DIY

How to Build and Install Floating Shelves for the Kitchen

When we built our house, the plan was to install two floating shelves on each side of the sink. But as time got closer for us to move in, there were too many other things to finish up. So I only had time to build and install one on each side. But now that things have settled down, I’ve finally found time to build and hang the other two. So I thought I would share the process in this article.

I realize there are about a hundred different (or maybe more) ways you can do floating shelves, but I think I’ve come up with one of the easier methods. I just love finding easy ways to do stuff. Let’s get started.

Here’s what you’ll need:

The first thing you’ll need to do is determine the length of your shelf. Based on the space I had to work with, I made our shelves 3ft long. Here’s an exploded view of all the pieces:

The first cuts I made were from the 1 x 12 piece of pine, which make up the top and bottom of the shelf. For these, I measured 3ft minus 3/8″ to take into account for the thickness of the side piece.

Next, I cut the front and side piece. Since our shelves butt up against the side shiplap wall, I only needed to cut one side piece. You can see this in the exploded view above.

For the front, I used the 3/8 x 4 inch pine. I measured 3ft and cut the piece on a 45 degree angle. The 45 degree angles will give you a nice corner where the front and side pieces meet. For the side piece, I did the same but for the length, I added the depth of the shelf plus 3/8″.

Next I cut some spacers from the leftover 1 x 12. I made these 3/8″ wide to match the diameter of the mounting bracket rods. This will allow me to slide the shelf onto the bracket rods for a snug fit. And doing it this way, means I don’t have to worry about drilling perfectly placed holes in the back of the shelf. It’s so much easier this way!

Once I had all of the pieces cut, I started to put the shelf together. For this I needed wood glue and my finish nailer. Everywhere one piece would contact another, I put a small bead of glue. I was careful not to use too much, because having glue running down the side of the wood is the last thing you want.

With my bead of glue applied, I nailed on the front of the shelf. I made sure the top edges were flush. I only used three nails for the front. If you are using a brad nailer, you may want to use more since they don’t hold as much.

I repeated these same steps for the side piece. And with the front and side in place, I turned to the shelf bottom side up and glued the spacers in place on each end of the shelf.

Then I placed the bottom of the shelf on top of the spacer running a bead of glue everywhere the bottom piece mad contact with the other pieces. Once it was in place, I nailed it into the spacers and along the front and side.

This is what the back of the shelf should look like. The gap between the top and bottom is where the bracket rods will slide in. In this picture, you also notice that there is an overhang on the front and side pieces. I did this to help hide the under-mount lighting.

Once I put the last nail in, I let them sit for a few hours so the glue could dry. Then I sanded all of the edges so that all corners were nice and smooth, and I filled all of the nail holes with wood putty. The last steps of making the shelves were to apply some stain and polyurethane. I used a mixture of Red Oak and Classic Gray and applied it with a cloth. Once the stain was dry I sprayed on two coats of poly.

While the shelves were drying, I worked on hanging the brackets. I found them on Etsy and they are made by SilicateStudio, and I have to say, they are extremely awesome. I went with the medium duty version, even though I was pushing the shelf depth recommendation. The bottom shelf hasn’t fallen down yet, so I think I’m good.

I used a stud finder to find and mark the studs in the wall. This is very important so your shelves can support the weight of plates, bowls and other kitchen items. Using a long wood screw and drill, I secured the bracket in place.

Then I finished laying the subway tile around it. I’ve seen people mount the bracket on top of tile, but if your project allows it, I feel like laying the tile around it is the way to go. This prevents any type of gap between the back of the shelf and your tile.

Once the bracket was securely mounted to the wall, and the shelves were dry, I slid them onto the rods. I knew I measured and cut the spacers correctly because it was a very snug fit. This means that once I pushed the shelf into place, it wouldn’t be sliding around.

And that was it. All finished. Leaving a space that runs all the way across the back is the way to go when doing floating shelves like this. It gives you plenty of wiggle room to slide the shelf onto the bracket versus drilling holes in the back of the shelf.

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11 Comments

  • Reply Jessi

    I’m the first to comment?! I’m in love your house, it’s a stunner! Unrelated to the post….Where did you get your cabinets from? Thanks!

    September 3, 2018 at 4:10 am
    • Reply Henry

      Hi Jessi. Yes, looks like you are – on this post anyway. 🙂 We just launched the blog yesterday. So glad you like our house! The cabinets are from a local cabinet company where we live.

      September 3, 2018 at 4:40 am
  • Reply Tara

    May I ask where you got your wooden blinds?

    September 6, 2018 at 8:27 pm
    • Reply Henry

      Hi Tara. We got them at Lowes’s.

      September 6, 2018 at 9:47 pm
  • Reply Mona g

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. What kind of wood floors are those? Stunning!

    September 12, 2018 at 6:07 am
    • Reply Henry

      You’re welcome. They are an engineered hardwood called Padua from ADM Flooring.

      September 13, 2018 at 1:39 pm
  • Reply Tatiane

    I love the float shelf. I always wondering how to get that thick look and how to hang without see the support. Now I know 😉 Great job as always. I am looking forward to add those in our master bathroom for towels.

    October 1, 2018 at 12:18 pm
    • Reply Henry

      Thanks Tatiane. They would work great for towels as well.

      November 7, 2018 at 2:07 pm
  • Reply Amy Meinecke

    What did you use for undermount lighting under these shelves?

    November 4, 2018 at 5:02 pm
    • Reply Henry

      Hi Amy. We used a thin hardwired led bar from Lowes.

      November 7, 2018 at 2:11 pm
  • Reply Melissa Inman

    Love the shelves. Did you not have tiles on the wall before you hung the shelves. I am trying to do this in my bathroom which have tiles on it, and I am afraid of cracking the tiles. Then I will have another DIY project (re-tiling) LOL

    November 10, 2018 at 3:34 pm
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