Introduction: $20 Wood Floating Shelves

Picture of  $20 Wood Floating Shelves

These shelves are super easy to build and really inexpensive as well. They can be stained, painted or left natural for whatever kind of decor suits your home. Open concept shelving is really popular and trendy right now. A great alternative to cabinets to add a bit of texture or character to any home.

Here is the shopping list for 3- 55 1/2" long floating shelves.

  • 2- 1 x 10 x 10′- 2 shelf tops
  • 1- 1 x 10 x 6′-1 shelf top
  • 1- 2 x 3 x 10′- inside posts (12)
  • 1- 2 x 3 x 10′- 2 cleats on wall
  • 1- 2 x 3 x 6′- cleat on wall
  • 1- 4′ x 8′ x 1/4″ plywood (you’ll have a lot of scrap left over, but I needed the length from the 8′ side)
  • 1- 1 x 4 x 6′- side trim
  • 1- 1 x 4 x 10′- 2 front trim
  • 1- 1 x 4 x 6′- 1 front trim
  • Kreg Jig 1 1/2" screws
  • wood glue
  • wood filler
  • sand paper
  • stain/paint

Here is the cut list.

  • 12- 1" x 3" x 7.75" Inner shelf supports. 4 per shelf.
  • 3- 1" x 3" x 54" wall cleats
  • 3- 1" x 10" x 54" shelf tops
  • 3- 1/4" x 9.25" x 54" plywood pieces. Shelf bottoms
  • 3- 1" x 4" x 54" front face trim pieces
  • 6- 1" x 4" x 10" side trim pieces

Step 1: Assembling the Inner Support of the Shelves.

Picture of Assembling the Inner Support of the Shelves.

Using a Kreg Jig, drill pocket holes into the small inner support pieces. Then attach equilaterally along the back shelf support. This will give you the three inner support brackets that will make up the shelves.

Step 2: Attach Inner Supports to the Studs in Wall.

Picture of Attach Inner Supports to the Studs in Wall.

Using a stud finder, mark the studs in the wall. Next, draw a level line to attach the support cleat to. Using 3 1/2" screws, attach each cleat to the wall. Pre-drill holes in the cleat before attaching to wall to ensure the wood does not split.

Step 3: Attach the Top and Bottom of Each Shelf.

Picture of Attach the Top and Bottom of Each Shelf.

Using 2" brad nails, attach the top 1" x 10" x 54" piece of wood by nailing into the inner supports from the top. Do the same with the bottom 1/4" x 10" x 54" plywood bottom pieces. Add wood glue to the face sides to prepare to add the trim pieces.

Step 4: Attach the Face Trim Pieces

Picture of Attach the Face Trim Pieces

Once you've applied the wood glue, using 2" brad nails, attach the front 1" x 4" x 54" pieces. Followed by the 1" x 4" x 10" side pieces in the same manner.

Step 5: Finishing the Shelves.

Picture of Finishing the Shelves.

Fill all nail holes with stainable/paintable wood filler, wiping the excess off with a damp cloth. At this time, you may sand down the edges and any rough areas. If staining, I recommend dampening the entire shelf with water before applying stain. This will prepare the wood to take the stain evenly.


BobbyD44 (author)2017-01-31

i built 4 shelves 1 3/4x14x24 for $25 total. built completely different and could hold about 80lbs each.

BobbyD44 (author)BobbyD442017-01-31

built like a butcher block and fireplace mantle combo

ssilk_05641 (author)2015-09-15

Where did you buy all that material for $20??

noahfett (author)ssilk_056412015-09-15

I'm thinking its $20 per shelf?

OnBlissStreet (author)noahfett2015-11-08

yes, per shelf.

So what about the cost of buying plywood. I have added this up over and over and if you actually use math, there is no way. maybe the heading could be "practically $20 selves if you have a lot of stuff laying aroundn" sorry to be cynical. I think the instructable is wonderful, just misleading.

actually, I regret that previus post. I think you did a great job and who am I to know what it cost. I will take your word for it. please accept my apology. keep up the good work.

skepticaljay (author)ssilk_056412015-11-02

I don't see how it could even be $20 per shelf. I believe it is much more.

I used inexpensive white wood and pine. Very affordable.

Where was your lumber purchased

NIESAMON (author)ssilk_056412015-11-08

Same, but i am in the uk..

NIESAMON (author)OnBlissStreet2015-11-08

And there is you answer !! . #GIRLPOWER :D

ssilk_05641 (author)NIESAMON2015-11-08

There is no way. 1 1x10x10 cost $6 she used 2 thats $12 and glue and screws you're already over $20

NIESAMON (author)ssilk_056412015-11-08

What if she already has the glue and screws, or brought a more budget glue and screws :p

Exactly, it's $20 per shelf. Your 1- 1x10x10 that costs $6 is for both shelves. Therefore, it's only $3 for 1 shelf. That leaves you $17 for the rest of the materials per shelf. The two shelves in the picture were a total of $40.

That still doesnt add up unless it was used or reclaimed would .

Please see above response.

Chrispcrunch (author)2015-09-17

These are really nice-looking and rustic. Good job!


VoltageSparx made it! (author)2015-10-15

I made (2) 3ft shelves and 1 8ft shelf. Basically followed your instructions but I miter cut my corners on the trim boards.

Gorgeous! Nice job!

I only did 6" depth on my shelves also

omikeo (author)2015-09-15

nice job,i would also suggest miter cuts on the ends to give a more finished look(so your exposed end support would be 1.5 inches longer with a vertical miter and one on the face piece as well, thanks, mike

NIESAMON (author)omikeo2015-09-16

Wish i knew what you are on about .. :/

omikeo (author)NIESAMON2015-09-17

hopefully you can access this pic, it should help explain it

NIESAMON (author)omikeo2015-11-08

Hi Mike Thanks for replying. Since i wrote this comment i have fitted skirting board and door architrave.. I am cringing inside right now :D LOL..

The picture is great to, simple for simple minds like mine.. ty

NIESAMON (author)2015-09-16

Love It :D

AllenInks (author)2015-09-11

Your first instruction is, "Using a Kreg Jig, drill pocket holes into the small inner support pieces. Then attach equilaterally along the back shelf support." Why would you use a Kreg jig, instead of using long screws to go through the back shelf support and into the inner support pieces" That way, the screws are pulling the inner support pieces straight back against the back shelf support.

Also.... why not put wood glue between the inner support pieces and the back shelf support" Kind of a belt and suspenders approach.

Finally, I'm wondering if it might be worthwhile taking a big drill and put several lightening holes in the inner support pieces (maybe 1 3/4" diameter holes spaced 3/4" apart ... or whatever looked like it was leaving enough meat to support the shelves. I suppose one could do some calculations for). These wouldn't materially weaken the 2 x 4 inner support pieces, but will act to increase the weight bearing capacity of the shelves by several ounces.

rsfluffy (author)AllenInks2015-09-15

On your final query, it seems some routing, either inside or outside of the face pieces could reduce weight significantly without impacting strength. The holes on the inner supports would not impact strength. Hole saw here? Every gram saved is holding capacity increased. I like it. Oh and 3/4" apart sounds about right to me.

billbillt (author)AllenInks2015-09-15

maybe you should do an Instructable showing your preferred method of construction...

AllenInks (author)billbillt2015-09-15

Have not done a floating shelf. was thinking about it though, which is why I was asking questions about this one.

lunaras (author)AllenInks2015-09-15

With regard to the screwing the pieces together, using pocket holes is the correct way to do it. Screws or nails driven from the back into the end grain of the supports would likely either split the supports or strip out while supporting a load.

Simply driving screws into the end grain is generally a bad idea, but can be effective if additional steps are taken, such as doing something like this:

AllenInks (author)lunaras2015-09-15

Okay! Thanks for the reply; it really makes sense. I had not heard that about screwing into end grain before. Luckily, I can't think of any projects of mine that depend on the tensile strength/grip of a screw into end grain. Now I know better.

billbillt (author)AllenInks2015-09-15

A lot of folks love the Kreg system.... I am one of them... Got my vote!... Great!...

uncle frogy (author)2015-09-15

was surprised when I saw this and read through it and they were not torsion box floating shelves. nice concept and look

ludgidiya (author)2015-09-15

Simple and perfect!

Thank you!


EricT27 (author)2015-09-15

Now I know what I'm doing for my office.. nice.

The only thing I will change is since I have a long driver extension, I can pre-build the shelves, screw them to the walls (pre-drilled holes), and tehn mound the faces.


ps, I love both my Kregs :)

rjtumble (author)2015-09-15

Really nice and seems to be very easy too. I think the only change I'd make is to screw rather than nail either the top or bottom panel. Mostly just to make it easier to remove the shelf from the wall if I want to do that later.

ClenseYourPallet (author)2015-09-11

Love your projects!! Great pics and instructions. Also it looks like we are neighbors, I'm from the Rockford area as well. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks a lot! Maybe we'll pass in an aisle at the Home Depot sometime ;)

caperjack (author)2015-09-05

Great job ,,I have this on my to-do list ,now I have a guide line ,thanks

OnBlissStreet (author)caperjack2015-09-05

No problem, thanks a lot!

JuliaMarkiewicz (author)2015-09-03

Great :)

About This Instructable



Bio: I'm a coffee & Craigslist addict,up- cycler, garbage picker, thrift store digger, scrap wood hoarder, nap time warrior, writer, and blogger. Come see all ... More »
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