DIY Wood Floating Shelf

For this week’s project, we made a couple of floating shelves. This DIY Wood Floating Shelf project is a great one for anyone looking to get into woodworking and for the more advanced, alike. It’s very budget friendly, does not take long to make, and they add a nice touch to any wall. Learn how to make your wood floating shelf below! Be sure to download the free plans here, as well. Best of luck on yours.

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Tools Needed

Circular Saw OR Miter Saw
Table Saw
Kreg Jig
Orbital Sander​– Ryobi makes a nice one.
Nail Gun
Tape Measure, Straight Edge, Pencil
Eye and Ear protection

Supplies Needed

Lumber for the frame and shelf – see wood list below
Steel Wool & Vinegar Solution/Stain (link to video tutorial)
Water-Based Polyurethane Spray
3” Wood Screws
1 ¼” Nails
Gorilla Wood Glue

Approximate Total Cost: $10

The DIY Wood Floating Shelf can be made for about $10 in materials cost. This is the cost for the wood, wood finish, and other basic supplies. *Note: This doesn’t include smaller things you may already have around the shop, including: glue, sandpaper, etc.

Wood Costs

  • 1 – 2×4 $3/piece
  • 3 – Cedar Pickets $2.50/piece

Cut All of the Wood Pieces

We’ll start this project by marking and making cuts for all of the different pieces for the wood floating shelf. It basically consists of the 2×4 wood frame that screws into the studs in your wall and also the cedar picket shelf box that slides onto the frame. Take a look at the cut list in the free plans for dimensions and guidance. Sand the boards, once they’re cut to size.

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Start Assembly, Making the Frame First

Once you have all of your pieces, we’ll make the 2×4 wood frame that’ll screw into the wall. Kreg Jig (pocket hole joinery) the short boards onto the longer board. Also screw in 3” wood screws from the opposite side, for more security. This frame will be completely hidden on the inside of the cedar shelf box, so once it’s made there is no need to finish this. You can leave it all rough.

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Assemble the Cedar Box Shelf

Then we’ll put together the cedar box that will slide over the 2×4 frame, becoming the main shelf and the most visible part of this project. Dry fit all of the pieces to make sure your cuts were accurate, then add wood glue to the joints. Nail everything together with 1 ¼” nails and then let the glue dry.

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Sand, Finish, and Let Cure

Sand the cedar box down to at least 220 grit with your orbital sander. The finishing process that I did for this project was the steel wool and vinegar solution/stain. Refer to this tutorial video here. Let your solution work its magic for a while and once to the desired color, seal it all up with a water-based spray polyurethane. The water-based sealer ensures that you won’t change the effect, patina, and color of the steel wool and vinegar solution.

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Install the 2×4 Frame and the Cedar Shelf

Once the finishing process is done and everything has dried to the manufacturer’s recommended time, we can install it! We’ll first find the studs in the wall, should be about 16” apart. Then we’ll screw the 2×4 frame into the wall with 2 3” wood screws for each connection to the stud. Slide the cedar box shelf on and you’re done!

*Note: If you’re wanting a more secure shelf (maybe the kids could pull the shelf off of the frame) you can simply screw the shelf onto the 2×4 frame from the underside or topside.

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You’ve done the work, now reap the benefits of your DIY Wood Floating Shelf or Shelves, in my case. Add what you want to them and share this project with your friends. Thanks for following along and be sure to check out the free, downloadable plans.

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  • Tabitha Flugaur Zastava

    I love this floating shelf project. I am going to attempt it. I would like my shelves slightly different measurements. Is there any way you would be able to help me figure out what size I would need the pieces of wood cut. I always seems to mess that up.
    Thanks Tabitha

    • Thanks Tabitha! I would recommend sketching it out prior to creating to help figure out the exact measurement to make the adjustments. It helps out a lot and is what I always do prior to building 🙂 You’ll do great! Cheers

  • Paul Frank

    Instruction discrepancy between and the download instructions from gumroad. Your instructions above say only 2 pickets, but you really need 3 pickets to build one shelf. Gumroad instructions are correct.


      Fixed. Thanks for the heads up Paul! Cheers!

  • John DePascale

    Hi Pete! I want to build a shelf that is about 6′ wide and 18-20″ deep, What do I need to do to beef this up? I may even consider breaking it down to two 3′ wide shelve but I still need the depth. Also planning a reclaimed wood wall for that same wall, that’s part of the reason for the added depth.

    • John DePascale

      After re-reading your response to Shannon, by adding the second 2X4 frame I would basically be doubling the height of the shelf, correct?

      • DIYPETE

        John, that is correct, if you add a second 2×4 you would double the height of the shelf. You can try that solution, other than that it is a matter of strength. If too much weight is put too far out on the shelf it could rip out of the wall. You may be able to find a middle ground without doubling the self height, it depends on what your plans for the shelf are.


  • Shannon V Fausey

    Can I make the self 16″ wide for stereo components without compromising the strength?


      Hi Shannon,
      That would be possible but you may have to make some modifications. To avoid sliding you will probably need to screw the top of the shelf into the 2×4 frame since there will not be a snug fit. Also, depending on how heavy the stereo components are, you may need to add a second 2×4 frame at the bottom of the shelf to hold the weight.

      Hope it works out!

  • Beyond9

    Are there any schematics for building a floating entertainment console?

  • Jim_Pook

    Hi Pete: Just watched your video. These are great looking shelves, but I think you missed something.
    By adding a thin 1/8″ plywood or mdf sheet to the bottom of the bracket, and allowing for the extra wood by either trimming the bracket, or making the entire shelf a bit thicker, you would have a nice little hidden storage area for small valuables. Say cash or jewelry.


      Awesome idea Jim. I love hidden storage!

  • Mike G

    What is the load limit for these shelves?


      Hi Mike! That is a great question. I’m not 100% sure to be honest. There are certainly ways to beef them up if needing to hold more weight.

  • Brian Williams

    So where are your plans an project lists for doing the shelves just asking or do have a PDF file can download

  • Debbie

    Hi Pete,
    I am going to make these shelves asap. I went and got the wood today but I am looking at the page again and think I bought the wrong wood. I got the dog eared fence pieces that were outside at our local HD. I was in a hurry and not thinking. Is it going to be a problem because they are weather treated ? If so I will return them and look harder 🙂 Also just wanted to let you know that my son and I love your page !! Thank you, Debbie


      Hi Debbie!

      That is really cool you are going to make the shelves! And thank you so much to you and your son for following the projects 🙂 Yep, the dog eared pickets will work. I used cedar and not the weather treated. The weather treated will work though if you’d like to use them. Really give them time to dry out though as they will shrink quite a bit. Best of luck!

  • Eri Tena

    Hello Pete
    I wish the sames!
    Do you think if it’s possible to make this shelves in width 14 ”?
    I am a beginner in the work of wood, is it not to hard to begin?
    thanks !


      Hey Eric! 14″ is definitely doable. Make some minor adjustments to the measurements and you’ll be all good. Cheers

  • Adam

    Pete, Great video! I am looking to use these in our kitchen remodel and the patina on the cedar will match up perfectly with our grey color scheme. My question is this, can you thin up the shelves by using 2×2 as the framing? If so how much would it impact the load bearing of the shelf, we anticipate putting spices in mason jars on them.


      Hey Adam! Great to hear from you. Do make sure to do some samples with the solution on scrap wood since it will react differently with all types of wood. You could use a store bought 2×2 ( 1 1/2 inches by 1 1/2 inches ) — however it’s not going to have a whole lot of strength and could sag. You might want to look into using hardwoods for this project as they are going to have more strength. It doesn’t sound like you’ll have anything that heavy on them, but I do think you’d want to use a hard wood if you are going to try that thin. Good luck!

  • YJ

    I have a question. I have a fireplace that I would like to cover up with a shelf like that. It’s very deep, 21 inches. So the top would be 21 inches, the front more or less 4 inches, but I would do a ‘U’ shape at the bottom so the MDF fireplace shelf would be all covered with the cedar. Do you think thay would work? Any tips on that? Thanks! YJG


      Hi! Is this a wood or gas fireplace? You are wanting to completely cover it? Not sure I’m picturing exactly what you are looking to do yet, but will try to help as soon as I understand. Cheers!

      • YJ

        It’s a gas fireplace and I just want to cover the top of it, that is presently made of a ugly painted MDF( like a shelf or a mantel) 54 1/2 wide x 21 1/2 deep.
        Thanks for the help!
        And sorry if I wasn’t very clear.

        • DIYPETE

          Hi YJ!

          Cool, so you basically have a mantel over your fireplace made of MDF that is 21 1/2″ deep, 54 1/2″ wide and the front around 4 inches thick. Is it structurally sound so that you could simply cover it with cedar (nail boards to it etc?) — or do you think the whole thing needs to be replaced and to do a completely new shelf/floating shelf? Cheers!

  • Christi Palme

    These look great and I’m using this project to get my feet wet in wood working. One problem with the plans. The web version says 2 cedar pickets, the pdf says 1 but the cut list adds up to 3 at 6′ long. 2 of the 5 5/8 width and 1 of the 3 3/4 (if they make that kind- I don’t know because I have to go back to the lumber yard for the 3rd time. If they don’t have that width, I’ll just get something a little wider and rip it down.) Anyway. I hope you have time to correct the plans or if not, someone else might see this note. grace and peace.

    • Hi Chris! Thank you so much for letting me know about the measurement errors. The corrected measurements are now live. I really appreciate your help and feedback, and am so sorry it caused an extra trip or two to the hardware store. I apologize. It does require a total of 3 pickets. And I modified the width in the updated plans so you rip all the bottom/top boards to 5″ in width. (Instead of 2 differing sizes). Thanks again for your help!

      • Christi Palme

        Wow! that’s great. Thanks for the update. I was hoping I wasn’t missing something really obvious to an experienced wood worker. 🙂 No worries about the extra trip – I’ll chalk it up to the learning process for me.

        • diypete

          Thanks Christi 🙂 Have fun!

  • Daniel Medcalf

    There really is no need to use pocket holes to attach the 2x4s that will hold up the shelf simply putting a few screws through the back would work fine. I’ve seen a lot of people using pocket holes when it’s completely unnecessary just because they have a kreg jig. Great tutorial, but I think people trying to get into DIY projects get fearful or turned away from doing something because the purchase of an additional tool.

    • diypete

      Hi Dan! Yep, thanks for pointing that out! Yup, I agree that you can certainly use normal butt joints and screws for the projects if you prefer. And especially when doing projects similar to this where the screws are covered any ways. Cheers!

      • James Dusch

        I like Kreg joints Pete, just between you and me 🙂

  • Daniel Richards

    would something like this work in a kitcen holding plates, bowls and cups?

    • diypete

      You bet it would!

  • Simon Benzekri

    Well done Pete, how much weight do you figure a shelf like this can hold ? Some of the frames i would like to place are made out of glass a little on the heavy side.

    • diypete

      I don’t have an exact weight, — but glass frames would be no problem.

      • Rob Ytuarte

        Agreed, especially if your screwing the frame to studs vs. directly to the drywall via drywall screws or even anchors, a direct stud connection will always support the most weight. Great post and great question!

        • DIYPETE


  • Paul L

    What is the maximum shelf depth you can make? I would like to put my AV components on a floating shelf about 16 inches off the floor. I need the shelf to be approximately 16 inches so the components can have the wires all plugged in the back of them. I have access to the wall behind so I can put up extra studs to anchor the shelf to. I’m just worried about what depth I can go, without it falling forward.


      Hey Paul, I’ve done 16 inches before and not had any issues. I think you’d be fine for this project. Let me know how it goes and I’d love to see some photos.

    • James Dusch

      So Paul, did you ever do it? and what about the weight issue. I have been contemplating this same project for some time now.

  • Danny

    Hi, very nice shelves…I will be making them myself and have in fact downloaded the plans. Thank you and more power.


      Thanks Danny!

  • alago

    Free download ted wood working plan 2.94 GB in torrent file

  • Rocquel11

    Love it…is that fence board and also Pete what if you don’t have a table saw? I think I can get Home Depot to cut it for me

    • Hi Racquel! It is fence board, but you can use any type of wood you’d like! If you can find one wider board like a 1×12 — instead of two boards, the project will be even easier for you. Home Depot will be able to rip the boards for you. If you have a circular saw that would be another option. Cheers!

  • J’ai peur de dire

    Nice project well done

  • sadhvialam

    These shelves look much more stable compared to the ikea malm ones. How much max weight would this hold?

    • Hi! The 2×4’s frame makes it a pretty stable shelf. I haven’t done a weight test, but have filled them up completely with books and have had no issues.

  • Scot Rawlings

    I love these shelves and since I am a bit rusty and haven’t done much woodworking since high school I am getting better with each shelve I complete. Thank you for tutorial. My question is because of the cedar planks will there be imperfections throughout? I am finding I am questioning myself a lot because of the texture in the wood.

    • Hey Scot! Thanks so much for taking the time to say hi and for the great question. I really took my time to find quality planks, and then sanded them real good with an orbital sander until they were smooth. I used 60 grit to remove the roughness super quick, and then finished up with either 120 or 220 grit to make them smooth. Do let the planks dry out though, usually they are pretty wet, and they’ll shrink quite a bit if not dried out. You could also use standard 1 x 10 planks which would be 3/4 inches thick if you’d prefer. Then you don’t have to rip any boards as well. I used fence boards simply because I had them laying around — and cedar reacts pretty cool with the vinegar solution. Let me know if you have any other questions Scot. Thanks!

  • jacky

    It’s actually a important and useful piece of information. I’m satisfied that you just shared this helpful information with us. – Hanuman Chalisa


      Jacky, thanks for reaching out! Thanks for liking this post and for dropping a line. Cheers!