Since building that first set I have built several more for different family members and friends of ours. It’s kind of interesting to see how my methods have changed and how much easier they are to build now. I don’t actually even use the Kreg Jig to make them anymore, not because it doesn’t work good, it is just more because it’s mostly unnecessary drilling all those pocket holes in my opinion.
The method I use now is way simpler and involves less finishing work and no unsightly pocket holes from the bottom sides. You definitely don’t have to use the biscuit joiner like i did on these but it certainly made the construction super easy and eliminated the use of brad nails on the front ledge all together, again less finish work.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
1 inch 18 Gauge Brad nails
2 inch drywall screws
2 1×4 – (at whatever length you want them)
1 1×2 – (at whatever length you want them)
Crown Molding – Optional
Miter Saw (optional)
Counter Sink Bit Drill
Clamps (not necessary but really help)
Brad Nailer (optional)
Biscuit Cutter (optional)
You could use the Kreg Jig in place of the biscuit and screw method
Step 2: First Cuts and Dry Assembly
The first step is to cut your boards to the desired length and then cut your biscuit slots in the 2 1×4’s and the 1×2 front ledge. If you are using a Kreg Jig just drill your pocket holes in the bottom 1×4 to attach the front and back ledger.
Next step is to do a dry fit with your biscuits in place and use this time clamp the bottom and back ledger together and drill countersunk pilot holes through the back and into the bottom. I place them about every 10 inches or so across the back.
Step 3: Glue and Assembly
Once the holes are drilled you can un-clamp and take everything apart for gluing.After the glue is applied to the back and bottom put them back together with the biscuits and drive your two inch screws into the corresponding boards. You’ll notice this is where using biscuits comes in really handy because they help hold everything together for you.
Now you can attach the front ledger in the same manner, just attach it with the glue and clamp it in place for about an hour until the glue dries. If you want you can just use glue and brad nails in place of the biscuits.
Step 4: Square the Ends and Initial Sanding
This is where I square up both ends of the photo ledges after they are assembled, if your making more than one make sure to mark the length before making the last cut to ensure they are the same length.
Next I like to sand the bottom to make all three surfaces even with each other.
Step 5: Cut and Attach Crown Molding
Now comes the trickiest part of the build, the crown molding. Set your saw at 45 degrees and make your first cut, remember to flip your crown upside down on your saw so that the top of the crown molding is resting on the base and be sure to hold the crown firmly against the saw base.
After making your first cut, line it up with the end of the photo ledge and mark your second cut. I always make the first cut close to what I need and just go back and trim a little away until it is the perfect length, no need to try and and cut it the proper length on the first cut and risk cutting it too short.
After you’ve got it cut to length it’s time to nail the front piece on. It’s a little trick to hold the piece on there but usually after the first nail or two you’ve got it.
Next is the end pieces, I cut the 45 on one end first and mark the straight cut second, this is the easiest way to do it. An follow the same procedure as before make your mark close and sneak up on the cut until it fits perfectly flush with the back.I like to add a little glue to the miter corners for added strength.
Then just nail it on like the front. You may have to push out on the front piece at the bottom a little to help the corners line up the way they are supposed to.
Step 6: Sanding and Painting
Now the fun part, sanding, sanding, sanding, and more sanding. I go over these with 150 grit on the first sanding to bring everything level with each other before filling the nails holes.
Regular dry wall compound works great for this step and I just use my finger to smear it in the cracks and nail holes and any other imperfections that may be there.
Then a light hand sanding with 220 grit paper, just be sure to let the compound fully dry first.
Finally, brush on some primer to help adhesion and coverage for the top color. Then, paint it with gloss finish in whatever color you want. You can also lightly sand in between coats of primer with 220 grit paper, which is what I did, and sand and fill any imperfections you may have missed in the previous step.
Step 7: Watch the Video!
To get a better idea of how I built these, watch the video.