooth
  • Two pieces of 2”x2” lumber cut to 21” each.  Sanded smooth.
  • 1 piece of thin backing material (luann, melamine, it could be cardboard if you liked) cut to 68” high by 24” wide
  • Shoe Molding cut down to 1.5” pieces for shelf supports
  • Carpenters Glue
  • Screws
  • Paint (green – don’t even think about another color)
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Carpenters Square (optional)
  • Clamps (optional – not pictured)

Step 1 – Mark for Cross Pieces

I chose to give my display boards legs so, laying them next to each other, I marked each side 10” up from the bottom.

I then used the cross piece as a guide and marked that and put an X where I wanted to drill my pilot holes.

I repeated the process at the top of the frame as well and then drilled my pilot holes (pilot holes are key here to keep your wood from splitting when you insert the screw).

Step 2 – Mark and attach the shelf supports

Before I assembled the frame I wanted to get the shelf support in place – that way I knew the shelves would be level.So I carefully marked where I wanted each shelf and……went and had lunch and forgot to attach them.

 Later, when I realized this screw up, I found my thoughts returning to David Bull and his cruel taunts.

I tried to reassure myself that the first photo was an anomaly

It was not

I then called David Bull and apologized for thinking poorly of him all these years.

Step 3 – Assemble the Frame

When you’re working by yourself clamps are your friend (sounds sadder than I meant it to).  If you clamp them to a carpenters square you not only get a true 90 degree angle you leave your hands free to drill the screw into place.Repeat this on all four corners and you have this!

Step 3A Painting

Here is where my tutorial gets a little goofy.  It’s, like, 103 today and painting ain’t gonna happen.  But if it were, now is the time when you would paint the frame and the backboard (green!).

Step 4 Attach the Backboard

After the paint dries just a screw every foot or so will do just fine.And, voila!  You have this!(OK I am cheating – that’s a picture of my original displays– since the new one wasn’t painted I wanted to show you these.)

My goal was to make something versatile.  So, as you see I’ve attached the two of them with a piano hinge.  This allowed me to set them up in an accordian style for my Renegade booth as you can see here:For Unique LA they were set up as four sided towers and I connected them at the top with L brackets

They could also be hinged along the top rails to create an A Frame display.

I backed two of them with peg-board so I could hang my letters and magnets


You’re probably wondering why I haven’t talked about the shelves.

What I’ve learned and what I’ll do going forward

My original shelves were simply two thin strips of wood glued together at a right angle and paintedThey worked just fine and held the coasters in place when wind would kick up or during the occasional customer jostling but I decided that I’m going to retrofit them using something like thisIt’s hard to get a good picture of it but this is simply a strip of wood with a strip of plexiglass attached to it.  This keeps the items more visable and you can create a higher “retaining wall” so-to-speak.

The shelves are just glued in place onto the toe kick brackets.

I hope this is helpful and if I’ve left any steps out or been vague don’t hesitate to ask questions.

I’m very happy with the displays  and comforted by the fact that, though I may be dumb occasionally, I was not the only one my mother dressed funny.

Love you mom!

36 thoughts on “Easy Craft Show Display Tower Tutorial and an Upsetting Personal Realization”

  1. That last picture of you and your sweet mother is my favorite 🙂 Those outfits remind me of the Sound of Music 🙂

    Thanks for making me laugh!

  2. Personally, PVA adhesive is my very bestest friend; far more chatty than clamps, whom I find a little too uptight at times:-)

    Love the retro clothes btw – mum’s can be very cruel at times:-)

  3. This blog was VERY funny and will certainly be useful to many people. Nice going! Edutainment is the word. Currently I am a prepping to launch my bead kit biz, having been in the craft show circuit with major booth displays selling clothing and fiber arts years back at some high end shows. I came to your blog by accident looking for tips on working with smaller spaces. Glad I did, thanks for the smile, and if you need jewelry to further thumb your nose at David Bull, check out my web site. I can make something for you or teach you to make your own. 😉

  4. I am so glad I found your blog! I am getting ready to do my first craft show and was having a hard time coming up with how to display my items (I didn’t want them just propped up on a table) and most of my ideas were getting very expensive! I can’t wait to share your idea with my husband and get started building one.

    1. Hey Suzanne – I’m so glad it’s helpful. And good luck with your first show.
      I too am always on the lookout for ideas about display and I’ve gathered a bunch on Pinterest if you are at all interested you can find them here:

      Knock ’em dead at the show.

  5. David, I just discovered your blog somehow in my search for ‘postcard vintage displays.’ I’ve clicked on so many windows now that I’m thoroughly lost as to how I got here:) Anyway, love your sense of humor and your bravado to start on a crafting business doing what you love. I’ve been doing it for 10 years and if it weren’t for my husband, I’d be a bag lady….so much for that ‘the money will follow’ idea:) Still, I refuse to give up. The hubby and I were up till almost midnight Friday as he was helping me create a display for my postcards at a little antique mall space I rent. We discovered that some cheap, funky pieces of metal strips worked wonderfully. Might be too light for your coasters (photos on my Facebook page)…. But anyway, again, just wanted to say ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci beaucoup’ for the inspiration and laughter. OH….it just clicked as to how I found you — the postcard chest of drawers:) Hope it’s OK if I share on my Facebook page?!

    1. Hi Trishia! Your display looks great and those metal strips look good to me. Are those the ones that you put on the corners of drywall? Genius! Your Esty shop looks great too – nice work on the postcards.

      1. Yes, I think that’s what the metal strips are for — to put on drywall/sheet rock. We just kept walking down the hardware aisles and, like crows, stopping at anything silvery and shiny:)

  6. You are so funny. I love your blog. Stumbled upon it on Pinterest when looking for craft displays. I make letter art too ( and fell in love with your displays as soon as I saw them. 🙂 I’m planning to build them next week for my first craft show in November.

    I do have a quick question – did you just glue on the shoe molding shelf holders or did you screw them in too? Thanks so much for this tutorial, I can’t wait to have my own, and hope they turn out half as nice as these!

    I’m looking forward to reading your blog feeds. Love your Halloween door sign!

    1. Lisa your letters look great! Thanks for the kind words about the blog.
      The shoe molding was glued on and then for extra security I pin nailed them in as well. Gluing and screwing them in would be fine (and maybe better) – just drill a pilot hole first or the thin shoe molding is likely to split. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask. Hope the craft show is a huge hit for you!

  7. omg !! Best tutorial EVER !!! Not only was I learning to make something but I was smiling all the time ! I’m a fan now 🙂
    I can totally relate to those 70s clothes and colors and pictures ~ we have scores of those too with colors like mustard and purple !!!!!
    Just beginning to enjoy alittle DIY here and there but my dad is a big into DIY but the old school ~ they never used sanding machines and jig saw machines in their times ~ they wasted tons of energy and time ~ cutting with a hand saw 😦 Now when he sees me playing with my tools ~ you have no idea how proud he feels of me 🙂
    Thank you for this inspirational tutorial. Joined your pinerest and facebook too.
    Had so much fun, will pop over again.

  8. This was hilarious and very informative! I do have a few questions–

    1. How did you attach the toe kicks/shelf supports? (this might be answered somewhere in here…I’m just too lazy to go dig for it!)

    2. I’d like to be able to make my shelves adjustable based on what I’m displaying. If I didn’t glue the shelves down to the supports, would they stay in place at all?

    Thanks for your help and your awesome tutorial!

    1. Thanks Rachel. I never realized before now I had skipped how to get the supports in there. So sorry! I used glue the first time around which worked just fine but later reinforced the connection with some brad nails just for extra confidence. Instead of gluing the shelves in place you might try using velcro – just cut little bits from one of the adhesive strips and put one side on the shelf support and the other on the underside of the shelf – that would give you enough friction to hold the shelf in place but still provide some options. If your supports are painted white and you get the white velcro it would blend I think. Hope that helps.

  9. I love your blog! You are totally dangerous to read while eating! I literally just choked on a carrot I was laughing so hard.

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