4 min read

DIY Floating Shelves!

DIY Floating Shelves!

My most recent project was these 2 awesome shelves for my powder room.   Last month, I renovated my powder room with paint from top to bottom.  I replaced the baseboard molding, added a new light fixture, wall switches, and outlet.  These shelves are the finishing touch.

I'm deviating from my chronological experiences here.  I just finished this project.  So there are some skills and tools involved here that I've not yet mentioned.  For example,   I used a table saw and finish nailer on this project.  I'll get into more details of my experiences with these tools in future posts.    This project can be done with other tools like a circular saw or jigsaw if you have them.

The Idea 💡

Kudos to DIY PETE who has this great video that explains the build:

The secret magic to this project is that the backside of the shelves is open.   The box slides over pegs that are mounted to the wall.     In the end, the pegs are invisible because they are inside the shelf.

I decided to craft 2 shelves with different depths from the wall.  One is about 5 inches and the other is 8 inches.  

Assembly  🪚

For each shelf, there are really 2 pieces:  the pegs and the box.  Here's a visual of one of my shelves after assembly was done:

I used spare wood for all of my pieces:

  • The pegs and the wall mount are made of 2x4 stud wood that I ripped on the table saw to 1.5-inch square pieces.
  • The box top and bottom are made of half-inch plywood.  
  • The box sides and front are made of 1x3.

Your dimensions and wood choices may differ if you are making smaller/bigger shelves.  For example, maybe you want 2-inch pieces for the pegs.  Maybe you want to use the stud wood as is if your shelf was really big.  

Math time

My shelves are about 23 inches wide when measured across the front.

This means that the horizontal post for the pegs is going to be 22 inches.   Subtract half-inch to account for both of the side pieces.    Again, the peg piece will be hidden inside the box so it has to be smaller.  

Do similar calculations for the peg lengths.  If your depth is 8 inches, then account for the front half-inch and the peg mount piece which is 1.5 inches.  Thus, your pegs will be 6 inches long.  

I found that the plan and reality were two different things.  No problem.  When making the cuts,  just cut things a bit longer.  Then you can trim them as needed to get to the perfect size.  If you go too short, then you can't use the piece.

Just like in Pete's video I used wood screws to attach the pegs to the wall mount.  For the box, I used finish nails.   I attached the side pieces to the top and bottom first.  Then the front was the last piece.

The Big Finish 🎨

My better half wanted these shelves to be painted white to match the rest of the room.   A nice thing here is that only the box needs finishing.  The pegs are hidden so those are ready to go.  

Here are the finishing steps:

  1. Sand down everything.  Use an orbital sander if you have it.
  2. Remove any sawdust using a rag or tack cloth.
  3. Put a little bit of caulk into nail holes and blemishes.
  4. Apply primer to the box.
  5. Apply paint to the box.   After one coat, decide if you need another coat.

Mounting 🪛

Find your studs behind the wall.   Optimally you want to mount the peg piece into the studs.  For spots without a stud, use appropriate wall anchors.  I was able to get one stud and used two wall anchors for each shelf.  Use appropriate anchors for your project.  I used lightweight anchors since these shelves are relatively small.  

Here are the steps I took:

  1. Off to the side, drill holes in your mounting piece that holds the pegs.  Wood screws are going to go through these holes, in the end, to hold the shelf to the wall.
  2. Position your mounting piece on the wall, use a level, and make light markings with a pencil so you can easily get that position again.
  3. When confident in the steps so far, drill holes through your step 1 holes and into the wall.
  4. Remove the piece from the wall.  You now see your 3 holes.   Add wall anchors to holes that do not have a stud.
  5. Now with the piece back to the wall and in position, drill wood screws into all the holes.  The wood screw will get into the stud and the anchors.

The Missing Chunk and the project rating 🤬

My bottom shelf had an inch-long chunk of wood missing at the bottom due to a knot that fell apart.   After the first mounting, of course, my wife pointed that out right away.    I like to rate a project by the number of F-bombs that are uttered during the experience.  This project went up to 3 F-bombs.

To fix this I chose white kitchen caulk to fill it in, did some careful sanding, and then painted it again.   Better might have been spackle but I thought of that afterward.   The best approach would have been back at assembly, I did see the missing chunk.  I should have made a little mix of sawdust and glue.  Put that mix right into the blemish, let it dry, then sand it down.  This approach is great for stained pieces too.  

Hocus Pocus!

It's really fun when family and friends ask "how did you do that?"   If you want to reveal your magic, you can easily slide the box off the pegs and show the amazed onlooker.  Or just be mysterious and say "A magician does not reveal such secrets!".  🧙

Today's Quote 🗯

Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work. - Thomas A. Edison