Walnut Floating Shelves

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Project by Schnur posted 01-25-2016 12:41 AM 1615 views 11 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The first version of any of my woodworking projects never seem to turn out the way I hope, no matter how much planning is involved. Experience can minimize errors in construction and design, but I still expect to need to churn out a version 2.0 even when I’m a seasoned woodworker. I accept it as part of the craft, as it highlights that there is always something new to learn.
The first version of these shelves was made of 1/2” tropical walnut stock, which warped over its 16” span and was not interesting due to the lack of grain contrast. Pocket hole joints were used to hold the drawers together, which split the wood in many places and didn’t add any visual interest. The mechanism used to prevent the drawers from falling out was too large and didn’t allow the drawers to come out very far. The back plates used to attach to the wall mounts were also attached via pocket hole jointery, which wasn’t accurate and prevented the drawers from seating evenly. Finally, they were finished with danish oil, which was not slick enough to allow for smooth drawer action.
The second version rectified these problems by utilizing 5/8” domestic walnut, through dowel joints, a minimal drawer stop mechanism, and back plates secured with dados. Finally, they were finished with three coats of polyurethane and then two coats of paste wax to ensure a smooth drawer action.
Inexperience led to these mistakes, but those mistakes taught valuable lessons. I’ve already started a version 1.0 of another project and am certain I will learn much from it.


11 comments so far

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

7666 posts in 1796 days

#1 posted 01-25-2016 02:25 AM

Very impressive.


View Bobsboxes's profile


1091 posts in 2080 days

#2 posted 01-25-2016 03:37 AM

Very nice, great looking, and enjoyed your thought process on problems during building.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View pottz's profile (online now)


749 posts in 401 days

#3 posted 01-25-2016 03:45 AM

your dead on man we must fail to learn and grow the more we fail and the faster we fail the faster we learn and get better so in essence failure is essential to becoming better at what we strive to become-you my friend need not worry your where you need too be,great job love it.

-- sawdust the bigger the pile the bigger my smile-larry,so cal.

View Chuck McIntyre's profile

Chuck McIntyre

74 posts in 689 days

#4 posted 01-25-2016 03:50 AM

Very sharp! I agree wholeheartedly with your learning curve assessment. I am pretty sure I have learned more from my mistakes than anything else. Collectively, all those mistakes add up to experience. Keep up the good work!


-- Wood is a gift from God that maintains its beauty forever via the hand of a woodworker.

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

742 posts in 2848 days

#5 posted 01-25-2016 01:09 PM

beautifully done. Craftsmanship doesn’t always happen on the first try.

-- Scott, Irmo SC

View david38's profile


2364 posts in 1760 days

#6 posted 01-25-2016 01:26 PM

nice looking work

View majuvla's profile


8657 posts in 2284 days

#7 posted 01-25-2016 01:37 PM

Beautiful design. Zebra wood is a good combination with walnut.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2283 days

#8 posted 01-25-2016 03:40 PM

It’s very creative and it turned out nicely.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View oldnovice's profile


5637 posts in 2784 days

#9 posted 01-25-2016 05:17 PM

Neat idea, well done!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Bill_Steele's profile


115 posts in 1148 days

#10 posted 01-26-2016 08:15 PM

Really nice work! I like version 2.0 and I feel your pain. I’m prone to analysis paralysis and I’ve often thought about just building a project in framing lumber (v1.0) before I break out the expensive hardwoods. I once built a table top out of white oak, quilted maple, and Paduak. I didn’t think about wood expansion and contraction (doh!) and it ended up splitting. A hard lesson.

My girlfriend has been after me to build her some floating drawers. I’ve been wondering how stable they will be on the wall—I guess you have to anchor them into studs for sure. My concern is the mounting and making sure that the drawer does not flex up/down with use or over time. I see that you have an Oak board that fits in a recess—is that working out well for you?

Thanks for posting this project.

View Schnur's profile


11 posts in 312 days

#11 posted 01-29-2016 03:51 AM

Thank you everyone for the kind comments!
Bill, each oak board that fits into the back of the shelves is secured to the wall with three drywall anchors, each rated for 75 pounds. Even with v1.0 of the project (which used smaller anchors), they held up very well over the course of a year of use and showed no signs of weakness before I took them down. That quilted maple is beautiful and the padauk serves as an attractive contrast by the way.


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