Introduction: Believe in Your Shelf: Floating Plywood Shelves

Things you´ll need, or at least some things you´ll want to buy.
I don´t want to tell you what you need, you might just need a hug for all I know :)

If you have the possibility to make rip cuts in sheet goods, then that is the only tricky bit in this build
since everything else is a simple glue up, some butt joints with glue and screws and staining
the piece in a dark color.

You can do this!

If video instructions are more your thing:



- half a sheet of plywood. birch in my case 122cm by 122 cm and 9mm thick (if you have thicker plywood this also works like charm)
- wood glue
- dark wood stain
- a pine strip of wood, 3cm x2 wide and around 2m long to make the bracket that goes into the wall
- 6 drywall plugs
- 6 woodscrews of 40cm each and 4mm thick

- table saw or some form of saw that can make rip cuts ( circular saw with a straight edge or jigsaw works too)
- battery operated drill/screwdriver
- sand paper 120 grit
- a brush to apply the wood stain and a cloth to wipe it off.
- a handplane or sanding device that can smooth down rough edges
- about 4 clamps per shelf, or some heavy things to put on top of them to provide clamping pressure.

Step 1: Step 1: Cut All the Parts

For each shelf you want 2 pieces that are wider, 20cm in my case, that will make the top and the bottom of each "box" of the shelf. And smaller strips to make up the thickness.
For my shelves I used 3 thin strips to make a small wall around 3 sides of the bottom plank, so that you create the illusion of a thick board/plank that sits on the wall.

I made 2 boxes so as the picture shows I have 4 wide pieces and 4 small pieces.
those small pieces were cut down the middle once more to create 8 strips that were roughly 1 cm by 1cm wide.

each sheet is 9mm and in total you have 5 that are above one another, so around 45mm is the total thickness of the finished floating shelf.

after all the strips were cut I handsanded them quickly to take all the rough edges off before gluing them.

Step 2: Step 2: Glue Things Together

Take 3 thin strips that have the same length as your shelf and glue these together to make the "wall" that makes the thickness of this contraption. Simple wood glue is more then enough for this.

for the short sides of the box I took a glued up long "wall" of 3 strips and cut it into smaller pieces of 19cm each.

Then glue 3 walls in place leaving only one long side open. Add more glue to the top of your wall and take a matching wide piece to make the top.
Now clamp it with everything you´ve got! clamps, books, heavy stuff, whatever works...

Go sleep or have a long lunch and return when the glue has set.

Step 3: Step 3: Unclamping and Smoothing Over Sharp Stuff

After your sleepy or tasty lunch unclamp everything and look at your project, it´s a box!

A rough box, because of glue squeeze out and the fact that glue ups are never perfect.
Now you have to smooth down the sides, if you have a hand plane you can use that or you can use sandpaper in any of its forms. Belt sanders, disc sander, hand sanding, aggressively dragging it through a playground sandpit....
And at the end you should have a long box, open on one side, that is ready for finish.

Step 4: Step 4: FINISH HIM! ( and Brackets)

The only way your shelf will float is if you give it something to hold onto that sticks out from the wall.
This comes in the form of a bracket.

You will need a small strip of pine, or any kind of cheap wood, because you will not see it afterwards.
Measure the long side inside of the box. then remove about 1 cm, so you can adjust the shelf a bit sideways if needed.
Then measure how deep the box is, in my case it was about 19cm deep, so I subtracted the 2cm that my pine strip was wide and removed one more cm for safety reasons, so then you can cut the pieces of the bracket.

per shelf it is one long piece, 117 cm for me and then 4 short parts, that will be the prongs of the fork that stick out of the wall. these were 16 cm in my case.

place the forky bits where you want them on the long part of the bracket, mark and predrill a hole from the back, then add some wood glue and butt up the 2 pieces together.
Make sure to countersink the drill hole, so the top of your screw will dissapear into the wood and wont leave a gap between the bracket and the wall.
This will make your shelf unstable and less floaty, more "hangy" and hard to put stuff on.

Then testfit the bracket into the backside of the box. flip it around and apply a coat of stain.
I applied the dark stuff with a brush then pretty much immediately wiped off the excess to have a nice brown stain.

Step 5: Step 5: Hanging and Mounting

Attaching stuff to drywall sucks. A LOT

but you can make it suck less.
If you don´t have a level you can use many free apps on a phone dat work as a level and give you an accurate reading, providing that your workpiece is straight.

make a small dust catcher bin from paper to hang under your drill holes.
This makes clean up super easy and you just toss it in the garbage when you are done.

The plugs were meant to go with an 8mm drill bit and therefore an 8mm hole, the screws in it were 4mm

Buy actual drywall plugs, these will scrunch up behind the drywall as you drive the screw in, this will lock everything securely in place.

The video I made goes into way more detail of how to hang things securely in drywall.

When the bracket is mounted, slide the shelf bit over and flush with the wall.
My shelves are kind of high up, so the ugly side is facing up since you mostly see the underside.
If your shelf hangs lower, then keep the pretty side facing up ;)

now go and enjoy your shelves"! or at least put some plants on them and perhaps a silly quote on a blue sign.

have fun, and good luck!!