How to make an easy floating shelf
These floating shelves are handsome, easy to build and inexpensive. And they're strong even though they have no visible supports. They appear to float on the wall, no clunky hardware or brackets. We made them from only two parts - half of a hollow core door and piece of 50 x 50mm pine.
These 'floating' shelves are perfect for displaying your collectibles, photos, travel mementos or just about anything. Without the brackets and clunky hardware you'd find with store-bought shelves or kits, they seem to be suspended in midair. These shelves are strong, too. While they're not designed to hold your old set of Encyclopedia Britannicas, they're certainly capable of it. No one would believe that they're made from plain, old lightweight and inexpensive hollow-core doors that you will find at your local Builders Warehouse and costs around R200.
You will need:
Hollow core door
Impact drill and assorted bits
Drill/Driver and assorted screw bits
Ponal wood glue
fischer SX or UX wall plugs and screws
Wood chisel or sharp craft knife
1. Mark the shelf position
Trace the horizontal location for each shelf using a spirit level as your guide. Use an electronic detector before drilling into walls to ensure that there are no pipes or cables where you plan to install the shelves.
2. Cut the door
Cut the hollow core door lengthwise after clamping a straightedge guide to the door. Be sure to use a 40-tooth carbide blade for a smooth cut.
3. Measure to determine cleat thickness
Measure the space between the outer veneers of the door and cut cleats from a length of 50 x 50mm pine to this thickness. Use only straight, dry pine for the cleats.
4. Fasten the cleats to the wall
Predill holes in the cleat at no less than 20cm along the length of the shelf. Any less and your shelf will not be strong enough.
Hold the cleat against the wall, checking with a spirit level for straightness. Each cleat must be a hundred percent level.
Use the drill bit to mark the drilling location on the wall by pushing through the hole to mark the wall.
Drill holes into the wall and Insert fischer SX or UX wall plugs.
Note: Remember that the depth of the hole needs to be slightly longer than the length of the wall plug.
Posiiton the cleat against the wall to match up with the drill holes and attach with long screws and a drill/driver.
5. Scrape away the cardboard
Cut away the corrugated cardboard cores at least 3 to 4cm from the cut edge. Scrape away the glue carefully without gouging the wood surface.
6. Test fit the shelf
Dry-fit the shelf to make sure the blank fits over the cleat. Check the backside of the shelf and scribe it to the wall if necessary.
7. Install the shelf
Apply glue to the top of the cleat and the inside bottom edge of the door blank. Slide the shelf over the wood cleat.
8. Secure the shelf
Nail the shelf to the cleat using a square as your guide. Start at the middle and work your way to each end. Use panel pins spaced 10cm apart.
How to build shorter shelves
Build shorter shelves by cutting the shelf to length. Glue a filler block flush with the end and nail each side with small panel pins.