How to Build a 2 by 4 Corner Shelf

Written by mary jane
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How to Build a 2 by 4 Corner Shelf
Build a strong, solid corner shelf using 2-by-4s. (wood grain image by Lucid_Exposure from

Corner shelves are modern and functional alternatives to a traditional book shelf and cabinet unit. Corner shelves can be simple and plain, but add personality and style to a room. A basic corner shelf can be made from different types of wood, including 2-by-4s. Although building and construction requires more with 2-by-4s than plywood, the finished look is more clean, detailed and polished than with plywood. Make a set of three to provide a corner display area.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • 2-by-4 wood pieces
  • Jigsaw
  • Sandpaper
  • Hammer
  • 2-inch nails
  • Protractor
  • Wood glue
  • 3-inch screws for installation
  • Drill

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  1. 1

    Measure both walls at the corner where the shelf will go, to help you determine what size you want the shelf to be. Write down the lengths for the sides of the shelf.

  2. 2

    Draw pencil lines on the 2-by-4 for the side pieces; remember that one board will go behind the other one, so make the second board shorter than the first by the thickness of the board--usually 1 1/2 inches. Cut the two pieces using the jigsaw and sandpaper the edges. Lay the two pieces on their sides in an L-shape. Connect the two pieces in the corner of the shape using a hammer and a coupld of 2-inch nails.

  3. 3

    Measure the distance between the outside edges of the ends of the L, mark that length on a third piece of 2-by-4 using the pencil, and cut the piece. The third piece will connect the ends of the L-shaped piece to create a triangle, so the corners of the three pieces need to be cut again--this time at an angle--so the third piece fits in smoothly.

  4. 4

    Use the protractor to figure and mark 45-degree angles on each end of the L-shaped piece, angling away from the wall edges, and cut off those corners. Place the third piece on top of the newly cut ends with its corners resting on the corners of the L-shape ends. Run the pencil along the cut ends to mark the angled lines on the third piece. Cut them using the jigsaw, and sandpaper the edges smooth.

  5. 5

    Apply wood glue to the ends of the L-shape and slide the third piece in place to create the triangle. Use the hammer and nails to attach the third piece securely. Drive in the nails from the L-shaped piece into the third piece, so that no nail heads will show when the shelf is mounted in the corner.

  6. 6

    Place the triangle on a flat surface. Place 2-by-4 pieces close together on top of the triangle to make a shelf surface. Then reverse the pieces, with the triangle on top of the 2-by-4s, and mark along its edges with the pencil to show where the 2-by-4 pieces need to be cut to only cover the surface of the triangle. Cut each piece with the jigsaw and sandpaper the edges.

  7. 7

    Apply wood glue around the top edges of the triangle. Place each 2-by-4 piece in its appropriate spot and apply pressure. Ensure each piece has dried before installing the corner shelf on the wall.

  8. 8

    Hold the shelf up against the corner where it will be installed. Using the drill and the 3-inch-long screws, attach the corner shelf to the wall through the triangle's side pieces. Use at least two to three screws for a shelf with 10-inch-long sides, more if the shelf is larger.

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