How to Build Bracketless Shelves

Bracketless shelves are great place for storage. Often we find our homes short of storage and this is especially true in case of small homes. In such cases, bracketless shelves provide a nice location for storing trophies and books and give a contemporary look to the room. Bracketless shelves are also called floating shelves and these shelves can be installed over a weekend. Here are some simple instructions, along with the list of material required, on building the shelves.

Tools and Materials Needed:

  • 3/4 inch furniture grade plywood
  • Carpenter's square
  • 2 inch edge trim strips
  • Wood glue
  • 1 inch finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • Stud finder
  • Masking tape
  • Level
  • 2 by 4 inch lumber
  • Drill
  • 3 inch wood screws
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Paint roller
  • Screwdriver
  • 1 1/2 inch wood screws
  • Wood putty
  • Circular saw

Step 1 - Measure the Wall and Cut the Plywood

Measure the wall to where the braketless shelves are to sit and the length of your shelves. With the stud finder, find the studs located in the wall where you will be installing the shelves. Place some masking tape where you find the studs. Now use the level and mark a straight line where you will place the ledger board.

Keep the masking tape where it is situated until you have attached the ledger board to the wall. It is recommended that the shelves extend no further than 12 inches from the wall. Once measured, cut the plywood to size with the circular saw.

Step 2 - Building the Support Frame for the Bracketless Shelves

Cut your 4 pieces of 2 by 4 inch lumber to the size of 1/2 by 1 inch boards. Once they are cut out, nail the 4 boards to each other with the hammer using the finishing nails of 1 inch. This creates the support framework. The framework should allow the 3/4 inch plywood edge to be set back from the shelf boards. With the carpenter's square, check that every corner of the framework is square.

Step 3 - Attaching the Shelves

Hammer in some finishing nails to the inside of the support frame. Place the 3/4 inch plywood inside and make sure that the plywood is set back by ¾ inch from the framework edge. Flip the shelf over and repeat the process for the second piece of 3/4 inch plywood. Now place some trim edging on the sides and front using finishing nails and glue.

Step 4 - Cutting the Ledger Board

The ledger board will be cut from the 2 by 4 inch lumber with the circular saw. When you cut it, leave it 1 1/2 inches shorter than the shelf length. Drill some pilot holes in the ledger board. Now screw the wood screws of 3 inches through the studs and ledger board and then check to see that the ledger board is level.

Step 5 - Finishing the Bracketless Shelves

Prime and paint the bracketless shelves. Once the prime and paint have dried, drill some pilot holes into the top shelf and the ledger board. The shelf and ledger board are attached using the wood screws of 1 1/2 inch. Now repeat this on the bottom shelf and your bracketless shelves are complete.