DIY Floating Shelf Tutorial

If you were able to check out our “Big Girl” Room reveal last week, you saw that I DIY’d some floating shelves for book and art storage.

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Floating Shelves

My daughter has been using this shelf constantly, trading books in and out and reading a lot more. I had seen floating shelves on Pinterest and in other peoples homes for a long time but I finally decided to DIY my own.

I don’t want to completely re-invent the wheel, so here are a few trusty tutorial’s I referenced when I started building mine. Depending on what tools you have at home it may be worth picking one over the other.

Shanty 2 Chic – If you like using a Kreg Jig to secure the boards.

Hometalk – If you would prefer to use wood glue and brad nails with an air nailer.

For the sake of time I decided to reference Hometalk’s tutorial, however I modified my bottom board to a 1×3 ( I didn’t want it sticking off the wall as much as a 1×4 would.

Floating Shelf DIY

Materials Required:

  • Ideally a chop saw, but a skill saw or hand saw would work too. (Plus the hand saw will dual as a workout :P)
  • Tape Measure
  • Wood Glue
  • Air Compressor
  • Brad nailer
  • White Spray Paint
  • Wood clamps
  • Stud finder

Step one: Buying all.the.things

My shelves were 3′ and 4′ long, so I bought:

  • 1-1×4 by 8′-0″ long, common Pine Board
  • 1-1×3 by 8′-0″ long, common Pine Board
  • 1-1×2 by 8′-0″ long, common Pine Board

Step 2: Measure twice cut once.

Since I was building two shelves, I went ahead and cut each of the boards to a 4′-0″ length and a 3′-0″ length. I always check the end of the lumber and make sure there are no cracks/staples/etc. I will cut about 1/2″ off the ends to get a nice clean edge when I am working on projects.

Step 3: Glue and Setup

I laid my boards down on the table and assembled them how they would look in their final configuration. I applied glue along the length and clamped them together.


Step 4: Brad Nails

Then I used the Brad Nailer to place a nail (as shown in the picture above) roughly every 9″ along the length. At this point I let it sit over night and pulled the clamps off the next morning.

Step 5: Sanding, Sanding, Sanding

I went ahead and applied a wood putty to the holes left by the brad nailer and started sanding.


I started with a sheet of 150 grit sand paper along the length of the grain. Once all the rough edges had been “knocked down” I switched to 220 grit sand paper and did the same thing. By the time I was finished, about 15 minutes later, I had a nice smooth finish where the wood grain was not perceptible to the touch and there were no rough edges.

Step 6: Paint

I chose to use a white semi gloss spray paint I had left over in the garage. I probably did about 4 light coats over the course of two hours and let it dry overnight. The key with spray paint is light and fast – don’t hold the sprayer in one place too long or it will puddle and drip.

Step 6: Locate existing studs in wall and hang

First I located the existing studs using this wall stud finder. I marked them with pencil and then placed the shelf at my desired height. I used a level to make sure it was roughly level.

Floating Shelf - ATTACHMENT

Second, I went ahead and placed 2″ long screws through the floating shelf and into the wall stud. I located the screw 1″ down from the top of the 1×4 side of the floating shelf.

So that is it my friends, a pretty simple DIY, low on cost and not a huge time suck. I hope this is helpful and gives you a good idea of how to build and assemble a floating shelf!


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