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DIY Floating Corner Shelves

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Currently in my living room I have a corner that is pretty under utilized, and looking at it, I think this week I want to build some floating corner shelves to hold books and nick nacks. My husband and I have a ton of books that we would like to store but currently we don’t have anywhere else in the house that a book shelf would really fit in, so I’m going to be building some floating corner shelves from some simple material. I do have a Free Set of Plans! for these shelves if you would like to build some as well.

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Here is a video giving an overview of the build process:

In the free set of plans, I do have a cut list and a material list for these shelves. The first thing I did was cut all of my 2x4s down using my table saw.

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Next, I set up a stop block at the miter saw and cut all the 2x4s to length.

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I grabbed the 1/4″ material that will make up the top and bottom of the floating shelves and first cut it to width at the table saw then went over to the miter saw and cut it to length.

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5 Floating Shelves

I separated everything in piles then started assembling. To assemble, I would first take a long piece of 2×4 and a short piece then butt it up to where it was flush on the ends. Note: I always left the side of the 2×4 that has a straight cut on it, facing out so that it will make a nice flat smooth front surface to either butt up against the wall or be the exposed edge that I’ll later cover with trim.

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I joined all of these using a countersink bit then followed it up with a 3″ screw. I do recommend using a countersink bit so that the screw head sits below the surface of the wood. Since this surface will later butt up against your wall, you want to make sure that it’s nice and flat. Once the two end short pieces are attached, I came back and added two in the middle. To make attaching these two easier, I first cut a spacer from some scrap wood.

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8 Floating Shelves

With the inside of the floating shelf done, I grabbed a piece of plywood that will make up one of the flat surfaces and used a nail gun to attach it.

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I am not attaching both flat surfaces right now because later on I am going to need space for a drill to attach these shelves to the wall.

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I went through and repeated the steps until all of the different shelves were made.

Now, working with 2x4s is sometimes difficult because they are not always very straight. After all of the shelves were made, I pulled out my belt sander and attached it to my workbench then ran each end of each shelf over the belt sander to get it as flat as possible. Most of these were already pretty flush; however, there were a few that just had a small lip or overhang.

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Next I went through with joint compound and filled in any imperfections of the plywood, nail holes, spaces and then let it dry for about thirty minutes. Once it was dry, I came back and sanded all the shelves.

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While the joint compound was drying,  I pulled out my router table and decided to start making some moulding. Now a quick note, you can very well leave the shelves flat and square. They look really nice once painted and up on the wall; however, I really wanted them to be a little more decorative so I added moulding around the exposed edges. Also note, you can buy moulding right off the shelf and completely skip this next step that is pretty time consuming.

I made my moulding using this bit and I used just some scrap 2x4s that I had laying around my shop. Note: If you’re going to make your own moulding, keep in mind that you do not have to make the complete profile cut in one pass. I would run the piece of board through my router table once to take away a little material, then run it through again taking away a little more, then running it through a third time to complete the profile cut.

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Since I’m using a 2×4, once I had the profile cut in on one side, I would flip the board around and cut it in on the other and it just happened to work out that two profile cuts from this bit fit perfectly on one 2×4 so I could get four profile cuts on one board.

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After all four profiles were made, I took it to the table saw and resawed it in half.

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Then I laid the moulding flat and ran it though the table saw to cut it down the middle. This now gives me my final moulding.

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It was kinda hard getting a picture, but here is the profile I picked.

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18 Floating Shelves

Next I came back and painted all of the shelves. I am going with an antique white by Behr; however, you can use, of course, any color of your choice.

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20 Floating Shelves

Next I measured all of the shelf edges that will be exposed and took the moulding to the miter saw to put in 45 degree miters.

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Before painting, I some sand paper to clean up the moulding. Then I gave all of the moulding two coats of paint.

Installing the Floating Shelves: 

While all of that dried, I took the shelves inside and started installing them. This is kind of a handful to do by yourself but it’ll be a lot easier if you have more than one drill and of course don’t forget to bring a level. I also cut some scrap pieces to the size I wanted the shelves mounted off the floor to act as spacers.

I would set the shelf on the spacers then put a level on top to make sure that it was sitting level. My floors are slightly off, so I used some strips of cardboard to adjust the height. I would then drill a pilot hole into the studs, where I had a stud location, then also drill a hole where I didn’t have a stud for a drywall anchor to go. On my configuration, I’m going to have two studs in my left wall but only one stud in the other wall so I’m using one drywall anchor on the left and one on the right.

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For these drywall anchors to work, I first drilled a pilot hole in the wood with the shelf in its location then I would take the shelf down and leave the holes where a stud location was, alone, but use a 1/4″ drill bit to enlarge the hole that aligned with the wall anchors.

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Now I could put the shelf back into it’s place and use regular 3″ screws to secure it to the studs. For the drywall anchors, I used anchors that came with #10 screws but they were far too short to go through my shelf plus the drywall, so I purchased #10 screws that were 3″ long and used these instead.

With the shelf attached, I came back through and attached the front 2×4 edge. I did this by first using a countersink bit to act as a pilot hole then used an impact drill to sink the screw in.

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I started off by installing the left shelf first since they are the longest and then I came back and repeated the steps installing the right shorter shelves. To help hold the second shelf in place, use a clamp to clamp it to the left.

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Then I attached the bottoms, securing them using brad nails. I also did the same with the moulding I made.

My walls are not completely square, so the shelves are not going to line up to all of the walls perfectly.  This is where caulking comes in. After the shelves are installed, I came back through with some white caulking, since my shelves are painted white, and caulked all around the back edges. Once it was dry I came back with the wall paint and cleaned up the lines.

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Once everything was dry I came back and touched up all the shelves/moulding with white, then I also touched up all the walls with the green. : )

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I’m really happy! I think the project works really good in this space. I didn’t realize how big this corner was with that little corner nook in place. Now I just need to crawl into the attic and get down all my books that have been in storage!

I spent a total of $72 on this project. That includes that 1/4″ plywood, the 2x4s, paint, and the hanging hardware for the shelves.

If you liked this project and want to stay up to date with what I’m building, then be sure to sign up for my email newsletter and you’ll get an email when I post something new. See you soon!

*Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links meaning, I may get a commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support in this way!

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