Floating shelves are made up two parts; a simple cleat that’s attached directly to the wall, and a hollow box that slides snugly over the cleat.
Cut List for this Project
Watch the video above, or get my cut list below and view the step-by-step instructions on how to make a floating shelf.
Steps for Building a Floating Shelf
For this DIY floating shelf 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.
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.
Step 2: Size the Spacers
Using the cut list above, cut the 1 x 2 front and side pieces to length.
Step 3: Prep the 1×2 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.
Step 4: Apply glue
Apply wood glue to the ends of the shorter 1×2 pieces.
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.
Step 6: Layout the shelf parts
Sandwich the assembled 1×2’s between the 1×8 top and bottom of the shelf.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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. Now step back and admire your new wooden floating shelf!
- 1 x 8 Board – to make the shelf top and bottom
- 1 x 2 Board – to make the spacer blocks
- 2 x 2 Board – to make the cleat
- 1 1/2-inch wood screws – to assemble the shelf and spacer blocks
- 2 1/2 inch wood screws – to assemble the cleat and attach it to the wall
- Wood Glue
- Sanding Discs