When it comes to classic decor, a basic floating shelf is at the top of my list. Whether your style is more rustic, modern, or classic, a DIY floating shelf is doable and beautiful. Add decor space and storage to a living room, bathroom, laundry room, kids room, family room, kitchen, hallway… did we miss any rooms? Because you can put one here, you can put one there, you can put a floating shelf anywhere!
My neighbor asked me to make him floating shelves to give to his wife for her birthday. They were so simple, and looked to great I thought I’d share them with you! We also installed one here in our office/studio to show you how.
This is definitely a one day project start to finish! Watch the video tutorial and read below for the free printable building plans.
How to Build a DIY Floating Shelf
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Makes one 3′ floating shelf.
- 1 – 2 x 4 x 92 5/8 framing stud
- 1 – 1″ x 6″ x 72″ Knotty alder board (actual measurements 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ x 72″)
- 1 – 1″ x 4″ x 54″ Knotty alder board (3/4″ x 3 1/2″ x 54″)
- Wood filler
- Pre-stain wood conditioner
- Gel wood stain
- 2 1/2″ Wood Screws
- 3 1/2″ Wood screws
- 1 1/4″ Wood screws
- Table saw
- Finish nail gun with 1 1/2″ nails
- Air compressor
I used my table saw for all of my cuts because there is less tear out, and the cuts are more precise. You could ask your home improvement store to rip the 2×4 down, and use a miter saw if you don’t want to use a table saw.
Rip down 2×4 stud to 2″
Cut (1) @ 34 1/4″ and (4) @ 3 7/8″
Cut 1″ x 6″ x 72″ (2) @ 34 1/2″
Cut 1″ x 4″ x 54″ (1) @ 36″ and (2) @ 5 1/2″
Attache the 3 7/8″ pieces to the 34 1/4″ piece cut from the ripped down 2×4. Make sure that two of the pieces are flush with the outside. You will want to measure the space where the shelf will hang to make decide where to place the other two supports. Make sure you have an open space to secure the shelf support to the wall.
Use 2 1/2″ wood screws to attach pieces together.
I clamped the pieces in place, and pre-drilled for the screws so that the wood didn’t split.
Then clamp, pre-drill, and attach the middle supports.
Assemble shelf shell
As you assemble your shelf shell use the support to ensure it will fit inside the pocket. I laid one of the 5 1/2″ alder pieces beneath the support. Then placed one of the 3 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ pieces along the side.
Clamp the face to that piece. Then set the other side piece in place, and clamp in place while you nail the pieces together.
You will secure the pieces together with 1 1/2″ finish nails from the face into the side pieces.
Place the other 5 1/2″ piece on top of the support after running a bead of glue along one 34 1/2″ side, and both 5 1/2″ sides.
Secure the top in place by nailing through the face and sides into the top piece.
Make sure you hold the nail gun very straight so the nails don’t come out of the top. I also used clamps to help hold the top piece flush with the face as I secured it.
Turn shelf over, and run a bead of glue along the other 5 1/2″ piece.
Clamp in place, and secure with finish nails through the face and sides into the bottom piece.
Allow the glue to dry, and then remove the support from inside the shelf shell. The two pieces should fit snugly together.
Fill all nail holes, and any gaps or cracks with wood filler. Then sand.
Using pre-stain wood conditioner prepares the wood grain to accept the stain evenly. Don’t skip this step! Trust me. You will regret it if your stained finish is uneven!
I love gel stain! I think it is less scary to use if you are nervous about getting a nice finish. It goes on thick, and it’s impossible to miss a spot!
See what I mean?
Allow the stain to set as per manufacturer’s instructions, and then wipe off excess. This is the down side of gel stain. It gets pretty messy!
While the stain dries install the shelf support.
Measure and mark where you want the center of your shelf. I was lucky and the center point landed on a stud! If yours doesn’t, find your stud locations, and measure their distance from the center.
Transfer the measurements to your support, and pre-drill holes for mounting screws. Also, mark the center of your shelf if your center doesn’t land on a stud.
Then match your center point on your shelf to the center mark on the wall. I like to start the screw before you have the support on the wall so that it’s easier to mount the support on the wall.
With the one screw holding the support on the wall, check for level.
Then set the shelf with a screw in a second location.
Then secure with the remaining screws. I used two screws in the center point to reduce twisting.
Now slide on the shelf shell.
The fit should be tight enough that you don’t need to secure it further, but if you’re a worrier like me, place one 1 1/4″ screw in the bottom of the shelf into the support.
Now load up that empty shelf!
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