DIY Floating Shelves With Secret Storage

6 Materials
6 Hours

Watch the video for full instructions.

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A gift from a friend of eight old worn card catalogue drawer fronts inspired this project. Another friend suggested we make shelves with them, so that’s what we did!


The floating shelves were not initially designed to have a secret storage space, but towards the end of the build we realized we had the perfect opportunity to build in a secret compartment. Ours will hold a secret stash of candy!

These old vintage card catalogue drawer fronts were the inspiration for this project. If you don't have old drawer fronts, you could make a wood front for the shelf.

Gather your supplies. We used various widths of poplar boards which are readily available at hardware stores and some craft stores. It's sometimes called hobby or craft wood.

We started by measuring and cutting the wood to length with a miter saw. Those details are in the video and in a full tutorial post on our website.

After the cuts were made we sanded with 220 grit SandNet and then stained. The shelves could also be painted or left natural.

The edges of the shelf were glued, clamped and then brad nailed into place. Before assembly, a French cleat was attached to the back which was inset just a bit so that the finished shelf would fit flush against the wall.

French cleats come in two parts, one goes on the object, the other goes on the wall. You can find these at the hardware store with the picture hanging hardware. They come in various lengths. You usually buy them based on the weight of what you are hanging.

To make the secret compartment we added rare earth magnets to the shelf frame and the backs of the drawer fronts. The drawer fronts have been secured with a piece of wood so they now act as one long front. We used a special drill bit to make the holes for the magnets.

This Bosch laser level came in handy when it was time to put it all on the wall. It fits on a camera tripod and is self-leveling--super easy to use!

All finished and styled.

Don't tell anyone, but there is candy hidden in there!

We debated about cleaning up the fronts with sanding and stain but decided to just cosmetically clean them and embrace their time worn character.

Resources for this project:
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Frequently asked questions
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  • Sandra L Warren Sandra L Warren on Sep 15, 2019

    I love these! I am curious though why not just use piano hinge? As a side note I'm not normally a purple person but I love the pop of purple accents.

  • Leslie Leslie on Apr 04, 2021

    Hello, did you use a forester bit to make the seating for the magnets? Thank you for taking the time to answer.

  • Vineethayvs Vineethayvs on May 30, 2021

    icon y cant you wear hand glouses, apron coat, shoes ?

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