Easy How to Build Floating Shelves

March 14, 2019

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Do you look at floating shelves and think, they look really hard to make? I know I used to. Isn’t that crazy, coming from a girl who loves to build furniture and do total room makeovers? But it’s true…floating shelves intimidated me. Until I looked into them and discovered just how easy they are to build. And I use the word “build” loosely. “Put together” would probably be a more fitting term. Guys, let me tell you, they are so easy to make! I think they’ve become one of my new favorite projects.

With my first go at this project, I knew I wanted two floating shelves….One for a small wall in my family room. (That wall over there to the left, right by the door)….

family room

And a large wall I’ve been working on filling in my daughter’s room. (You can check out her teen room makeover here)….

Modern Teen Bedroom Makeover--What to Tackle First

Now onto this super easy build…

But first a warning….although the number of steps below may seem overwhelming, please know that my directions are very thorough, so as to make it easier to follow along. The process and time to build these floating shelves is actually simple and minimal.

How To Build Floating Shelves

Materials Needed:

Plywood (1/2″) (Amount needed depends on size of shelf)

1x6x8 board


Nail gun (hammer and nails work too)

Wood glue (affiliate link)

Stain or paint desired (I used MinWax Jacobean)

Kreg Jig(affiliate link)

Table saw

Miter saw (optional)


Building the shelf:

Step One: Determine the dimensions of your shelf.

For simplicity sake, we’ll use my dimensions for this tutorial

Step Two: Cut your plywood and 1×6 board

Cut two plywood boards to the following dimensions: 29-1/2″ x 6-1/2″

Cut two plywood boards to: 6-1/2″x 5-1/2″

2 long boards 2 square boards

Step Three: Attach plywood boards

Using wood glue and nail gun, attach smaller plywood boards to each end of the longer plywood boards…

board glued together

square box glued together

Step Four: Cut and attach 1×6 board

Cut 1×6 to fit over attached plywood boards…

boards on top of one another

rectangular wooden box

You now have an open box that looks like this…

rectangular box

And this when turned over…

wooden box with glue bottle

Step Five: Stain box (shelf)

Stain box and set aside to dry while you build your cleats….

two wooden boxes stained

Building the cleat:

Step One: Cut 2×4 for base of the cleat

Measure the length of the INSIDE of your box and cut your 2×4 to fit….

stained box

open wooden box with 2x4

Step Two: Cut arms of cleats

Leaving the 2×4 (from step one) in the box, stand another 2×4 on top and draw a line to how far it comes up to the side of the box. See picture below, for a better description….

2x4 in wooden box marked with pencil

Cut 3 “arms” to the same length as above….

wooden box with cleats for floating shelves

Step Three: Attach arms to base of cleat

Using a Kreg Jig, drill pocket holes into each arm and screw into base of the cleat (as shown below)….

wooden box with cleats for floating shelves

Attaching the cleat to the wall

Step One: Where do you want your shelf?

Determine location of shelf. Mark studs, using a Stud Finder.

Step Two: Attach cleat to wall

Screw cleat into a stud in the wall with one screw and then using a level, make sure it is straight. Drill the rest of your screws in to make it secure.

cleat with level for floating shelves

Attaching the shelf to the cleat

So very simple…Fit shelf over cleat and attach with screws.

stained floating shelf

That’s it!! Floating shelves are actually very easy to build, as you can see!

And add style to any room…

floating shelves styled with farmhouse decor

floating shelves styled with farmhouse decor

floating shelves styled with farmhouse decor

floating shelves styled with farmhouse decorAs always, don’t hesitate to email me with any questions you may have about this project or any other projects on the blog.

Until next time,

Happy Building, Friend!!

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Floating shelf styled with pictures

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