Within one week of buying this home we knew we wanted shelves in the awkward space between the fireplace and the wall. We also wanted it to be multi-functioning to hold the dvd player, cable box, and internet modem. Eventually I want to redecorate the shelves and add some more cutsy things but for now I went shopping around my home to decorate. For those interested in building your own, I think ours took about one week (working in the evenings) to build them and stain them and cost about $50.
It took us about three weeks to figure out the size of our shelves. We even made cardboard cutouts that we would hold against the wall to test it out in the evenings. We knew we wanted three shelves and after seeing something similar on HGTV, decided to make them staggered. For the mantle we just wanted something simple that matched the other shelves.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own.
- 2 sheets of plywood
- 2×4 wood
- 3/4 inch dowels
- 1×4 edge board
Here’s all the equipment my husband said we ended up using. I’m just going to trust him and nod my head and smile because honestly I have no idea what any of the tools are called usually.
- Chop Saw
- Table Saw
- Drill Driver
- 5/16 Drill Bit
- Phillips Head
- Finish Nailer
- Stud finder
How to Build a Fireplace Mantle
Because the fireplace mantle only has one side attached to the wall, we wanted to make sure it would be more sturdy when built so is a little different than the larger shelves. Start by using a stud finder and drill a hole the size of your dowels through the studs where your shelf will go. Make sure this is a tight fit and then stick your dowels into the hole. Make sure that you make the holes level so that your shelf sits level on the wall.
Then use your 2×4 to build a basic box the size of your mantle (minus the width of your finishing board). You will drill a hole in the side of your box and half way through the side furthest from the wall for the dowel to sit in. This will help make it sturdy.
I’m so excited with how the mantle turned out and so glad we decided to do a mantle to match while we were making the floating shelves!
How to Make Floating Shelves
Measure double, triple, quadruple times. And then ask your handy husband (or neighbor or child) or anyone who can use a measuring tape to check your measurements. After ours got finished, I sat down to admire our shelves and said “the middle one is 1/2 inch too high.” Yes, I have a freaky sense of measurements. Husband swore I was just going crazy but he pulled out the measuring tape just to prove me wrong….haha. Ya not so much. Half an inch too high. Oh well. Next time we’ll measure a few more times.
As with the mantle, find your studs and mark them. Cut your 2×4 down to make a box the size you want your shelf (minus the width of your finishing board times two). Just like with the mantle, you’ll build your base shelf and then nail on the finishing board at the end which will add more depth and width to the shelf.
Once your base is built, drill the base into the studs and make sure they are nice and tight. If you can’t find the studs for some reason, make sure and use drywall anchors to make it more secure. If you’re going for a full floating shelf with just the back edge against the wall, I highly suggest using the dowel method like we did on the mantle for the full shelves. The only way you could get away with not doing it is if you know you won’t be putting anything more than a few pounds on the shelves…ever. I would highly suggest doing it though unless you have a side wall like we do to mount it to as well.
As you can see in the picture below, we knew we planned on putting our tv players on the bottom shelf so added extra support into the shelf to make sure it would be strong enough to support more weight.
Once you have your shelves attached to the wall, check to make sure they are flush to the wall. Our walls were curved a little so we had to make a little shim, which you can see on the far right of the shelf against the wall in the picture below, to make sure it attached well.
We just used plywood for the top and bottom or our shelves since it is much cheaper than buying fancy wood. For the sides we bought 1x4 pine wood. We then stained it all a nice espresso stain (which also happens to match our kitchen cabinets quite wonderfully). Then all you need to do is attach them with a nailer and voila!! Beautiful, lovely, diy shelves you can showoff to the world and be proud of.
If you have any questions about any steps in this process, please shoot me an email or leave a comment below. I’d love to help you out.
Find out how we hid our ugly tv cords here.
Interested in learning more about power tools? Sign up for my FREE 7 Days to Nailing Power Tools course.
Save $$$, time, & resources!
Grab this free PDF with 9 handy DIY hacks & tips you need to know!