Easy DIY Floating Shelves


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February 1, 2024
Zoe Hunt

Floating shelves are cool and trendy, but they can feel like a mystery. There are no visible screws or brackets holding the shelves up, so how do they securely float on the wall? In this post, we’re breaking down how to build and hang DIY floating shelves. Once you’re done reading, you’ll understand how floating shelves “float” and how to make them yourself. 

DIY floating shelves above toilet in bathroom with dark walls

The key here is “make them yourself.” There are a lot of expensive floating shelf hardware options available online, but we’re here to show you a simple way to get the look without the expensive hardware.

Alright, let’s dive in and DIY some floating shelves! 

How to Build DIY Floating Shelves

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Shopping List: 

The quantity will vary based on how many shelves you want and how large you would like to make them, but here’s what we used for the floating shelves pictured above the toilet:


The beauty of DIY is that you can customize things to fit your space! For reference, our shelves are 26” W 6.25” D x 2.5” H. 

DIY floating shelves hanging in small bathroom


Here’s how you’ll decide what your cuts will be (assuming you are using the same material thicknesses): 

W = desired final width, D = desired final depth. 

Please note that if you want your shelves to be significantly deeper, say 12” or more, you may want to use a different tutorial that uses 2x4s or something else as the shelf support. 

  • (1) Top of Shelf: W – 1” x D – ½”
  • (1) Bottom of Shelf: same as top of shelf 
  • (1) Front Frame: W (both sides cut at a 45-degree angle)
  • (2) Sides Frame: D (one side cut at a 45-degree angle)
  • (1) Wall Support: W – 1 ¼”
  • (Varies) Shelf Support: D – 2 ¼”

If you decide to make your shelves shorter than ours, you can use 3 supports. If you make your shelves longer than ours, you may need to add additional supports. We used 4 supports on each of our shelves. 

Once you have your cut list, you can make your cuts. We used our circular saw to cut down the ½” plywood to create the top and bottom of the shelves. 

Then we used our miter saw to cut the front and side frames out of the ½” x 3 boards. For the front frame, we cut both sides at a 45-degree angle so that we could have pretty mitered corners on our shelves rather than seeing the end grain of the board. 

marking where to cut wood for floating shelves

For the side frame pieces, we cut one side at a 45-degree angle. The dimensions that you calculated earlier reflect the longer side of your boards after cutting the angles. Check out this post about using a speed square for tips on how to accurately mark your angles before cutting.

Once those pieces were cut, we cut the wall support board and the shelf supports out of the 2×2. 

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet


So there are two main ways that you can go here. I prefer to “assemble” the front and side frame first before sliding in the top and bottom pieces, but you can also just nail the frame pieces on one at a time. 

If you want to “assemble” the frame first, place your front frame in between the two side frame pieces, with the angled sides touching. Add a piece of painter’s tape across the seams and then flip it over. 

Add glue to the angled edges and then fold the side pieces up. They won’t be fully secure yet, but that’s okay. The tape will help keep things lined up as we move onto the next step. 

adding glue to mitered corners of floating shelf


Add some wood glue around the edges of the top. Slide the top between the frame and clamp it so that the top of the top is flush with the top of the frame. 

Use 1” nails to secure the frame to the top of the shelf.

nailing frame to front of DIY floating shelf

Repeat with the bottom piece, this time lining up the bottom of the bottom to be flush with the bottom of the frame. 


To finish our shelves, I filled any nail holes and seams with stainable wood filler and then sanded off the excess. I sanded everything with 220 grit sandpaper to prep it for the stain and then applied a pre-stain wood conditioner. 

I stained the shelves with Minwax Mocha stain and then sealed them with 2 coats of Helmsman Spar Urethane in Clear Satin. Polycrylic would work great here too. We just used the Helmsman since that’s what we were using on a matching vanity and we wanted that to have some resistance to water. 


Before we can assemble the shelf support structure, we first need to identify where the studs are in relation to where we want to hang the shelves. 

Grab your wall support board to mock up the spacing and mark where the studs align with your wall support board. Once installed, the floating shelves will extend ~⅝” beyond either side of the wall support board. 

marking stud placement on support board for floating shelves

Now that we know where the studs fall, we can avoid those areas when installing the shelf supports. 

Using the 1 ½” settings, drill (2) pocket holes on one end of each of your shelf support boards. 

Using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws, secure the shelf support boards to the wall support board. Ideally you will have one shelf support on either end of the wall support board and then the rest can be evenly distributed between them. 

installing shelf supports to wall support board using pocket holes

If your studs are close to the end of the wall support board, install the shelf support boards that you can and then we’ll install the ones that are in line or close to the stud after hanging. 


Determine how high you want to hang your floating shelf. Once installed, the floating shelf will sit a little over ½” lower than the bottom of your wall support board. 

We hung our first shelf approximately 22” above the top of the toilet and placed the second shelf approximately 16” above the bottom shelf. 

brackets for floating shelves over toilet

Secure the wall support board into the studs using 3” wood screws. If you had a shelf support board that needed to be installed after hanging the wall support, you can add it now. 

securing wall brackets to the studs to hang DIY floating shelves


Slide your shelf onto the floating shelf support. Using 1” nails, secure the shelf to the shelf support board in a few places along the back of the shelf. 

sliding DIY floating shelf onto bracket to install

There you have it! Now you have your very own DIY floating shelves! I don’t know about you, but I find it so satisfying to slide the floating shelf onto the support board. It’s like the shelves are hanging like magic, but really, you have a solid structure secured into the studs. 

close up of DIY floating shelves made from red oak
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