How to: Floating shelves in 5 steps

How to: Floating shelves in 5 steps

So, we've been on a dining room DIY rampage. First was the table, next the bench. Now, Dan has designed and built floating shelves to display our great thrift store finds!

Here's how we did it:

Dan’s “ingredients list”:

Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post - I included the brand names of the ingredients below to help you get the same results.

  • 3 - 2"x4"x6' pine boards (each cut to 1 - 43" and 3 - 7" pieces) for the brackets
  • 3 - 1"x4"x6' pine boards (each cut to 1 - 43" and 2 - 9 1/4" pieces) for the skirting
  • 3 - 1"x10"x4' pine boards (cut down to 3 - 44 1/2" pieces) for the shelf
  • Minwax Wood Finish in Early American
  • Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Semi-Gloss
  • Hot-dipped galvanized box nails (both 1 ¼” and 1 ½” in length)
  • 2 1/2" long screws

Assemble it: 

Step 1 - Assemble the brackets.

Nail the three 7" pieces onto one of the 4" sides of the 2"x4" boards. Nail one 7" piece flush to each end of the 43" board and one in the middle. See the example, at right. Do this for each of the three brackets.

Screw the brackets to the wall leaving at least 11 1/2" between the bottom of one bracket and the top of the one below. With just 11 1/2" in between brackets there will be 10" between shelves. And don't forget: make sure the brackets are level! If your brackets aren't level, then your shelves won't be level, your items will roll everywhere, and it will be mass chaos. Save your decor and level your brackets.

Step 2 - Assemble the shelf shell.

First we assembled a complete shell to fit around the bracket on the wall, but when we put two shelves on the wall, they left very little room between. So we ended up removing the bottom board so the shelves are empty underneath. 

Nail the 1"x4"x43" and the two 1"x4"x9 1/4" boards to the underside of the 44 1/2" board. I know this is confusing, so take a look at the picture and imagine it without one of the long sides. Does that make sense? Include your questions in the comments, below.

Step 3 - Attach the shell to the bracket.

Place the shelf shell onto the bracket. Make sure it's level (I had to pull down on certain corners to achieve levelness) and screw the shelf into the bracket on the sides.

Step 4 - Stain and seal.

Apply two coats of stain. We applied the stain while the shelves were on the wall - and I don't recommend this. For your sanity, stain the shelves (and the brackets) before you attach them to the wall. We were just lazy and skipped that step. Once the stain has dried completely, apply a coat of the polycrylic gloss. Again, I recommend doing this before attaching to the wall.

Step 5 - Decorate.

This is my favorite part. Remember balance of both height and weight (volume) of the items. Don't overfill the shelves. Have fun!

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