How to Build Floating Shelves for Your Home

How to Build Floating Shelves

Open shelving has many benefits: it’s more affordable that traditional cabinetry, it provides easy and convenient access, and boasts a timeless design.



Floating Softwood Shelves

Step 1: Measure, Mark and Cut for Bracket

Using a measuring tape and pencil, mark and cut the five 1×2 boards using a chop saw (see cut list).

Step 2: Measure, Mark and Cut for Shelf Box

Using a measuring tape and pencil, mark and cut the four 1×10 Southern Yellow Pine boards using a circular and miter saw (see cut list).

Step 3: Assemble Bracket

Secure the 7-inch exterior sides to the long piece using wood glue and wood screws. Then attach the shorter interior sides to the exterior sides in the same manner.

Step 4: Secure Bracket to Wall

Determine the location of studs in the wall and mark the completed bracket accordingly. Check for level, then secure bracket to the wall (into studs) using 4-inch wood screws.

Step 5: Assemble Shelf Box

Using wood glue and a nail gun loaded with 1-inch 16- gauge finish nails, assemble the mitered pine 1×8 boards together to create the shelf (box). Hint: miter pieces so that grain is continuous for a seamless look.

Step 6: Sand Box

Fill any nail holes with stainable filler and allow to dry. Then lightly sand the entire box using a 220-grit sanding block. Wipe away excess dust with a rag.

Step 7: Stain Box

Brush on a chestnut stain (or another stain color of your choice) and poly mix, then wipe away excess with a clean rag. Allow to dry before installing on bracket.

Step 8: Slide Shelf onto Bracket

Once fully dried, slide the stained box onto the wall bracket. Push until snug to the wall.

We’ve compiled a full list of tools and materials you’ll need to build these modern, yet rustic floating shelves here:


  • Measuring tape
  • Speed square
  • Pencil
  • Eye/ear protection
  • Circular or table saw (to rip boards)
  • Miter saw
  • Drill
  • Nail gun
  • Putty knife (optional)


  • Softwood lumber such as Pine, Hemlock, Redwood or Cedar
    • 1x2x8 (1 pc per shelf/bracket)
    • 1x8x10 (1 pc per shelf/box)
  • 4-inch wood screws (into studs)
  • 1-inch 16-gauge nails
  • 220 grit sanding block
  • Wood glue
  • Stainable wood filler
  • Stain and poly combo (we usedchestnut)
  • Paint brush
  • Rags
  • Drop cloth (optional)

Cut List for Interior Bracket

  • 2 boards at 1x2x7” (exterior sides)
  • 2 boards at 1x2x6 1⁄4” (interior sides)
  • 1 board at 1x2x36 1⁄2” (against wall)
    • Butt jointed

Cut List for Shelf

  • Rip 10-inch wide boards to 8-inch
  • 2 boards at 1⁄2”x 8” x 30” (top/bottom of box)
  • 2 boards at 1⁄2”x 8”x 3” (sides of box)
    • Boards may have been ripped to 8”
    • Miter cuts at 45 degrees