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DIY Floating Shelf Over Washer Dryer Tutorial

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by
December 16, 2023
Zoe Hunt

Each year for Christmas, we tackle a DIY project for our family and this year was no exception. On the top of my mom’s Christmas wish list this year was a laundry room update. Cabinets were a must, but I wanted to make it more practical too. 

Enter: the shelf over the washer dryer. This was one of my favorite features of our old laundry room renovation because it was just so convenient to have everything you need for laundry right there. No more reaching above your head and fumbling with all the heavy laundry detergents. 

Rather than just make the exact shelf we’ve made before, we decided to go a different direction: a floating shelf. 

DIY floating shelf over washer dryer in laundry room with blue cabinets

Though we are using this floating shelf for above a washer/dryer, it would also look amazing anywhere you wanted a large floating shelf. If you don’t want it to be wall-to-wall, that’s okay too. You’ll just add pieces to either side of the shelf to enclose the sides as well. If you do that, then suddenly this works perfectly as a DIY mantle too! 

Alright, regardless of where you want to place it, let’s dive in and start DIYing this large floating shelf! 

How to Make a DIY Floating Shelf 

Recommended Tools:

Shopping List: 

If you want to copy our finish, you’ll also need: Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, Minwax Honey and Dark Walnut Stains, and Minwax One-Coat Polyurethane in Satin. 

Dimensions

The length of this shelf is completely customizable! We cut ours to be 5’ 1” to fit from wall-to-wall in my mom’s laundry room, but feel free to adjust to fit your space. We chose an 8” depth for ours, but again, this can be adjusted. 

The height is 4”. If you wanted your shelf to be even chunkier, you can use a 2×4 for the center instead, which would make your overall height 5”.

wood floating shelf over top loading washing machine

STEP 1: CUT YOUR PLYWOOD

This is arguably the most difficult step of the project because it can be a challenge to cut long, straight cuts at an angle. 

We used our circular saw for this step. We tried using both the Kreg straight edge cutting guide and a scrap piece of wood as a guide for the circular saw and didn’t have much of a preference between the two options. If you’re using a scrap piece of wood, just make sure it’s straight and fully touching the surface of the wood all the way across. 

Unfortunately every saw may be slightly different, so I can’t give you an exact distance to place your circular saw guide to cut the correct measurements. It gets a little tricky to line up with the angle, but most saws should have a line that shows where the saw blade hits when it’s at 45-degrees.

For our floating shelf, we first cut the plywood down to the correct length. Since the walls we were working with were extremely unsquare, we cut it down to the largest measurement. 

Next, we made the following cuts (in this order):

  • 8” strip with one edge cut at 45-degrees (8” was long side of the board)
  • 4” strip with both edges cut at opposite 45-degree angles. One side should be 4”, one side should be 2.5”.
  • Another 8” strip with one edge cut at 45-degrees (8” was long side of the board)

After cutting down the pieces, we had to trim the length of the 8” wide strips at an angle to fit in our wonky walls. 

One tip I can give you is to ensure that your saw blade is just deep enough to cut through your wood. It’s much more difficult (and dangerous) to guide your saw through the wood if the saw blade is extending more than a sawtooth beyond the bottom of the wood. 

STEP 2: CUT YOUR SUPPORT STRUCTURE 

Once you have your plywood cut down, make the cuts for your support structure out of the 2x3s. 

First you’ll want to cut one piece that’s the total length of your shelf – 1”. You can technically make it the same size as your shelf, but if it’s a super snug fit between two walls, it’ll be easier to get into place if it’s just slightly smaller than your opening. This will be your wall support board.

Next we need to cut the supports. For our 5’ shelf, we cut 7 supports: 4 for the wall structure and 3 to help hold the beam itself together. The length of these should be 2.5-3” less than the total depth of your shelf. 

Want to DIY buy don\'t know where to start? Click here to grab your free guide!

STEP 3: DRILL POCKET HOLES

Using the 1 ½” settings, drill (2) pocket holes on one side of the supports that will be used to attach to the wall support.

Using the ¾” settings, drill (2) pocket holes on one side of the supports that will be used to hold the beam together. Though we’re drilling into 1 ½” wood, we need to use the ¾” settings here since we are securing it to ¾” wood. 

Note: we wrote the tutorial for how it would be strongest, but we actually drilled them all using the ¾” settings and used 1.25” Kreg screws. It’s plenty strong for our needs. You can decide if you want to switch the settings or not.

STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE FLOATING SHELF

First, lay out your boards how you’ll want them to go together, with the long sides facing up. Add a few long pieces of tape across all three boards. This will help clamp the pieces together during assembly. Once taped, carefully flip it over.

taping maple plywood together

Then, install the supports to the inside of the middle pieces of the floating shelf using glue and 1.25” Kreg screws. The supports should be exactly the same size as the inside of the middle piece, so make sure it stays nice and lined up.

We positioned one in the middle and then placed the other two about a foot from the edge of the shelf. In hindsight, I would’ve installed the two other boards flush with the edges instead. Luckily the exact placement doesn’t really matter. 

securing 2x3 to middle of plywood

Add wood glue to the angled edges of the shelf and to the sides of the supports. 

Fold the sides of the shelf up so that they touch the supports. It might take a little pressure to get them to touch the supports. 

Add 3-4 (1.5”) nails to each of the supports on each side, alternating the angle on your nail gun for a stronger hold. 

nailing maple plywood to create shelf

If needed, you can add some clamps to the shelf to continue holding it in place as the glue dries. Wipe off any excess glue that might have seeped out of the sides. 

STEP 5: FINISH THE FLOATING SHELF

After letting the glue dry for 12-24 hours, it’s time to finish this floating shelf! If you have some gaps between your boards, don’t be discouraged. 

before and after mitered corners with gaps

Wet the corners with a damp paper towel and run a screwdriver (or the Kreg square head driver) over the edges of the boards to bend the wood fibers. This will help minimize or eliminate the appearance of any gaps. 

bending edges of plywood with screwdriver

If you still have gaps after this, apply some stainable wood filler to the seams. Once it’s dry, sand off any excess. 

Sand the entire shelf with 220 grit sandpaper to prep it for stain or paint. We finished ours with Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner and a coat of Minwax Honey stain. I then decided I wanted it to be slightly darker, so I topped it with a coat of Minwax Dark Walnut. 

After letting it dry for 4 hours, I applied two coats of Minwax One-Coat Polyurethane in Clear Satin, sanding lightly with 220 grit sandpaper between coats. I know that it literally says “one-coat” in the name, but I’ve found that you get a much more beautiful and even finish with two coats. 

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet

STEP 6: BUILD THE WALL SUPPORT STRUCTURE

The wall support is what’s going to secure into studs in your wall and hold this floating shelf up strong. To assemble the wall support structure, use glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. 

When placing the supports on the wall support board, there are two things to keep in mind: 

  1. Don’t line your supports up with the supports that are already inside the floating shelf 
  2. Don’t line the supports up with studs

Start by marking all of the studs on your wall and noting the position of where they would fall on the wall support board. Then transfer the locations of your supports that are already in your floating shelf. These are your no-go zones. 

From there, you can distribute your supports across the wall support board, securing them with glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. 

wall support structure for floating shelf

Note: when we made our beam, we lined our supports up with the ends of the wall support and had to move them after we realized they would be in the way of the studs when installing. We didn’t think to mark the stud placement first and had to make adjustments later.

STEP 7: INSTALL THE WALL SUPPORT BOARD

To install the floating shelf, we’ll secure the wall support board into the studs. Position your wall support so that it is straight and level. Remember, there will be ¾” added to both the top and bottom of this board, so keep that in mind if you are looking for a very specific final height. 

If you are installing the shelf over a washer dryer, measure the height of the washer dryer. Then mark your wall 1-2” above that height. The bottom of your wall support will go here. We opted for 1.75” above the height which left a 1” gap above our washer/dryer after installing the shelf itself, which adds ¾” below the wall support. 

floating shelf wall support installed underneath laundry room cabinets

We secured the wall support board with (2) 3.5” screws into each stud.

STEP 8: INSTALL THE FLOATING SHELF 

The final step is to slide the floating shelf onto the wall support board. It should be secure enough as is, but for extra security, we added a couple of 1.5” nails through the bottom of the shelf to secure it to the wall support boards. 

DIY floating shelf over top loading washing machine

There you have it! Now you know how to build your very own DIY floating shelf! We especially love how this looks above the washer dryer in my mom’s new laundry room!

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