One of the first things we built-in our home – even before sorting some major issues like heating and security – are our floating shelves in the dining room.
We love them. They offer great storage and were fairly quick, easy & cheap to build.
Having been asked about our built-in shelves more than a few times, it’s probably well overdue that we share how we built them with you.
Building DIY floating shelves is actually really straight forward. Ours consisted of a hidden timber frame that’s screwed to the wall, which is then covered in MDF.
If you were to cut through our shelves, this is what you’d see.
As you can see, in addition to the 3 pieces of frame that are screwed to the wall, we also added an additional support at the front of the shelf and for extra strength (just in case of a load of heavy books) a central support, too.
If you want to make your own floating shelves, this is what you will need:
- Hammer drill – You probably won’t want to attempt this with a little cordless drill. You will need proper power to drill into the brick.
- Countersink Drill bit & drill
- Wallplugs and screws
- Timber for support structure (we used 38x25mm kiln dried wood)
- MDF for cladding the shelves – we’re painting ours, but choose some sheet timber if you want to see the grain (we used 12mm MDF for the top of the shelf and 8mm MDF for the front and bottom of the shelf)
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
This is how to build them:
#1 Start by measuring where you want your shelves to be and mark the top line of each finished shelf using a spirit level. Then measure and calculate the materials you need. For each shelf you will need 2x support timber the length of the shelf, 2x support timber the width of the shelf (+1x extra piece the length of the shelf if you are adding an additional support like we did), 1x piece of MDF for the top of shelf, 1x piece of MDF for the bottom of the shelf and finally 1x last piece of MDF for the front of your shelf.
#2 Once you’ve gathered all of your supplies, start by cutting your supporting timber pieces to length. For each shelf, you will need four pieces – one for each side (and an extra fifth piece if you are installing the extra central support).
#3 Then it’s time to start attaching your shelf support structure. Make sure that the top of your support finishes below the top line of your finished shelf level. In our case, it had to finish 12mm lower which is the thickness of the MDF board that will form the top of the shelf.
#4 To make sure that the centre and front supports are really strong, we cut an angle into the two front and side intersecting pieces. That way the front piece is supported by the wood and not just by a few screws.
#5 That was almost it. Now that you’ve attached the support of your shelves it’s time to fit the shelf cladding. When buying sheet materials, most DIY shops will cut the timber to size for you for free – and that’s exactly what we did. Start by screwing the bottom cover of the shelf to your structure.
#6 Then you can place the top on top – no need to screw it in place as it will stay there on its own. Finally, screw (or glue or nail) the front panel onto the shelf.
#7 All that’s left to do now is fill any holes and give everything a coat of paint. That’s all there is to it. Told you it was simple.
Have you built anything for your home? Have you ever built shelves? Are you also surprised at how simple things sometimes are once you know how?
PS. You can take the most up to date tour of our home here. This room went through a big change!