How to Make Floating Shelves

A Simple Step-By-Step Tutorial

Specifically, we used:

1. 1/4" maple ply board 2. 1/2" maple ply board 3. 1x2x8" White Wood Boards 4. Wood Glue 5. 2.5" screws 6. Stud Finder

7. Drill 8. Brad nailer & nails 9. Plunge saw & track



What you'll do is build the internal support for your shelf and then build a box that will slide over it. Measure the space where the shelves will go and make sure the size of shelf you're planning on will fit.

Our space was 35.25 inches wide. When measuring the back of the internal support, subtract the total width of the box you'll add over it.  We used 1/4 inch ply on the ends, so the back of the support was 34.75".

35.25 inch space Minus 0.25 inch ply board on each side = 34.75 inch center support

Build the  Support:

We wanted the shelf to be 10 inches deep, so it would come out as far as the toilet tank.  That meant that the arms of the support needed to be 9 inches long.

10 inches  minus the 1 inch back support +9 inch arms

Build the  Support:

I recommend gluing the arms to the back of the support first. Then you can either use pocket holes to screw the pieces together or simply screw them together through the back of the back support.

Build the  Support:

We used butt joints for the box, which meant that the front panel was one piece of wood and then the tops and sides butted up to that piece from the back.  That way the only thing visible from the front is that front panel.  This creates a cleaner look in my opinion.

Build the Box:

The top and bottom of the shelf will be the same size as the support.   The sides and front will be the height of the support plus the top and bottom pieces of the box.  The front is the length of the support plus the side pieces.

Build the Box:

I think the easiest way to put the box together is to build it around the support without attaching it to the support.  You do this by laying the sides and front against the supports and then making sure you only nail into the sides and front/in the box, not the support.

Build the Box:

Next, go to the space where you're installing the shelf. Mark the wall using a level so you have spots where you can line up the support. Find the studs and mark where they are on the support. 

Hang the support

Drill screws through the support, into the studs, making sure it's level beforehand. It may be easier to pre-drill the holes first,, like we did.

Hang the support

Slide the box over your support . Nail it down directly onto the support/top and bottom of the shelf.

Finally, add the box!

That's it! You can paint it or stain it if you'd like.  We'll be adding a second shelf this week!

Ta Da!