Folding Craft Show Shelves Tutorial

This is a free tutorial for making DIY folding craft show shelves written by Candace of T&C Crafters. This tutorial includes full directions to make these folding craft show shelves and links to all the necessary materials.

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folding craft show shelves

One of the best ways to showcase your products at shows is by utilizing height to your advantage. You really want to make sure that your items are up off of your table and closer to eye-level. Throughout my years of selling at handmade markets, I have tried quite a few different methods for adding height to my display.

I have used a variety of boxes, crates, pegboard and shelving in my displays, but my favorite method for adding height has been using these lightweight grid squares that connect to create shelving.

Attempt #1: Using the Shelving as Intended

When I first started using this shelving system, I put together the shelves using the connectors and zip ties that it came with in several different formations. I purchased the largest set I could find, and I used it to make several smaller sets. These sets worked great for quickly putting my shelves up at shows and having everything spread out into different sections of shelving.

The main issue I found with having the shelves put together like this was travel. Even with borrowing my parents’ larger vehicle, the shelves took up a ton of space and it was really difficult to get them in and out of the car by myself without having connectors come apart. While I did reinforce the shelves with the included zip ties, I quickly realized that this wasn’t the best option.

Attempt #2: Building the Shelving on the Spot

To cut back on the amount of space the shelving took up in my car, I attempted taking it all apart and putting it together at my next show from scratch. It did help that I knew the dimensions and shapes that I was going for, but I never realized how stressful putting together a shelving unit could be when you are trying to set up for a show! I definitely do NOT recommend this option. While the shelves are pretty easy to put together, it is not a job you want to do when you are limited in time for set-up before a show.

Attempt #3: Creating Folding Shelves

I knew that there had to be a way to cut down on space while still keeping the basic shape of the shelves intact. After looking into how some other folding shelves worked, I came up with a way to make these super versatile grid pieces into sets of folding shelves that I am able to assemble in about two minutes or less!

folding craft show shelves

The key to making these folding shelves is using zip ties instead of all the hard plastic connectors when prepping the shelves. I put together the shelves in the formation that I wanted for my show using the original connectors. Then, I went through and used zip ties to hold all the shelving pieces together. Once the zip ties were in place, I pulled off any of the connectors that prevented me from folding the shelves and stored them in a bag. Now when I get to my shows, all I have to do is unfold my shelves, put a few (six) connectors back on, and my shelves are ready to go!

This new method has been such a lifesaver! I have stuck with this same setup for quite a few shows now because it has worked so well. I even use the shelves at home to organize my finished items when I’m not at shows. I love how easy they are to move around and how sturdy they are in use!

What Do You Need to Make Folding Craft Show Shelves?

How Do You Make Folding Craft Show Shelves?

Making the Back of the Shelf

Start by laying out all of your shelving pieces on a table. You will need 6 squares, 2 connectors, and 21 zip ties for the back of the shelf. Once you have your pieces lined up, use the first connector to attach the corners of four pieces together. Then, attach two of the end pieces to the other two pieces with the second connector. After the pieces are connected, use three zip ties (one at each end and one in the middle) to connect the sides of each square to the square next to it. Once you are done with this, it should look like the picture below:

folding craft show shelves

At this point, you want to cut off the extra lengths of the zip ties, and then proceed to make the sides of the shelf.

Making the Sides of the Shelf

For each side section, you will need 3 grid squares, 2 connectors, and 6 zip ties. Lay out the three grid squares next to each other and use the connectors to attach the corners together on one side. You will then add zip ties to secure the connections between the grid squares. Place one zip tie on each end and one in the middle. Each of the finished sides should look like the picture below.

Once you are done attaching the zip ties, cut the extra lengths off. Make sure you have two side pieces. Then move on to the shelf pieces.

Making the Shelf Pieces

For each shelf, you will need two grid squares, three zip ties, and one connector. You can choose to leave the connector off if you would like. You will want to lay the two squares next to each other and connect the sides with one zip tie on each end and one in the middle. Your finished shelf piece should look like the picture below.

folding craft show shelves

After you have tightened all your zip ties and added your connector (if you desire), trim up the excess off the zip ties. Make sure you have two finished shelves. Then move on to attaching the sides to the back.

Attaching the Sides to the Back

You will want to lay out your finished back piece and side pieces like shown below.

Once your pieces are laid out like the picture above, use zip ties to connect the side pieces to the back. You should use three zip ties per square – one on each end and one in the middle. Once you are finished with this step, it should look like the picture below.

Now you will want to trim off the excess from your zip ties. You are officially done with connecting the pieces!

How to Put the Shelves In Place

This next step will be repeated each time you want to put your shelves together. Start by laying your back piece with the sides attached flat on a table or on the ground. This should look like the picture below.

Now, take your two shelf pieces and push the back of them into the connector on the back part of the shelf. This will temporarily hold the shelves in place so you can set it up. This step should look like the following image.

Finally, you will fold up the side pieces and use the connectors to snap them into place on the sides of the shelf. You can now set your shelf upright. Your finished shelf should look like the picture below.

If you desire, you can add the vinyl black sheets that are included to the shelves to make the shelf look solid. I like how these look, but if you are doing an outdoor show, be careful – they like to blow away!

Bonus Tips for Using These Folding Craft Show Shelves

Tip #1: Use clamps to hold the shelves to your table when doing outdoor markets.

Sometimes the wind can get a little crazy at outdoor markets. These shelves have held up really well for me at markets, but to prevent any issues, I have been using clamps to hold down the back of the shelves so they are tight to the table. These clamps have been great!

Tip #2: Use the sides of your shelves for extra display space.

The grid pieces on these shelves are great for hanging up items. I sell mini wreaths and some other hanging decor pieces throughout the year, and it is really easy to hang those items up on the side of one of these shelves with clothespins.

Tip #3: Use any extra pieces of the grid squares to add to your display.

While each shelf does require quite a few pieces, you can still attach just a few pieces of the grid squares together to make a small cube or grid wall. Be sure to get your money’s worth out of the entire shelf set by using up those extra pieces to your advantage!

I hope this tutorial helped you create some great new folding craft show shelves for your next craft show or market! If you have any questions or feedback about this project, please let me know in the comments! You can also reach out to me on any of my socials!

Best of luck to you in your craft show journey!

~ Candace 🙂

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1 thought on “Folding Craft Show Shelves Tutorial”

  1. Thank you so much for the details on the folding crafter’s shelves. I ordered everything you suggested on amazon and it was not that expensive. Assembling the shelves was also easy, with your directions. I’m a senior and do the show alone. Your help made it much easier for me. Only made one shelve; wanted to see how it worked out; but will assemble a second one before the next show.
    Had a show today and I can’t believe how quickly I was able to set up! Thank you so much!!!

    PS it was a successful show as well!!


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