Self-reliance is very important here at Woodhaven Place. We believe in doing things for ourselves and learning as many skills as possible. One of the skill sets that have come in handy over the past few years has been the ability to create things from scrap laying around the homestead.
When we moved from our last house, one of the things we left behind were all of Candie’s floating shelves in her kitchen. They had become an important part of Candie’s workflow in the kitchen, and not having the storage was a problem in the new house. When we started pricing suitable replacements, we were less than satisfied with our options, so we decided to make our own.
The idea behind a floating shelf appeared simple enough, all they are is a hollow narrow box that hangs on a cleat on the wall. What is a cleat? That is a fancy word for a block of wood attached to the wall. With a simple understanding of how they were constructed, we started rummaging around in the garage for materials. We were able to come up with a few 2” X 4” studs and a half sheet of 1/8” oak plywood.
With our scrounged materials, we were ready to get started. Candie wanted the shelves above her six foot long baking table so we decided to make each shelf a little over three feet long and six inches deep. Each shelf is made up of six separate pieces. There is a top and a bottom that act as the shelf and a boarder with a front and two ends. The sixth piece is the cleat that is mounted to the wall.
Step 1: Mill the 2” X 4” boards down into something that we can use for a frame. First we ripped the board in half. This gave us 2 pieces that were roughly 1.5” by 1.75”. Lumber’s dimensions are not true, a 2” X 4” is actually 1.5” X 3.5”.
Step 2: Create a lip in the frame (using our table saw) so that the shelf will sit flush after it is assembled. First we set our blade to 1/8” deep and cut a groove 1/4” from the front edge and then raising the saw so that we can remove the rest of the wood, creating a flat surface that has a 1/8” tall by 1/4” wide lip. The picture shows where we over cut by just a hair during this process ( No need to worry about that because it will all be hidden once we mount the plywood). We do this on both the top and the bottom of our frame. Now we have a long piece of wood with a lip along the top and bottom front edges.
Step 3: Create corners. Set the miter saw to 45 degrees for cutting angles and creating the corners. We tried a few different ways of putting the frames together. We first started with biscuit joints in the corner, however that was a lot of work. We found the easiest way to assemble everything was to sandwich the top and bottom plywood together. We used a brad nailer to hold it all together which worked great. We laid all the parts out and put a good bead of glue along the frame. Working together, we pushed the parts together and brad nailed along the edge to hold it until the glue set up.
It may appear to be a little backwards the way that we assembled everything however it worked out very well. Once everything was tacked in place, we were able to sand all the rough edges and make everything flush. You could go back and fill all the cracks and holes with wood filler however we wanted a rustic look so we left everything as it was. In this picture you can see what it looked like before and after a little surface sanding.
Step 4: Stain the shelves so that they matched the baking table they would be hung over. We did not have the exact same stain however we had something that was close. We used a Minwax stain that stains and seals at the same time. Normally, I use a separate stain and finish however this was a quick single evening project. All in all I think it turned out quite well.
Step 5: Mount the shelves to the wall. This, in my mind, was the tricky part. I am really into symmetry so I tend to get really picky when mounting things on walls. The good thing about floating shelves is that the cleat does not fill the entire void of the shelf. Our shelves were long enough to span multiple studs on the wall. This gave us room to mount the cleat to the wall and then shift the shelf left to right on the cleat to get spacing correct. The shelves simply mount to the cleat with a few screws down through the plywood into the cleat along the back of each shelf.