how to make wooden shelves

How to Make Wooden Shelves – DIY Tutorials

At some point, you will need extra storage spaces at home, in your office, or shop. However, adding a new piece of furniture will eat up more space and will be very expensive. The answer to your problems: wall shelving. If you know how to make wooden shelves, you don’t need to spend money on expensive storage furniture. Let us find out how easy it is to make traditional wall wooden shelves and the popular “floating” shelves from our step-by-step tutorial. 

What you need to make wall shelves

There are many types of wall shelves. The most common ones are open shelves and floating shelves and these are the ones we will tackle today. Open shelves are simply wooden boards attached to a wall either with metal or wooden brackets. Meanwhile, floating shelves seem to “float” as they are attached to a wall. This is because the fasteners or brackets are hidden somewhere in the width of the wooden beam or plank or at the back.

Here are the things you’ll need for these shelves

  • Wooden boards – there are many kinds of wood you can use to build shelves. You may use softwood boards as these are easier to work with and are strong enough to hold different objects, even heavy ones like books. You may also use plywood but this may only accommodate lighter items like home décor. Another type of wooden board for shelving is particleboards or chipboards. These are lightweight, easy to use, and are available almost everywhere. 
  • Shelf support material – you may use wooden strips or metal brackets. Metal brackets are available in most hardware stores and are ready to use. Don’t forget that these already come with mounting hardware. Meanwhile, wooden strips (1 x ½ – inch strips or thicker will do) can also be used to support floating shelves. The number of wooden strips will depend on the number of shelves you want to build.
  • Varnish or paint – if the wooden beams have lovely natural grains, use varnish and sealant. This will keep the wood’s natural beauty and will seal it from moisture and pests. Paint the beams if you want them to match your room color theme. 
  • Paintbrush or a roller paint applicator
  • Measuring tape and pencil
  • Bevel 
  • Hand saw or table saw 
  • Sandpaper (120 to 150 grit)
  • Electric drill or screwdriver
  • Old rag or sponge 
  • Safety gear – don’t forget to wear your mask, goggles, work gloves, and earbuds to protect your ears. Because you’ll be using paint or varnish, apply these in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. 


How to make standard wall shelves

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1. Measure the wall where your shelves will be installed

Get your measuring tape and pencil and measure the wall shelf or shelves. You may also use a bevel to make sure that the shelves are balanced. Mark the area where the metal brackets will go. 

The number of brackets will depend on the length of the shelf and the items you will place on it. For example, you’re building a two feet long shelf which you plan to use as a place to keep picture frames, small books, or some home décor. Two metal brackets will do, one for each side. 

But if you want to build a shelf for a printer, dozens of books, and heavy décor, add more brackets in between. 

2. Prepare the wood you will use

Make your wooden wall shelves last by staining or painting them. First, remove all dirt, grime, and old paint (if you’re reusing wood) by sanding it with a grit 120 to 150 grit sandpaper. After sanding, wipe it with a clean rag. 

Apply wood stain or varnish and wipe the excess. Let this dry and apply a sealant. You may also use paint. Use a paintbrush or a roller to apply paint on the wood and allow the piece to dry overnight. 

3. Install the metal brackets

While waiting for the wooden beams to dry, install the brackets using the hardware these came with. After installing, make sure these are level using a bevel tool. Use an electric drill to mount the brackets. 

4. Install the wooden boards

When the paint is completely dry, install the wooden boards on the brackets. You now have bracket-mounted shelves. 

How to make floating wall shelves

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1. Measure the wall where you will place the floating shelves

Just like making traditional bracket-mounted wall shelves, floating shelves need to be level to ensure that your things won’t fall off the shelves. Use a tape measure, bevel, and pencil to mark the area where the shelves will be set up. 

2. Prepare the wood you will use

As with the previous steps, you may paint your wooden beams or varnish them. Be sure to clean the wood by sanding it first and removing all dust from the surface and the area before you apply varnish or paint.

3. Attach the wood strips to the wall

Cut the wood strips according to the length of the wooden beams. Prepare the strips by sanding them and painting them according to the same color as the wall. This will hide the strips and will give that “floating” effect.

4. Attach the wood beams to the strips and the wall

Place the beam on the strip from one of its long sides. Use an electric drill to attach the beam to the wooden strips from the top. Secure the shelf on the strip with several screws. This type of shelving won’t hold heavy items. This may only serve as a decorative shelf. 

If you want to keep larger and heavier objects, a bracket shelf is better or you may settle with regular freestanding shelves instead. 

Now you know how to make wooden shelves, you can now confidently construct all kinds of shelves at home. These DIY steps are very basic. You may improvise starting from the number of shelves, the different brackets available, and the different creative ways to mount wall shelves. Good luck with your DIY shelves project!





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