How to Build and Install Wooden Floating Wall Shelves

Floating bookshelf on a white wall with lamp and books
What You'll Need
1/4 inch plywood
Circular saw
Wood glue
Safety gear
Stud finder

Floating wall shelves look streamlined and sleek because they’re attached to the wall with hidden supports, rather than traditional brackets or hangers. These shelves can be made of glass, metal, or wood. While you can purchase pre-made shelves, you can also build your own wooden ones at home with the guide below.

Step 1 - Find Wall Studs

First, find the location of the studs in your wall. Use a stud finder to locate them, and then clearly mark them. Measure the length of your shelf, and find available studs according to the length.

Step 2 - Make the Shelves

Each shelf is actually a long, flat 5-sided box. Using your circular saw, cut two pieces of plywood to the appropriate length you want your shelf to be. Be sure to use all safety precautions as provided by the saw's manufacturer, like wearing safety gear. These two pieces will be the top and bottom of one shelf.

Then, cut another strip of plywood 1-inch wide and the same length of the shelf. This piece will be the front of the shelf. To make the sides of the shelf, cut two strips 1-inch wide and 1/4 inch less than the depth of the shelf.

Step 3 - Sand

Sand all pieces down carefully. Then, drill pilot holes in the wood, so that the wood doesn’t split, and glue and screw the boxes together. Repeat this process for making any more shelves.

Step 4 - Finish the Shelves

Before hanging the shelves, sand the shelves down. Then, you can paint the wood and varnish it. Paint the shelves to match the decor in the room, or paint them a bright color as a centerpiece. If you want a raw-wood look, skip the paint and only use varnish.

Step 5 - Install the Bracket

The bracket attaches to the wall and will be the sixth side of the box.

Step 6 - Make the Ledger

Cut a 1x1 to the length of the open end of the shelf. This piece will be the ledger board that holds the shelf to the wall.

Step 7 - Hang the Ledger

Set the ledger against the wall, where you marked the studs. Use a level to make sure it is even. Then, drill pilot holes in the ledger. Screw the ledger through the wall and into the studs.

Step 8 - Mount the Shelves

Put some adhesive onto the back of the shelf and around the ledger board. Push the shelf onto the ledger board, hiding the ledger inside the box of the shelf.

Next, drill pilot holes through the shelf into the ledger board. Screw it in place. Leave the glue to dry, and then check that the floating wall shelves are firmly sealed and secure before placing any valuable objects on them. For extra space, try installing a floating shelf with a drawer.