Introduction: DIY Floating Shelf With Hidden Storage

About: We're Mother Daughter Projects, sharing our DIY adventures as we learn to maintain, improve, decorate, and use tech in our homes.

A gift from a friend of eight old worn card catalogue drawer fronts inspired this project. Another friend suggested we make shelves with them, so that’s what we did! The floating shelves were not initially designed to have a secret storage space, but towards the end of the build we realized we had the perfect opportunity to build in a secret compartment. Ours will hold a secret stash of candy!

Step 1: Watch the Video

For full details please visit our website here!

Step 2: Gather Materials


  • 8 vintage drawer fronts
  • .5” x 5.5” x 3’ poplar board
  • .5” x 3.5” x 3’ poplar board
  • .25” x 1.5" x 3’ poplar board
  • .75” x 2.5” poplar board cut to 17”
  • Minwax Red Oak Stain
  • Rare earth magnets
  • E6000 glueFrench cleat
  • Wood glue

Step 3: Cut and Stain

All of the cuts were made on a miter saw. After all the cuts were made, everything was given a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper.

The shelf can be stained or painted. We used this red oak stain which complemented the vintage drawer fronts. All the pieces were stained prior to assembly.

Step 4: Attach Fronts and French Cleat

To keep the four drawer fronts together, a length of 1.5" wide poplar was glued to the backs of the drawer fronts.

The finished shelf will be hung on the wall with a French cleat. A French cleat has two parts--one part goes on the shelf and the other on the wall.

Step 5: Glue and Brad Nail Shelf Parts Together

Assembly started with the sides being attached to the bottom and top of the shelf.

Wood glue was used on all the edges, clamped into place and then brad nailed to hold it all together.

We wanted the finished shelf to lay perfectly flat against the wall. To do that, we inset the back piece the amount the French cleat extended from the back which was about 1/4".

Step 6: Add Magnets

It was at this point that we realized that we could actually make a hidden compartment in the shelf. We brainstormed some ideas on how to attach the front and decided to use rare earth magnets attached to both the shelf frame and front as a way to open and close the box securely. Here Steph is marking the placement of the magnets on the box frame.

To be sure all the holes had the same depth, a piece of duct tape was put on the Forstner bit as a guide.

We put e6000 into a craft syringe so we could control the amount of glue that went into each hole.

After gluing the magnets into the frame of the shelf, we marked the placement of the matching magnets on the drawer front backs. Be sure to watch the video to see how we put the magnets into the holes.

Step 7: Attach to Wall

The Bosch laser level projected lines on the wall helping us to accurately place the wall part of the French cleat into place.

These little rustic floating shelves turned out so well. They are such a perfect addition to Steph’s living room decor that they look like they should have always been there.

We debated about cleaning up the drawer fronts with sanding and stain but decided to just cosmetically clean them and embrace their time worn character. The secret compartment was a happy accident and the use of the rare earth magnets made it possible.

For full details please visit our website here!

Trash to Treasure

Runner Up in the
Trash to Treasure