How to make simple wooden wall shelves

Written by denise nyland
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Building a simple wooden wall shelf is an easy project for the novice do-it-yourselfer. The materials are inexpensive, and since the wood cuts are straight, many home improvement stores will cut lumber that you purchased from them, free of charge. By using wooden shelf brackets with pre-cut keyhole slots for mounting, installation is simple.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • 1-by-8-inch shelf lumber
  • 1-by-4-inch lumber
  • 6-inch shelf brackets with keyhole slots
  • Measuring tape
  • Saw
  • Carpenter's square
  • Drill
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Driving bit
  • 1- and 1/2-inch coarse-thread drywall screws
  • Sandpaper

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  1. 1

    Measure and cut the shelf plank to the desired length. Mark the side of the plank 1/4 of the length of the plank from each end. Use a carpenter's square to make faint pencil lines across the plank at the measured marks. Measure and mark three evenly spaced positions on the line to screw the plank to the shelf bracket. Repeat to mark the second line.

  2. 2

    Turn the plank on its edge. Center the top edge of a shelf bracket to the line on the plank with the backside of the bracket resting on the flat surface. Holding the shelf bracket firmly in place, use a countersink bit to drill a pilot hole through one mark, through the plank and into the shelf bracket. Screw the bracket to the plank, then drill the two other holes. Screw the plank to the bracket through the second and third holes. Attaching the bracket before drilling remaining holes helps to keep the bracket from shifting while you finish attaching it to the plank. Repeat to attach the second bracket.

  3. 3

    Measure and note the distance between the attached brackets. Cut a 1-by-4-inch plank to that length. Position the 1-by-4 so it is between the brackets with the 1-inch edge butted against the shelf plank and its backside flush with the back of the shelf brackets. Clamp it in place. Draw a line 3/8 inch from the back of the shelf on its upper surface. Between the screws used to hold the brackets, measure and mark every 5 or 6 inches on the line. Drill pilot holes through the marks, through the shelf plank and into the 1-by-4. Drive screws through each pilot hole, securing the 1-by-4 to the shelf plank.

  4. 4

    Sand the shelf parallel to the wood grain and smooth any rough edges before installing or applying a finish.

Tips and warnings

  • Use toggle-type drywall anchors to hang the shelf in the wall.
  • For extra support, screw the 1-by-4 into wall studs.

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