How to make hidden shelf brackets

Written by beverlee brick
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How to make hidden shelf brackets
Shelving. (Yellow and green shelves image by Charlie Rosenberg from

The most common hidden shelf brackets are part of a floating shelf design, where the bracket is hidden in the hollow core of the shelf itself. However, if you don't have a floating shelf available, you can invert the concept to build a clean lined bracket for any shelf. Though it requires some precision cutting, this project is still appropriate for novice to intermediate do-it-yourselfers. Set aside a full afternoon for this project, which will leave you plenty of space to take your time and get it right.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Wood strips, 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide by 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) thick
  • Sandpaper
  • Power saw
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws, 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) long
  • Wood screws, 7.5 cm (3 inches) long
  • Power drill
  • Paint or stain (optional)
  • Paint brush (optional)

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  1. 1

    Measure the thickness and length of your shelf.

  2. 2

    Cut three wood strips to a length equal to the length of your shelf, plus 5 cm (2 inches). For example, a 75 cm (30 inch) shelf would need strips cut to 80 cm (32 inches) long. Take the width of your saw blade into account while cutting.

  3. 3

    Cut two other wood strips to a length equal to the thickness of your shelf. A 2.5 cm (1 inch) shelf would need one-inch strips. Take the width of your saw blade into account while cutting.

  4. 4

    Arrange the two short strips and two of the three long strips into a rectangular frame. The 5 cm (2 inch) edges of the short strips should about the 5 cm (2 inch) faces of the long strips. Glue in place, then reinforce with three 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) wood screws per connection, a total of 12 screws.

  5. 5

    Cut the remaining strip to a width that matches the total width of the frame you've built. Mount that strip to the back of the frame using wood glue and six evenly spaced 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) wood screws per long strip.

  6. 6

    Sand all faces of the bracket. If desired, paint or stain to match or complement the shelf.

  7. 7

    Mount the bracket to the wall using 7.5 cm (3 inch) wood screws, each drilled through the back plate and into a wall stud behind. Position the bracket so it crosses at least two wall studs.

  8. 8

    Coat the inside of your bracket with wood glue. Slide your shelf into the bracket, then screw in place with one 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) wood screw for every 5 cm (2 inches) of board length. Screw in place on both the top and bottom faces. Wipe away excess glue.

Tips and warnings

  • This will work for knick-knack shelves or other shelves that support a light load. Hidden bracket shelves aren't suitable for heavy loads such as book shelves or entertainment centres.

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