DIY Floating Shelves

It’s easy to build, even for beginners, and uses only a drill and a brad nailer (no pocket holes).  You can build and finish it on your workbench – and installing the floating shelves is easy too!  Step by step plans with diagrams and materials lists.

Dimensions

Floating shelves can be made to any length. We recommend between a 1×4 and 1×10 for the shelf tops, depending on the desired depth of the shelf.

SHOPPING LIST

  • 1×4, 1×6, 1×8 or 1×10 shelf top board in desired length of shelf, minus 1-1/2″
  • 1×4 long enough to go all the way around your 1x shelf top board
  • 2×3 or 2×4 – inside support pieces
  • 1/4″ plywood, same size as your shelf top board
  • #8 2-1/2″ to 3″ long self tapping wood screws
  • 3/4″ and 1-1/4″ brad nails 

Instructions

Step 1

Cut your shelf top board to the desired length of your shelf, MINUS 1-1/2″.

Cut 1×4 end pieces to match the width of your shelf top board.

Use glue and 1-1/4″ brad nails to attach the 1×4 end pieces to the shelf top board. All outside edges are flush.

Step 2

Cut 1×4 front and back pieces to match the shelf length.

Attach front of shelf with 1-1/4″ brad nails and wood glue.

For back of shelf, for extra strength, you can attach with 2-1/2″ self tapping screws and glue, or use nails.

Step 3

Cut 2x boards to match the width of your shelf top board.

For 2x3s, set inside the shelf, making sure there is 1/4″ gap on top for the 1/4″ plywood.

Attach from back with glue and 2-1/2″ screws and from front with glue and 1-1/4″ brad nails.  

If using 2x4s OR 2x3s are too big to leave the 1/4″ gap, turn the 2x board flat side up, and attach set down 1/4″ from the to with screws on the back side and 1-1/4″ brad nails on the front side.

Place a support about every 12″ and one on or near each end.

Avoid placing supports where studs in walls are located in the final hanging location.

Cut 1/4″ plywood with a circular saw or tablesaw.  Make sure it easily fits inside the floating shelf.  Paint or stain the floating shelf and the 1/4″ plywood panel and let dry.

Step 4

Locate studs in wall and hang the floating shelf through the back 1×4 board into studs in the walls using 2-1/2″ or longer self tapping screws.

If you are attaching the 1/4″ plywood to the bottom, hang the highest shelf first, complete the next step, than hang the next lower shelf.

If you are attaching the 1/4″ plywood to the top, hange the lowest shelf first, complete the next step, than hang the next higher shelf.

Step 5

Place the 1/4″ plywood panel inside the floating shelf and use the 3/4″ nails to secure.

Touch up paint or stain as needed to finish the floating shelf.


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