Introduction: Easy Inexpensive Crown Molding Wall Shelf

My wife was on a major online retailer the other day and found a wall shelf made from crown molding. They wanted over $40 for a 2 foot shelf. So, I decided to show people how to make one for a quarter of the price and it would be a foot longer. Most people probably have these materials laying around, so you may even be able to do this project for free!

It just requires some base board, crown molding, and mdf. Again, you probably have this laying around, but if not, head to your local hardware store and pick some up. Also, most people would use a chop/miter saw for the crown molding, but not everyone feels comfortable using power tools, so using a miter box and hand saw and glue can easily get this project completed. It may even be a fun project with younger kids!

WARNING: Please wear your safety gear. Protect your eyes and ears, and wear a dust mask. Mdf is a very dusty material.

Step 1: Step 1: Cut the Baseboard

The first step is to cut the baseboard at a 45 degree miter. You'll cut both sides of the baseboard at whatever length is right for you. Cut both miters so that the front of the baseboard is longer than the back of the baseboard. This is an outside miter.

To save time, and if you feel comfortable, you can use a table saw for this job as well. Grab a good miter gauge from, and install a miter gauge fence to help with longer stock. I use the Incra V27 from and for the price, it is an amazing miter gauge. Very precise and easy to use. And you get a lot for you money as well. The following link is for that miter gauge: Incra V27 at

Step 2: Step 2: Cut the Baseboard Return

Now, grab some of the scrap baseboard and cut the "return." This is accomplished by cutting the miter in the opposite direction, then cutting it square at the edge of the miter.

Once you have both returns cut, put some glue and either clamp together or nail together. I used a headless pin nailer. The hole is so small that you almost can't see it.

Step 3: Step 3: Cut the Crown Molding

Again, most people would use a chop/miter saw to cut crown molding. But they are very very expensive and can be a little intimidating. So, head to your local hardware store and buy a miter box (the yellow thing) for less than $10. Or ask your friends or neighbors if they have one to borrow.

The trick to crown molding is that it has to be upside down when cut at a 45 degree miter. Imagine the bottom of the miter box (where all those holes are) is the ceiling, and the side of the miter box (where the saw glides through) is the wall. I used the clamping pegs that came with the miter box to help secure the molding to keep it from moving around while cutting.

I measured the length of the baseboard after installing the returns and it was 3 feet (36 inches). So I cut the miters in the crown molding appropriately. Once cut, draw a line on the baseboard as a guide to help glue and nail the crown molding to the baseboard. I decided to use an 1/8" reveal, but you can choose to do whatever pleases you.

Step 4: Step 4: Cut the Crown Molding Returns

Cut the crown molding returns in the same way as the baseboards (remembering to keep the crown molding upside down in the miter box!) Then, using the previously assembled baseboard as a depth guide, mark the spot to cut the crown molding return so that it will sit flush against the wall.

After cutting the crown molding returns square, glue and nail together and get ready to move to the next step.

Step 5: Step 5: Cut the Top

Grab some Mdf for the top of the shelf. I used 1/2" mdf, but you can use 1/4" (don't put anything too heavy on it) all the way up to 3/4" depending on the look you want your shelf to have. The depth of the shelf was just under 3" and the width was 40 5/8". I wanted a 1/4" reveal all the way around, so I cut the mdf on my table saw at 3 1/4" by 41 1/8". If you don't have a table saw, you could use a circular saw, a jig saw, a band saw, a hand saw, or have the guys cut it at your local hardware store.

Once you have the top of the shelf cut to size, glue and nail it down. Grab some putty and fill all those nail holes and any gaps there may be in the miter cuts (I promise you, there will be gaps. And that's okay because with some putty and the next step, you'll never see them).Step

Step 6: Step 6: Paint It and Hang It!

Once the filler putty has cured, grab a can of spray paint or some latex paint and put a nice, smooth, even coat over your project. I painted my shelf white to match my home decor, but again, do what pleases your eye.

In the back of the shelf, you'll find a cavity. Use this to help hang on the wall. Get some scrap wood that fits inside (a 1"x2" would fit perfectly for this project). Take the scrap wood and mount it to your wall, screwing into studs or using drywall anchors. Then grab your shelf and place it over the scrap wood so that it fits inside the cavity. Screw it down from the top (into the scrap wood), and YOU'RE DONE!!!

The possibilities are endless! You can make mantels, wall shelves with hooks below, etc.

Shelving Contest

Participated in the
Shelving Contest