How to Build DIY Wall Shelves


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September 2, 2021
Zoe Hunt




1 Day



Looking to add some modern shelves to your home that don’t cost a fortune? DIY them!

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to make some DIY wall shelves and how to install them with ease.

DIY modern wall shelves with black brackets and oak shelves

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  • Miter Saw
  • Nail Gun
  • Drill (for shelf installation)

What You’ll Need

Cut List

The following cut list serves as a guide for one shelf. It’s always more accurate to cut as you go rather than cutting everything upfront. Your measurements might differ slightly than the provided measurements.

For What?Board SizeQuantityLength (inches)
Horizontal Boards1×265.5
Vertical Boards1×2423.75

How to Make Modern Wall Shelves

New to DIY? Download our free 5 Steps to Getting Start with DIY guide!

how to build a modern wall shelf text overlay on side view image of wall shelf


Make your cuts according to the cut list above.

Before cutting your horizontal boards, be sure to measure your 1×6 width. Oftentimes a 1×6 won’t measure exactly 5.5″ wide. If that’s the case, you can adjust your horizontal board size to ensure your shelves will fit. Err on the side of making your horizontal boards slightly larger than your shelf width.

primed pine boards cut to size


Before we start assembling. Press a layer of wood glue into the ends of all of the horizontal boards. Don’t worry about the glue drying, we want to add two layers of glue to each piece for a stronger hold, so we’ll start with adding the first layer to all the boards upfront.

pressing glue into end grain

Next, grab a vertical board and a horizontal board. Add a second layer of wood glue to the horizontal board, then line it up with the end of the vertical board.

Make sure the boards are square and flush and clamp them tightly in place. Shoot 2 nails through the vertical board and into the horizontal board. Repeat with the other side.

attaching two boards and making sure it is a square

Now measure 11.25″ from the top of your vertical board. This is where we’ll place the horizontal board that will support the second shelf.

long board with three short boards attached for shelf supports


Add the second layer of wood glue to each of the horizontal boards and then grab your other vertical board.

Attach the vertical board to the horizontal boards using 1.25″ nails.

DIY modern shelf brackets assembled

Repeat steps 2-3 to create the second bracket.


Add wood filler to any gaps between boards and fill any nail holes.

filling nail holes with wood filler

Once dry, sand everything with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper.

Free download wood sizing cheatsheet


Stain and/or paint your shelves however your heart desires. For us, we spray painted the brackets with flat black and stained the shelves with Early American stain.

I will say, looking back, I wish I would’ve used satin or gloss black on the brackets to give them more of a metal look.


Slide your shelves into your brackets and measure 1.25″ overhang on each side (if you want).

The cool thing about these shelves is that you can get several different looks from them based on how much you let the shelves overhang on either side. Test out a few different overhang options and pick your favorite one! For us, that was 1.25″ on either side.

DIY shelf placement options

Once you have them in place, shoot two nails through the shelves and into the 1x2s that support them.

nailing shelf to bracket

If you want to, you can grab some wood putty and fill the nail holes. Ours were so small that we opted to leave them.


There are several ways that you can attach wall shelves to a wall. We wanted to use what we already had on hand, so we opted to hang ours with 2 d-rings.

Measure 2″ down from the top of your vertical boards and attach the D-ring using a screw. Place a tiny dab of toothpaste on the top of the d-rings (sounds strange, but just trust me).

attaching d-ring to back of shelf brackets

Now place a level on one of your shelves and position it on the wall where you want it to be installed, making sure it is level.

Once you’re happy with the location, press the shelves up against the wall. This will leave a small bit of toothpaste on the wall showing you where you need to add your screws.

If you happen to hit a stud, great! If not, install drywall anchors and then add your screws.

Loop your d-rings over the screws and you’re good to go!

cropped shot of DIY modern wall shelf

There you have it! Now you know how to make and install your very own modern shelves. Now the question is, are you going to make yours the same size as mine, or are you going to add more shelves and create custom measurements? That’s where the fun begins!

You might also like:

The Easiest DIY Shelves | DIY Hexagon Shelves | DIY Plywood Shelves for Linen Closets | DIY Modern Bookshelf | 40+ DIY Shelf Ideas

wall shelf with black frames and wood shelves
make this wall shelf text point to modern wall shelf with black brackets
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  1. Tracy O'Shaughnessy says:

    Love this, I think I’m gonna give it a try! Question though…has the single d-ring on each side been strong enough to hold up your shelving? I’m afraid it won’t be strong enough if I choose to make my unit a bit larger. Thank you!

    • Zoe Hunt says:

      Hi Tracy! Can’t wait to see yours! The single D-ring on each side has worked great for us–but we don’t store anything too heavy on the shelves. If you’re planning to make them a lot larger or to hold heavy items, you might want to consider some additional reinforcement. Check the weight limits on the d-rings or brackets that you choose to use.

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