Floating Shelves Installation

Carter Oosterhouse shows how to build and hang functional, beautiful floating shelves.


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Shelves can of course be used to hold and display items, but they can also serve as decorative elements. These wall shelves can bring function to a room by holding pictures, trophies or memorabilia, but they also add art-deco flavor with their unique shape and size.

Materials and Tools:

six 3/4-inch plywood, 36 by 8-inches, for top and bottom horizontal shelves
six 3/4-inch plywood, 1-1/4 by 6-1/4 inches for side horizontal frame
six 3/4-inch plywood, 1-1/4 by 34-1/4 inches for front and back horizontal frame
two 3/4-inch plywood, 2-1/2 by 14 inches for second tier center verticals
four 3/4-inch plywood, 1-1/2 by 15-1/2 inches for second tier side vertical frame
four 3/4-inch plywood, 1-1/2 by 2-1/2 inches for second tier top and bottom vertical frame
two 3/4-inch plywood, 20 by 4-1/2 inches for first tier center verticals
four 3/4-inch plywood, 1-1/2 by 21-1/2 inches for first tier side vertical frame
four 3/4-inch plywood, 1-1/2 by 4-1/2 inches for first tier top and bottom vertical frame
two 3/4-inch, 1-1/4 by 34-1/4 inch plywood cleats
peel stick
1-1/2 inch brad nails
3-inch screws
table saw
nail gun




1. Start off by cutting down the 3/4-inch plywood to 36 by 8-inches. (For this project we used formaldehyde free plywood, eliminating the use of toxins usually found in most regular forms of plywood.)

2. Cut down the centerpieces for the shelves. Make a square frame at 34-1/4 by 6-1/4 inches. Set this frame in between the two plywood pieces, 7/8-inch in from each edge. Attach using 1-1/4 inch brads.

3. Apply peel stick edge banding over the edges of the shelf pieces that will be exposed.



4. Use a roller to firmly press the banding down. Once the banding is on, use a trimmer to take the excess edges and clip the end.

5. For the first tier of vertical pieces, cut the plywood to 3 by 14-1/2 inches, then trim it with the framing so the total piece comes to 4 by 15-1/2 inches.

6. For the second tier, cut the plywood to 5 by 20-1/2 inches, then place the framing around to bring the total size to 6 by 16-1/2 inches. Paint the pieces desired color.



7. To attach the pieces, use a rafter's square to make sure everything is aligned. Start with the bottom of the shelf. Place the 6-inch wide vertical pieces 6-inches in from each side of the horizontal piece. Nail together at an angle at the bottom.

8. Place the second horizontal beam on top of the two vertical pieces, again nailing to attach. Now, place the two 4-inch wide pieces 12-inches from each end. After attaching them to the second horizontal piece, place the top horizontal piece over the two vertical pieces and nail together.



9. To attach the shelf to the wall, make ledgers that fit into the inset space of the top and bottom horizontal pieces. Measure the distance between the two and attach the ledgers the same distance to the wall. Use a laser level to make sure everything's level.



10. Screw the shelf into the ledger from the top edge and the bottom edge.

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