How to Make Floating Wall Shelves

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Floating shelves add a sleek, modern look to a room by hiding their mounting brackets within the structure of the shelf itself. Although these are much more complicated to build than a standard bracket-and-board shelf, they're still within the reach of novice and intermediate woodworkers. Set aside an afternoon per shelf to give yourself time to do it right. As you perform each step of building your own hanging shelf, remember that precision is more important with these designs than with many other woodworking projects.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 wooden strips, 1 inch by 2 inches by 12 inches
  • 2 wooden strips, 1 inch by 2 inches by 22 inches
  • 2 wooden planks, 1/2 inch by 12 inches by 24 inches
  • 1 wooden beam, 2 inches by 2 inches by 22 inches
  • Nail gun with finishing nails
  • Wood glue
  • 3 wood screws, 2 inches long
  • 2 wood screws, 4 inches long
  • Power drill
  • Drill bits
  • Screwdriver bits
  • Level
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush

Shelf Frame

  • Set one 12-inch strip and one 22-inch strip together in an L-shape. Glue them together with the end of the 22-inch strip abutting the inside face of the 12-inch strip. Glue them in place, and then reinforce them with two nails from the nail gun.

  • Set the remaining 12-inch strip on the free end of the 22-inch strip. Glue and nail as you did the corner of the "L," creating a squared "C."

  • Slide the remaining 22-inch strip inside the open face of the "C." Position it parallel to the other 22-inch strip, 2 inches from the open ends of the 12-inch strips. Glue and nail each end as you did the other connections.

  • Set one wooden plank on top of your frame, its edges aligned with those of the frame. Glue it in position, and then reinforce it with a line of six evenly spaced nails along each edge. Repeat to set the other plank on the opposite side of the frame.

  • Wipe off any excess glue and allow it to dry.

  • Paint all faces of the frame and allow it to dry. While it's drying, set it on the open face.

Hanging the Brace

  • Find two wall studs on the wall where you want to hang your frame. Mark their location with a pencil.

  • Set your level so it crosses both studs. Level it out, and then trace a line along one edge of the level.

  • Set your 2-inch by 2-inch beam with one edge lying along the line you drew. Mount it to the wall by driving one 4-inch wood screw through the beam and into each of the wall studs.

Hanging the Shelf

  • Slide the open end of your shelf frame over the beam you mounted to the wall.

  • Attach the shelf to the beam by driving the three shorter wood screws through the plank of the shelf and into the side of the beam. If the shelf is above eye level, do this through the top of the shelf. If it is below eye level, do it through the bottom.

  • Add touch-up paint to the visible screw heads and to any dings that occurred during construction.

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