How to build a wall shelf unit

Updated March 23, 2017

Wall shelves are mounted directly onto the wall for additional storage and decorating. Homemade shelf units can be customised to suit any room, style and size. Building and constructing the shelf unit at home is also an inexpensive way to add shelving and storage space to any room. A solid wall shelf unit is composed of three sections, which can be constructed using common hardware store items. These sections include the shelf itself, shelf brackets and shelf wall supporters.

Measure the overall size of the wall shelf unit prior to starting the woodcutting. The measurements needed should include the overall length, depth and height of the unit. Also consider amount of shelving and space in between the shelves.

Place the plywood on a flat surface. Draw the shelves needed for the shelving unit, using the length and the depth measurements as guidance. Draw the shelving brackets, which should be half the length and only 1 inch tall. You need two shelving brackets per shelf. Lastly, draw the two shelf wall supports which should measure the overall height of the unit and 1 inch wide.

Cut out each piece with the jigsaw and sandpaper the edges smooth to avoid splinters.

Place one shelf down flat on the table, so the top of the shelf is facing downward. Place one shelving bracket on top of the shelf, so it lines up with one of the lengthy sides of the shelf. Make two marks with a pencil on the shelf and drill holes where the marks are. Attach the bracket to the shelf using the 1/4-inch screws and a screwdriver. Repeat this step with a secondary bracket on the shelf, but spaced evenly apart.

Repeat the above step with the remaining shelves in the wall shelving unit. Ensure that all of the brackets are attached in identical places, so all of the shelves with brackets look identical.

Place the shelves with brackets down, so the backside is facing upward. Line up the wall shelf supporters against the backside of the shelves and make marks where each of the brackets will attach to the wall support. Drill holes in the wall supports and connect the bracket with shelf to the two wall support pieces using 1/4-inch screws and a screwdriver.

Drag the stud finder along the wall where you want to hang your wall shelf unit. Make a mark with a pencil whenever the stud finder beeps or lights up.

Line up the wall support pieces on the unit to the stud finder marks made on the wall. Drill a hole through the wall support pieces into the wall and use the 3-inch long screws to attach the wall shelving unit to the wall and securing it into the wall stud. Use at least 2 to 3 screws per wall support piece to ensure the unit hangs securely.

Things You'll Need

  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • 1/2-inch-thick plywood
  • Sandpaper
  • Jigsaw
  • 1/4-inch screws
  • 3-inch screws
  • Stud finder
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Level
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About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.