Introduction: Floating PacMan Ghost Shelf (Inky!)

Waka waka waka!

Welcome PacMan enthusiasts and shelf aficionados!  This instructable will show you how to build and install a floating shelf shaped just like one of the ghosts from the game.  The shelf shown below is approximately 30x30" overall, with free-floating eyes and body.  It sticks out about 5.5", which is just a little bit wider than a DVD case.  The eyes also conceal a hidden compartment (see pic #2).

Backstory:  I built this shelf for my sister for Christmas and she loved it.  The design was inspired by a ridiculously overpriced ($600), but totally awesome ghost shelf sold by Etsy member LightYourselfUp.  However, they recently took down their listing, so I figured I could make it myshelf (lol), with a few improvements such as hidden compartments in the eyes.  I also made a few minor changes to the shape of the ghost (moved eyes a bit to the left and changed the bottom layout, see pics #3 and #4) to make it more aesthetically pleasing.

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

You'll only need a few tools (miter saw and drill) for this relatively simple project.  For my shelf, which measures 30" wide and 28" tall, I used the materials listed below.  The total cost for everything was about $50 (the wood is most of it ~$35).

Note I used screws to join the wood pieces together, but if you have a biscuit joiner the assembly will go much faster and the final product will look better (no visible screws).

  • 20’ of 1x6 pine boards
  • 2’ of ¼”x6 poplar hobby board (for eyes, plywood might work too but is prone to warping)
  • (152) #8 1 ¼” screws (or 75 #20 biscuits if you have a biscuit joiner)
  • Blue, white, and black acrylic paint (4-8 oz. for body, 1-2 oz. for eyes)
  • (8) ¾” metal elbow brackets
  • (8) ½” wood screws
  • (8) Drywall anchors
  • 0.5"x8" strips of Velcro!

  • Miter or Table Saw
  • Drill or Drill Press (a lot easier)
  • #8 drill bit w/counter sink and Phillips head bit
  • Sand Paper
  • Foam paint brushes
  • Optional: Biscuit joiner
  • Tools for hanging:  tape measure, level, stud finder

Step 2: Cutting the Wood

No matter how you cut the wood, it is important that every cut is at a 90 degree angle to ensure proper assembly.  That's why I recommend using a miter saw and I check the first few cuts with a T-square.  It's also a good idea to sand the edges of each board, since the saw will inevitably leave some splinters.

The list below shows all of the wood pieces you'll need to cut to prepare a 30" wide, 28" tall shelf (see pic#2 to get a feel for the size).  If you would like to make a larger/smaller shelf, please refer to the formulas I have listed at the bottom of the page.

Cuts for a 30"x28" shelf, as laid out in pic #1:
  • (26)  "A"   =   1 1/4"
  • (2)    "B"   =   2"
  • (2)    "C"   =   2 1/2"
  • (18)  "D"  =   2 3/4"
  • (2)    "E"  =    3 1/4"
  • (3)    "F"   =   3 1/2"
  • (8)    "G"  =   4"
  • (4)    "H"  =   4 1/2"
  • (2)     "I"   =   4 3/4"
  • (2)    "J"   =   5 1/4"
  • (1)    "K"   =  10"
  • (2)    "L"   =  14 1/2"
  • Eyes = (2) 4x4" squares of 1/4" wood
If you want to make a larger or smaller shelf, you can use the formulas listed below to calculate the lengths of each piece of the shelf.  Start by determining the desired width of your shelf (W), then calculate x as shown below:

x = W/15

y is the thickness of the boards you use.  In my case, it was 3/4".

  •     (26)  "A"   =   x - y
  •     (2)    "B"   =   x
  •     (2)    "C"   =  2x - 2y
  •     (18)  "D"  =   x + y
  •     (2)    "E"  =   2x - y
  •     (3)    "F"   =   x + 2y
  •     (8)    "G"  =   2x
  •     (4)    "H"  =   3x - 2y
  •     (2)     "I"   =   2x + y
  •     (2)    "J"   =   3x - y
  •     (1)    "K"   =  5x
  •     (2)    "L"   =  8x - 2y
  •     Eyes = (2) 2x by 2x squares of 1/4" wood

Step 3: Assembly

NoteIf you have a biscuit joiner, use it with #20 biscuits with plenty of glue for this step.  If not, just use a drill or drill press as described below.

I assembled the pieces of the shelf by screwing them together with 1 1/4" #8 screws.  Here are a few tips:
  • Drill all holes into the face of horizontal boards and into the end of vertical boards.  See example image below.
  • You have 72 pieces to screw together, so this is going to take a while.  A drill press makes the drilling go much faster if you have one.  If you don't, just take your time (and a few breaks).
  • I recommend using a drill bit with a countersink attachment to make sure the screws sit flush, preventing them from catching anything on the shelf while keeping them out of sight as well.
  • Before starting, I made a drilling template out of scrap wood (pic #2).  It had #8 sized holes approximately 3/8" from the end of the board and 1/2" from the side of the board.  The template allows you to drill pilot holes quickly and evenly throughout the shelf and keeps you from drilling out of the boards later on when you're tired....
  • When the body starts coming together, drilling pilot holes gets a little tricky.  I found that laying the pieces on the ground to keep them flush is the best way to drill the pilot holes.
Assembling the eyes also gets tricky, since there are some very tight spaces.  Here's the order in which I assembled them:
  • Attach G to A, 2" from the "H" end of G
  • Attach C to G
  • Attach E to C
  • Attach H to G and E
  • Assemble the rest as you wish, but attach D to H last

Step 4: In Living Color

Time to paint!  Younger brothers are great to have during this step - I had mine paint the body while I took care of the eyes.

Optional:  If you want to conceal the screw heads, fill them with drywall putty.  Let the putty dry, then sand lightly before painting.

I used a 4" wide foam brush to paint the shelf.  It will take at least 2-3 coats to get a nice even color (I used pine, which soaks up a lot of paint).

Step 5: Eye Panels

The final prep step is placing the eye panels.  Once the paint is dry, simply put 2 strips of adhesive velcro on each eye and eye panel:
  • Cut your velcro strips:  (4) 0.5x3" strips, 2 for each eye
  • Peel off the protective strips from both sides of the velcro sandwich
  • Attach the velcro sandwich to the main eye body
  • Put the eye panel in place and hold for 15 seconds
  • Do a few test cycles with the eye panel.  If the strips do fall off, secure them with super glue or epoxy for a lasting bond
Note:  I originally planned on using hinges and a magnetic catch to keep the door in place, but I found that all that hardware just took up too much space in the 2"x2" hidden compartment.  The velcro is much easier to install and it works just fine - it hasn't fallen off yet!

Step 6: Hanging the Shelf

Almost done!  Only one more tricky step - hanging the shelf on the wall.

There are many options available for hangers at the hardware store.  You can take a look around and see what fits you best, but I used 3/4" elbow brackets to hang this shelf.  These brackets are perfectly hidden behind the shelf (3/4" thick boards) and are easy enough to secure to the shelf/wall.

Here's how I hung my shelf:
  1. Have someone hold the ghost body up on the wall and mark where the brackets will go (see image below for bracket locations).  Use a level to make sure everything is even.
  2. Secure the first 4 brackets to the wall with 1 1/4" screws (using anchors) and test fit the body.
  3. Mark the bracket positions on the shelf, take it down, drill pilot holes, put back on wall, and secure with 1/2" screws
  4. Test-position the eyes.  My left eye is 2" from part J and 4" below part I.  The right eye is 3.5" to the right of the left eye
  5. Mark positions for the brackets on the wall and take both eyes and the body down from the wall
  6. Repeat step 2 for the eyes
  7. Repeat step 3 for the eyes
  8. Put the body back in place and viola!  Now you have a floating PacMan ghost shelf with hidden compartments.
Great job!  Now fill up your shelf and enjoy!
Holiday Gifts Contest

Participated in the
Holiday Gifts Contest

Furniture Contest

Participated in the
Furniture Contest