Build Out: Craft Fair Display Shelves

Plans for Folding Craft Fair Display Shelves

This post will detail how to build a set of craft fair display shelves that are economical, easy to transport, quick to set up, stable, and easy to tear down. Plans can also be adjusted to larger or smaller tables.

A good friend gifted me her father’s antique wine crates and they made up most of my display shelving for the last 7 years. They worked great inside the studio for sales but when my show went on the road they were bulky and unstable in wind. I had been looking at folding shelves for a couple of years but they were either really expensive or didn’t seem sturdy. I found some folding ladder type shelves but they were about 5 feet tall and didn’t offer much flexibility in booth set up.

Inspiration hit when I saw a new video by Neil Estrick about packing pots for shows. Neil had a super-efficient system and it fit in the back of an SUV similar in size to the family-mobile that carts CBerry Pottery out to shows. If you are carrying goods to art fairs please do yourself a favor and get Neil Estrick’s video! I started sketching plans and roped my chief builder in for the ride.

We measured pots, looked at my folding tables and started sketching a plan onto paper. I try to avoid lifting really heavy things and I love my 4ft folding tables so we built to fit. I like a 28” tall unit with 4 shelf supports that can hold multiple boards on top of each table.

Supplies for project:

12: 1×2” primed pine- 12 ft long ($4.80 ea)

12: 1×10” and 4ft long unfinished pine boards ($13.49 ea)

16 hinges: we used a 2” brass hinge (2/pack and $2.68 ea)

Black spray paint (I used 5 cans @ $6.98 ea – but if you are at all competent at spray paint your mileage will be much better)

3” wood screws 9D size and too many to count ($9.98 plus some)

Wood glue

Cut wood to length 

To speed up the build process, we cut all the 1 x 2” lumber for the side supports to length with a miter saw.

For 8 units:

  • cut 32 pieces 28” long
  • cut 64 pieces 10” long

Make Jig

Then use scrap wood for a jig: cut 2 pieces to 1” long and 3 pieces to 6 ¾” long.

This video shows how we used a scrap piece of plywood on sawhorses, clamps, and our jig to quickly build the supports.


Finishing touches

Paint the supports. I chose a matte black spray paint and used 2-3 coats on each side of the shelf supports. Once the paint had dried, two supports were placed side by side and 2 brass hinges were attached using short finish screws. Be careful to line up the bottom of the supports and ensure that the hinges are lined up. If you have done things correctly, the supports should fold flat and when they are opened to 90 degrees they should stand level on all 4 points.

I stained my shelves with a stain to bring out the grain of the wood but there are many ways you could finish your shelves or you could even just have raw wood.

Booth Set Up

The supports and shelves should transport easily to shows and mine fit perfectly in the back of a Honda Pilot (official car of CBerry Pottery and also official kid-mover). I bought fitted spandex table cloths to fit my 4 ft tables. They come 2/package for $19 and there are lots of options. Pop the tent, add weights (lots of weights and then a little more weight). Set up tables, add table cloths- trust me you want to do this before you put anything on the tables. Set 2 supports per table (more if a longer table) stand up with legs at 90 degrees and ensure the supports are standing straight. You’ll want one side of the support along the back of the table 2-3 inches from the edge. Set up the same way on the other side and the place shelves through the gaps so they are level. I like to use 2-3 shelves per table. Make sure the display shelf is sturdy.

Place pots on shelves and pat yourself on the back because it looks so awesome!


1 thought on “Build Out: Craft Fair Display Shelves”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Let\'s keep in touch, sign up for the newsletter!