Build Like a Pro with this Floating Shelf DIY Hack

Floating wall shelves create a modern and sleek space to display your photos, knick-knacks and curios. With no visible hardware or brackets, floating shelves appear to do just that – float on the wall. Floating shelves can be purchased pre-built and ready to hang but with this easy DIY hack you can create your own custom shelves with little time and money and create not only sturdy shelves but total bragging rights when you show these shelves off to your guests.

Here’s how you do it.

Step One: Buy Your Materials and Collect Your Tools

These easy and inexpensive floating shelves are made from 2x4s and a hollow core door – the type of interior door you would typically find on a bedroom or closet. You’ll also need 1-inch brad nails, 3 ½ inch lag screws and strong carpenter’s glue. If you’re going to paint your shelves, you’ll need some paint. Each door will create two shelves the length of the door, but you can also cut the door length down to create more or smaller shelves. In this case, you will also need wood or trim to cap the ends of your shelves.

To turn the door and 2x4s into the beautiful compliment-fetching shelves they will become, you’ll need a stud finder, drill, hammer, a level, a chisel, a wench and a saw – ideally a table saw to ensure straight cuts but a circular saw can do if you’ve got a steady hand and a cut guide.

Step Two: Mark Your Studs and Make Your Cuts

Determine the location for your shelves, then find and mark your studs where it will be installed. Use a long level to draw a straight edge between your markings to guide you when installing your 2x4.

Ideally you will find a hollow core door 18 inches wide. This way, you can cut the door right down the middle to create your two nine-inch shelves. However, if you can only find wider doors, like 24-inches, you will need to make two cuts, cutting in nine inches from each finished side, discarding the center. You do not have to make your shelves nine inches, but it is not recommended you make them any deeper to ensure the shelves are strong.

Once your door is cut, measure the space between the outer sides of your door, this will likely be between one and two inches. You will cut down the depth of your 2x4 (cutting from the four-inch width, keeping the two-inch depth) to create a cleat that will fit into this space and hold your shelf to the wall. Make sure you have selected dry and straight wood for your cleats. You need to ensure a straight cut is made while creating your cleats, so it’s best to use a table saw. If you don’t have access to a table saw, many lumber yards will cut your wood for you when you buy it. Cut your cleats to the desired length of your shelves.

Step Three: Install Your Shelves

Along the level line marked on your wall, pre-drill ¼ inch holes at each stud. It’s very important to make sure these holes are level if you want to end up with a level shelf. Next you will hold your cleat up to the wall and in the same spots where you’ve drilled ¼ inch holes, you will drill holes in your cleat with a 1/8-inch bit. Secure your cleat to the wall using your wrench and lag screws.

If you are going to paint your shelf, it’s best to do it before it’s installed and should be done now and given time to dry.

Look inside your cut door shelves, there will be corrugated cardboard supports within. Remove these at least two inches into the door to make room for your cleats. Be cautious not to damage the door in the process.

Before trying to glue your shelf onto the cleat, test it out first and make sure it fits over the cleats. It should fit snug against the cleat and flush against the wall. Check that your shelf is level now too, you don’t want to be trying to remove the shelf from the cleat once you’ve applied the glue. If everything looks good, apply your glue to the bottom inside edge of your shelf and the top side of your cleat. Put your shelf in place. Using your brad nails, nail the shelf to the cleat every eight or so inches.

With this easy and inexpensive hack, you can have custom floating shelves made and installed in just a few hours to show off both your stuff and your impressive DIY skills.