Easiest DIY Floating Shelves

Step-by-step instructions to build the easiest DIY floating shelves.

DIY floating shelves

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The final touch in the bathroom renovation was this set of DIY floating shelves. It was fun to get back in the wood shop after weeks of renovating, and I’m so happy with how these completed the whole project! I’ve built floating shelves a few different ways, but this was the easiest method so far. I first saw the idea from the ladies over at Shanty 2 Chic and just put my own twist on it. There are a million and one tutorials out there for DIY floating shelves, so I won’t pretend this is wildly earth-shattering and new, but these were super quick and easy and look wonderful in the space!

Enjoy the plans!

TOOLS & SUPPLIES

Lumber

  • 1 | 1 x 3 @ 8′
  • 1 | 1 x 6 @ 8′
  • 1 | 2 x 2 @ 8′ (OR 1″ thick trim board @ 8′)

**I used a table saw to rip the 2x2s down to 1″ thick so the assembled shelf fits over the bracket. The actual dimensions of a 2×2 is 1.5″ x 1.5″, so the total actual dimensions of the boards was 1″ x 1.5″ after I ran them through the table saw. If you don’t own a table saw, you can find 1″ trim boards in the trim aisle and use those instead. If you use a trim board, it probably won’t be 1.5″ thick. Make sure to adjust the length of the short bracket boards so they extend almost to the inside of the front of the shelf (see photos below for clarification).

Cuts

  • 1 | 1 x 3 @ 18″ along the short side with a 45 degree bevel (front)
  • 2 | 1 x 3 @ 5 1/2″ along the short side, one end cut at 90 degree and the other end cut at 45 degree bevel (sides)
  • 2 | 1 x 6 @ 18″ (top & bottom)
  • 1 | 2 x 2 @ 18″ (support bracket)
  • 3 | 2 x 2 @ 4″

**The lumber and cut lists are for ONE 19 1/2″ shelf. Adjust as necessary for your space.

DIY floating shelf supplies

Step 1.

Attach the front 1×3 to the bottom 1×6 board with wood glue and 1 1/4″ brad nails.

DIY floating shelf step 1a

Here’s a view from the end:

DIY floating shelf step 1b

See how the front 1×3 is cut at a 45 degree bevel? If you saw doesn’t bevel, you can set it to a 45 degree miter and stand the board vertically against the fence to cut it.

Step 2.

Repeat for the top 1×6. Again, use wood glue and 1 1/4″ brad nails to attach the 1×3 to 1×6.

DIY floating shelf step 1d

The view from the side:

DIY floating shelf step 2

As you can see in the above photo, my 1×6 boards were a little bowed since they’ve been sitting in the garage for a long time. I had to trim the brackets down a little to fit this shelf, but they worked out alright in the end. However, I recommend trying to find straight boards if you’re buying new lumber.

Step 3.

Attach the first end 1×3 to the shelf with wood glue and 1 1/4″ brad nails.

DIY floating shelf step 3

This is where the 90 end and 45 beveled end come into play – the beveled corner faces the front of the shelf and the 90 end goes against the wall. After stain, the shelves look pretty seamless with those beveled front corners!

Repeat for the opposite end.

DIY floating shelf step 4a

Here’s a top/front view:

DIY floating shelf step 4b

And the back is open like so:

DIY floating shelf step 5

Fill the holes from the brad nails with wood filler and let it dry.

DIY floating shelf step 7

Step 4.

While the wood filler dries, build the brackets to attach the shelves to the wall.

You can use pocket holes to attach the shorter boards to the main backer board, or simply countersink screws through the back.

I used two 2″ screws per bracket and drove them through the back. I used self-tapping screws, but one of them did end up splitting the board since it’s only 1″ thick. I recommend pre-drilling them even if you use the self-tapping ones, just in case.

DIY floating shelf step 6

If you make longer shelves, just add more center brackets accordingly. One every foot or so will be plenty strong (in my experience).

Step 5.

Next up – attach the brackets to the wall. Simply screw through the bracket into the studs.

I hit a stud on the right side but had to use a drywall anchor on the left. I didn’t want these shelves to be too big since it’s a small room (which is why I only hit one stud), but, if possible, try to hit studs on both sides.

Step 6.

Once the wood filler dries on the shelves, sand and finish as desired. I stained these with a custom mix of stain to give them a nice white oak look and then sealed them with polycrylic in the satin sheen.

DIY Floating Shelves

For the white oak color:

Stain them with Varathane “white wash” stain and wipe it off immediately. Follow the white wash stain up with Varathane special walnut stain and wipe it off immediately as well. You don’t have to wait for the white wash stain to dry before applying the special walnut. Apply the stains back-to-back, and then let the shelves dry. Once they’re completely dry, seal them with a poly of your choice. I used polycrylic in satin on these, but it’s totally up to you.

*Those links take you to a 2-pack of each of the stains, but you can buy them as singles in the store. I just added the links so you know what to look for.

Step 7.

Lastly, slide the shelves onto the wall brackets and you’re good to go – quick and easy DIY floating shelves!

If you want, you can add a small screw through the top of the shelf into the bracket. These ones fit nice and snug, so I didn’t add an extra screw or anything.

If you ever want to remove them, simply slide them off the brackets and remove the brackets from the wall.

DIY Floating Shelves

And that wraps up the bathroom renovation!

Please let me know if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible!

Bitterroot DIY

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DIY Floating Shelves

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