Introduction: Floating Cat Shelves

About: I enjoy building things in my spare time. Being the proud owner of 12 indoor only cats, with limited space, most things I build are for their entertainment.
Cats love high places. But on top of the bookshelf , casually kicking things off, isn’t always the place you want them to be. Give them a elevated space to call their own with the easy to build , Floating Cat Shelves.


1 - 1/2”x 4’x 8’ Sheet of plywood
2 - 2”x4”x8’
5’x12’ Carpet of your choosing
1lb box of 3” Screws
Small box of 1 1/2” Brad nails
Small box or 2” Brad nails
Small box of T50 3/8” staples
5-10 sticks of Hot glue (optional)

Finishing nailer / Brad nailer
Staple gun
Hot glue gun
Razor knife with extra blades
Tape measure
1’ Framing square

Step 1: Planning and Preparation

So you want some floating shelves. Great! I can help with that. You could follow this guide and replicate the shelves I built, or use it as a rough guide to build shorter/longer shelves.

Out of 1 - 4’x8’ sheet of plywood I built a total of 4 (3’ 6” long x 9” wide x 4” tall) shelves.

Decide on where you want the shelves to be. Whether you choose to install them along a flat wall, Staggered in the corner, or wrapped around a corner. All valid options.
After you select an area , find and mark each wall stud. Knowing their exact locations will save you a lot of trouble when your making the mounts for the shelves.

Each mount will need to span across at least two wall studs for stability reasons.

Okay so you know how many shelves you want, how long you want them, and where you plan to hang them. Time to cut some wood!

Step 2: Making the Cuts (Plywood)

Starting with the sheet of plywood

Cut the sheet of plywood into 4’ x 9” strips.
You should end up with 10 - 9” strips and 1 - 6” strip.
If you don’t have a table saw, spend a couple dollars and have the plywood cut down at Home Depot / Lowe’s. Their fancy saws make cuts that are almost always straight.
For each shelf, you’ll need 5 separate pieces. Top, bottom, left side, right side, and the front.

Grab two of the 4’x 9” strips and measure and mark your desired length. In my case 3’ 4”. After cutting the strip to the desired length, you’ll want to hang onto both of the 8” x 9” scrap plywood that is left behind.

You now have your top and bottom pieces. 3 more to go.

Cut one of the 8” x 9” scrap pieces down the middle so you end up with two 4”x 9” pieces. These will be the left and right side pieces.

Using a Brad nailer, attach the top and bottom to the side pieces. Making sure that the two side pieces are in between the top and bottom pieces , and not outside of them. The more flush the edges of the side are, the better.

Measure outside dimensions of the box you secured together moments ago , to get the dimensions for the front piece of the shelf. And make the cuts accordingly.

Step 3: Making the Cuts ( 2 X 4 )

Time to make the wall mount
Measure the inside length of the shelf. Then subtract 4” to get the length of the back piece of the mount.
Cut the 2x4.

Now cut 3 - 6” pieces of 2x4
These will be what supports the shelf.
Do not assemble any 2x4 pieces yet.

Step 4: Assembling and Setting the Wall Mount

Take the back piece (longer) of 2x4 you previously cut down. Place it against the wall where you plan to hang the shelf and mark the stud locations on the board.

This allows us to comfortably place the supports without accidentally positioning them in the way of where the screws that will secure the mount to the wall.

On a 38” ( in my case ) 2x4 I positioned the 3 - 6” cuts of 2x4 about 11” apart. With the outside pieces roughly 2” From each edge. I used 3 - 3” screws to attach each of the pieces to the longer board. And then 3 - 3” screws into each wall stud to secure the mount to the wall.

Be sure to check to make sure the mount is level before setting yours screws.

Step 5: Cutting the Carpet

Before we start cutting carpet.

Make sure your shelf fits over the mount that is installed on the wall. It should slide over the entire wall mount and sit flush against the wall. As well as be able to slide left to right a couple inches allowing for minor adjustments to the shelf’s final location.

All good? Great! Moving forward.

Unroll your section of carpet , carpet side down.
Line the top back edge of the shelf up with the edge of the carpet and adjust it left to right until it is centered.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. But ideally you should be able to wrap the entire shelf with one piece of carpet.

As you can see I failed to make sure it was centered and had to put a patch over the area that didn’t cover.

Holding onto the edge of the carpet and shelf , roll the shelf towards you until the bottom of the shelf is against the carpet. Mark a line across the entire length of carpet even with where the bottom edge of the shelf falls.

Using your razor knife , cut along the line and set that piece aside.

In my case I ended up with a piece of carpet roughly 2’ x 5’.

Place your piece of carpet, carpet side down and line up the top back edge of your shelf with the edge of the carpet. Make sure it’s centered again as well.

Clamps help for this next part but aren’t necessary.

It is very important to make sure the carpet is tightly secured to the surfaces of the shelf. It makes the end result look better as well as makes it more difficult for cats to pull apart.

Step 6: Finishing the Shelf

My advice is to go slow with this whole process. The end result will be significantly better than if you rush

With the edge of the carpet centered and even with the top back edge of the shelf. Start stapling.

To prevent any slack in the carpet . Start from the back right hand corner. Pressing down on the carpet slide your hand to the left. Stapling along the back edge of the shelf as you go.

Now do the same for the front edge of the shelf. Using your hand to push any slack towards the front left edge of the shelf as you staple the carpet down.

Stand the shelf so that the front side is facing upwards.
Pull the carpet tightly across the front side of the shelf and set your first staple in the right hand corner closest to the side you previously stapled down. Proceed to staple the carpet to the front side of the shelf using the same process as before. Repeat the same steps for the bottom side of the shelf.

You should now have a shelf wrapped in a carpet taco shell. See pictures.

To wrap each end of the shelf view the example. You’ll want the top and bottom flaps to be at least 1” past the outside edge of the shelf.

Cut along the lines with your razor knife. You should end up with 3 separate flaps. The top and bottom flap which should only be about 1” long. The flap wrapping around from the front of the shelf should be about 9” And slightly more narrow than the side of the shelf.

Fold the top and bottom flap tightly against the side of the shelf and staple them down.

Fold the long flap tightly against the side of the shelf and staple it down. It should Completely cover the remaining exposed wood.

Repeat for the other side of the shelf.

Cut excess carpet that hangs off the back edges of the shelf.

Step 7: Securing the Shelf to the Mount

After wrapping our shelf in carpet, it’s time to wrap up this instructable.

Slide your shelf over the wall mount and push it flush against the wall. You should not be able to see the mount at all.

I advise using 2” Brad nails to secure the shelf to the mount.

But doing so has one major draw back. If for what ever reason you need to remove the shelf / mount, your going to have a difficult time getting it off.

Screws are more than okay to use, but make sure to precut holes in the carpet where you intend to put a screw. If you don’t , there is a strong chance the carpet will bind up on the screw. If you continue to sink the screw without cutting the bound carpet , it will start pulling the carpet up.

How ever you choose to secure it. I chose Brad nails.
Shoot nails down from the top side along the back edge into the wall mount. Repeat for the bottom side of the shelf.

Step 8: Conclusion

I Appreciate you taking the time to look over the first instructable I’ve ever made. I am by no means a professional. So there is probably a better way to go about it. But, I just enjoy building things in my free time. All in all I’m very happy with the end product. But more importantly the cats seem to be happy with it as well.