$20 DIY Floating Shelves

13 Materials
3 Hours

After taking down a bay of cabinets in my kitchen and looking at a bare wall for about a month, I had to make a decision on what kind of shelving. These floating shelves are gorgeous, were cheap and super easy to build in an afternoon!
For about $20 each, I used whitewood and pine boards. To make the brackets, you need to cut inner posts and attach them to a cleat to support the weight of your shelf. I attached mine using a Kreg Jig.
Initially I was going to make 3 shelves, but once I started spacing on the wall, I decided to go with 2. Here are what your finished brackets should look like.
The brackets are then attached to studs using a level. You don't want sloped shelves! I used 3" wood screws to attach to the studs.
Using glue and brad nails, attach the top- mine is a 1" x 10", and the bottom- 1/4" plywood.
Finish up with the front and side pieces of trim using glue and a brad nailer. Then fill all holes with stainable wood putty, wiping off the excess with a wet cloth. Make sure you use stainable or you'll have polka dot shelves once they're stained.
Once the wood putty is dry, sand down all putty, edges and corners. I like mine to be nice and rounded for the more worn look.
Tape off the edges with the hope that stain will not splatter on your wall. Of course mine did, it never fails.. Using a foam brush, apply the stain (I used Minwax Provincial) and make sure you wipe off the excess after a couple minutes or you'll get gooey shelves.
These shelves were faster to build than dinner and a movie and cheaper too.
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Gigi Weber Hansen
    Gigi Weber Hansen
    on Sep 23, 2018

    I don't want to recreate the wheel, so I'll ask.... was there a reason to wait and stain the shelves after hanging them vs prior to putting them up? Thanks. Looks great!

    • Katie Dolan
      Katie Dolan
      on Jun 17, 2019

      Probably because she filled (nail?) holes and gaps with wood putty then sanded down that and and corners after installation.

  • Ella Frierson Bond
    Ella Frierson Bond
    on Sep 23, 2018

    Why didn't you stain all wood before installation?

    • Dena
      on Oct 31, 2020

      I someone said because she filled the nail holes and sanded after installation. Probably true. But I would think that you could stain it all and just touch up after? Agree?

  • Kat
    on Apr 28, 2019

    I’m in the middle of making this and am confused about the front and side pieces. Are those 1x4’s? I cut my front out of 2x3’s but that doesn’t seem right?

Join the conversation

2 of 204 comments
  • BeeZee
    on Nov 22, 2019

    Wonderful project! Love these shelves, we have old fashioned metal cabinets (our house was built in 1952). My husband likes this idea a lot! Question is, are there any plans that we can use to make the same shelves?

  • Joanie
    on Dec 29, 2019

    Great lookin' shelves. I wouldn't mind havin' a couple for my plants, since I am a plant lover. Thank you!

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