Building a Floating Wall Shelf

Floating Shelves

When it comes to home storage, floating wall shelves are incredibly versatile. They can be added just about anywhere, from the garage to your living room, bathroom, bedrooms or kitchen. Line the shelves with storage baskets to conceal clutter, or display decorative items, children’s toys, or books.

The options are virtually endless. Plus, floating shelves can be finished in a multitude of ways to accommodate any decor. Use a bright paint color to contrast the wall and have a modern pop, or use a classic wood stain to create a rustic, traditional feel. Creating floating wall shelves is such a simple carpentry project, that even a novice can tackle it.

All you need for this project is wood, a tape measure, sandpaper, a leveler, a jig saw, L brackets, varnish, and wood stain or paint and paint brushes. When you are ready to go, simply follow these instructions:


  • First you must determine the shelving dimensions. The standard thickness for a shelf is 1″, but you can create shelves of any length or width, depending on your needs and the space you have.
  • Once you have determined the dimensions, measure the wall space with your tap measure, transfer the measurement to the wood, and then cut the wood to the required length using the jig saw.
  • Use the sand paper to smooth out the jagged edge left behind by the jig saw. This will give your shelf a clean, smooth finish. If the wood is jagged on other edges, smooth those out as well.
  • Stain or paint the entire shelf before attaching it to the wall. Wood may require more than one coat of paint. Be sure to let the paint dry completely before applying a second coat.
  • Once the paint or stain is completely dry, apply varnish. This will give the shelf a protective finish that minimizes day-to-day wear and tear. If you want the shelf to be glossy, apply a second coat of varnish. You should gently sand the shelf between varnish coats to ensure a smooth finish.
  • Attach the L brackets to the shelf first. I recommend spacing them every 24″ for a stronger, more stable shelf.
  • Now attach the shelf to the wall. I recommend using a leveler to ensure the shelf is perfectly even.

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