Step 2: Plan Your Design
This is the most important step in any project. A good plan most often results in a fine finished project. A floating shelf consists primarily of two parts, a hidden wall anchor and the shelf that hides it. I spent the better part of a month working on planning this project in my spare time. Initially, I wanted them to be about 6 feet long, which would make them just a little bit longer than the TV itself. However, most hollow core doors come in standard lengths of approximately 80 inches. So, rather than cut them shorter and fill the ends with a new piece of wood, I left them the standard length. To help me visualize the shelves, I made several drawings to play with the placement of the shelves in relation to the TV, floor, ceiling, and outlets.
I have ¾” gypsum board for wall covering and found it incredibly difficult to accurately locate the wall studs behind the gypsum board. My stud finder couldn’t locate them. A professional grade stud finder should have no difficulties. Failing to locate the studs, I decided to mount directly to the gypsum board. Thick (¾”) gypsum board is sturdy and can easily support the weight of these shelves. Toggle bolts would provide the necessary anchor strength.
Note: If you have drywall, there should be no reason why you can’t locate the studs and anchor directly to them. This is the method I would have preferred, as it would be far sturdier than gypsum board alone.
Notes on using recycled doors versus new doors. The recycled doors that I used had heavy duty wooden ribs placed every couple of feet that ran from the latch side of the door to the hinge side. I could not remove these without destroying the door. This required me to use short anchor boards that fit between these ribs rather than one anchor board that runs the entire length. Using recycled doors means that they might not be square and they will have holes left over from the knob, latch, and hinge pockets. These will need to be filled and sanded before they can be used as a shelf. A new generic hollow core door will not have any holes and will therefore be much easier to use
I tried several ways to mount the shelves to the anchor boards before I found a way that works. I tried wood screws and drywall screws first. Both striped out the holes in the anchor boards. Neither of these worked. What I found that worked great were Tee nuts and flat head screws. These hold the shelves securely with no worry about stripping out the hole in the anchor boards. They also support both the top and bottom sides of the shelf to prevent slipping and they can be easily removed.