How to Build a Ledge Bookshelf

Learn how to build narrow floating shelves that are perfect for a kid’s room or living area, or any small space.

By: Chip Wade

Short on space? These narrow shelves don’t take up a lot room, and they provide display space for books, knickknacks or artwork. These instructions are for one single shelf. 

Tools and Materials

  • 3/4" thick poplar board 3” x 8’
  • 1/2” poplar dowel 48”
  • (4) 2" cabinet screws
  • paint
  • chop saw
  • circular saw or table saw
  • trim nail gun
  • drill
  • 1/2" forstener bit
  • 1/8" drill bit

Cut List:

- Piece A - bottom: (1) 35-1/4" x 3"
- Piece B - front face: (1) Cut tapered front poplar board with one mitered end and one straight end.
- Piece C - sides: (1) Cut mitered side poplar board to the dimensions shown.
- Piece D - connecting dowels: (4) Cut poplar dowels to 1" long.

Step 1:

Cut Piece A, B, C and D according to the cut list. Remember, the front piece is a tapered cut with a dimension of 3/4" on one side and 1-5/8" height on the other.

Step 2:

Sand all the wood to smooth the edges of all sides. Sand dowels only on ends to a very slight taper for easy placement into holes.

Step 3:

Stand Piece A and Piece B together as shown and mark centerlines for dowel holes according to the layout shown below.

Step 4:

Using a 1/2" Forstener bit and a drill or ideally a drill press, to drill four matching holes. Drill holes 1/2" deep on Piece B and 1-1/2" deep on Piece A. Try to make these holes as straight as possible.

Step 5:

Glue and nail Piece B to Piece C along the miter joint.

Step 6:

Glue four dowels (Piece D) into Piece B ensuring they are pressed into the bottom of the 1/2" deep hole.

Step 7:

Prefinish Piece A and the new assembly of Piece B and C separately on all sides with the finish or paint of your choice.

Step 8:

Use a 1/8" drill bit to pre-drill a pilot hole in all four holes in Piece A. Use 2" screws and wall anchors to attach Piece A to the wall at desired location.

Step 9:

Place the assembly of Piece B and C onto Piece A (that is already mounted to the wall). Do not put glue on the dowels, as this allows for removal of the shelf later, if needed, while still concealing the fasteners.

We built these shelves for a child's bedroom. But they are so versitile they can be used in any room of the home. 

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