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DIY Floating Shelf

Easy
Difficulty
$20
Project cost
3 hours
Estimated time

There are a lot of ways to hang a shelf, but the appeal of a floating shelf is that there’s no hardware visible above or below the shelf. Instead, it’s made up two parts; a simple cleat that’s attached directly to the wall, and a hollow box that slides snugly over the cleat. For this project, I’m using stock boards from the home center, a miter saw to cut them to length, and a drill/driver to assemble the pieces with screws and wood glue. I’ll also be using a sander to smooth my edges, but you can also just use a sanding sponge. Watch the video above, or scroll down to get my cut list and view the step-by-step instructions.

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Step 1

Cut the Shelf to Length

Cut two pieces from the 1 x 8 boards to the width of the shelf, which for this project is 24 inches.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 1
Step 2

Size the Spacers

Using the cut list above, cut the 1 x 2 front and side pieces to length.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 2
Step 3

Prep the 1 x 2 Spacers

With the shelf piece cut, we’re ready to assemble the shelf box. First assemble the 1×2 pieces by drilling two pilot holes through the longer piece into each shorter pieces.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 3
Step 4

Apply Glue

Apply wood glue to the ends of the shorter 1×2 pieces.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 4
Step 5

Secure the Spacers

Drive 1¼-inch wood screws through the longer 1×2 pieces and into the ends of the shorter 1×2 pieces to hold the pieces in place.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 5
Step 6

Layout the Shelf Parts

Sandwich the assembled 1×2’s between the 1×8 top and bottom of the shelf.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 6
Step 7

Drill Pilot Holes

To hold the layers together, first drill pilot holes through the shelf’s top and bottom pieces and into the 1×2’s.

Step 8

Apply the Glue

Apply a coat of wood glue between the layers.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 8
Step 9

Assemble the Shelf Parts

Using a drill/driver, drive 1¼-inch wood screws through the shelf’s top and bottom and into the 1×2’s to hold the layers securely in place.

Step 10

Cut the Cleat Pieces

Lastly, to make the cleat that will attach directly to the wall and hold the shelf in place, cut the 2×2 pieces to size (see cut list above).

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 10
Step 11

Prep the Cleat for Assembly

Attach the 2×2 legs to the cleat by first drilling two pilot holes through the cleat and into each leg.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 11
Step 12

Assemble the Cleat

Apply wood glue to the end of each leg, and then drive 2½-inch wood screws through the cleat and into each leg.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 12
Step 13

Mount the Cleat on the Wall

To hang the shelf, first mark its location. It’s best to screw the cleat into a wall stud, which can be found using a stud finder. If that’s not an option, drywall anchors can also be used to add strength. Position the cleat on the wall. Use a small level to adjust the placement. Screw through the cleat and into the wall with 2½-inch screws.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 13
Step 14

Place the Shelf Box on the Cleat

Slide the shelf box over the cleat. Drive one final screw or finish nail through the shelf and into the cleat to hold it in place.

DIY Floating Shelf by House One - Step 14
Jenn Largesse
Jenn Largesse is the editor and creator of House One. As the daughter of a carpenter and an english teacher, she has been honing her love for woodworking and writing her entire life. After nearly a decade as a writer and producer for This Old House, she bought her first home in rural New England and launched her blog, Build Basic.

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