How to: Floating Shelf

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Forum topic by BobGlenn posted 03-23-2007 04:13 PM 99335 views 6 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 4107 days

03-23-2007 04:13 PM

Want to build floating shelves with brackets hidden. (Shelves are for sale)
These shelfs would be mounted for display with items for sale on the shelf.

Now lets say the customer wanted just the shelf. So the shelf would be removed.
Then it would replaced with a new shelf time permitting.
(I know build shelves standing in the corner and say shelf display only. But you know women.

Maybe some of the shelves would be 8”-12” wide x maybe 2-3” thick x 18-24” long.

Would use a keyhole system, say with 3 keyholes into a 2×4 should provide enough support yet quick and removable for a quick sale??????

Any better ideas

-- Welcome to Northern Ind. Coffe Pot Is On

34 replies so far

View BassBully's profile


261 posts in 4120 days

#1 posted 03-23-2007 11:13 PM


One expensive method I’ve seen for “permanently” hanging floating shelves is to weld 3/8” metal dowel rods perpendicular to a steel strip. The steel strip is then screwed into the wall and the floating shelf slides right onto the metal dowels with the dowels going into the recess of the shelf.

Since you’re just hanging these shelves temporarily, maybe you could mimic the same thing using wooden dowels glued into one inch thick lumber. Drill 3/8” holes into the one inch thick wood and put the dowels into the holes with glue. Screw the 1” wood into your display case or whatever you’re using. Then, all you have to do is slide the floating shelves on and off the pegs.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4424 days

#2 posted 03-23-2007 11:15 PM

I saw a plan for making shelves out of hollow core doors.

You screw a board that fits between the two outside panels of the door into the studs of the wall. You then slide the door that has had one side ripped off. So if you wanted 12” shelves use a 24” door.

You then screw the ply into the top and bottom of the wood piece.

My son bought some shelves from Ikea and they were similar design.

The shelf just floats out into space with no visible support.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

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261 posts in 4120 days

#3 posted 03-23-2007 11:17 PM


Come to think about it, you might not need to glue the dowels into the wood if you want to use different sized dowels for different sized shelves. The dowels would be removable.

-- There are three types of people in the world, those who can count and those who can't!

View BobGlenn's profile


6 posts in 4107 days

#4 posted 03-23-2007 11:58 PM

We are getting somewhere with the inputs.
Had a suggestion that Lee Valley (I believe) had some sort of cleat that you would router a recess in the backside of the shelf. Then I guess there would be a part that is bolted to the wall and the shelf would hook unto that.

Another idea floating round would be a dovetail in the backside of shelf, with a cleat mounted to the wall. Problem with that if you had a 14” shelf it would take 28” of space to mount it.

Cost factor is the main consideration as to keep the price of the shelf affordable for the customer.

-- Welcome to Northern Ind. Coffe Pot Is On

View DrSawdust's profile


323 posts in 4121 days

#5 posted 03-24-2007 03:14 PM

Woodsmith had a article about floating shelves. Basically if the shelf is 24” long, attach a 20” piece of angle iron to the wall into the 2×4s. Then the shelf was made with a small slit, just big enough to slide over the metal. Now, when you sell a shelf you can just slide it off and another one on as soon as you are ready.

-- Making sawdust is what I do best

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1466 posts in 4111 days

#6 posted 03-26-2007 12:34 PM

When you pull the shelf off at the sale don’t you also need a wall fastener to be sold with it?

You’re basically making a torsion box with one side recessed for what gets mounted to the wall. I think Wood magazine had an article about using moulding to make a 3 sided box, routing a 1/4” groove near the top for a piece of glass, putting a small lamp inside for a display shelf.

I like the angle iron idea as it allows for thinner shelves.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View jpw1995's profile


376 posts in 4321 days

#7 posted 03-26-2007 04:44 PM

How strong can you really make these floating shelves? A friend of mine would like to have some to display books, but I’m not sure that a floating shelf could handle the weight of a full load of books.

-- JP, Louisville, KY

View BobGlenn's profile


6 posts in 4107 days

#8 posted 03-27-2007 02:16 AM

JP, Other contributors
Been researching etc. lots of inputs.
Maybe this is not all my idea, but combinations of ideas….................

Here is a cost effective idea floating around in my head.

One could take a board say for example: Figures might not be right, doing this in my head

Step 1.)
2 Board 15” long X 2” thick, These would act as support “PART OF THE WEIGHT” bearing surface would be on the 2” The rest of the bearing would be….. two wood dowells, 16” apart (centers) the dowells would protrude out ….say 10” Almost the width of the shelf. That would act as more support for the shelf. The reason for cutting two 15” boards, as they could be adjusted right and left to find centers on odd built houses.

Just lay a level on one when you go to mount the second on the wall.

Step 2.)
Build a shelf 34” Wide, X hollow inside 2 1/8 thick, to accept the 2” board mounted to the wall.

Make 2 boards for a LIGHT “FINGER PRESS FIT” go inside the hollow shelf…....
2×2 x 10 long drill hole thru the 10” (to accept 1/2” dowell)
Insert these two inside the hollow shelf, that you made “FINGER PRESS FIT” right or left to match up to dowells that had been set on the wall.

This way with floating 2X2 FINGER PRESS FIT BOARDS, one adjust these to match the dowells on the wall, right & left, one could mass produce these and still be cost effective.

Sounds complicated but not…......time, and effort would be mimninal.

Strength not for sure how much, books??
But would think that it could hold them…..........

The proto type in my head says it would work…......

Shelfs beyond 32” would require more dowells, and more floating 2×2
Would NOT make them more than 12” deep

-- Welcome to Northern Ind. Coffe Pot Is On

View Woodwayze's profile


63 posts in 4108 days

#9 posted 04-01-2007 02:07 PM

I have a display case on a wall, which is held by two part hangers.
The housing part goes on a wall-mounted batten.
The hook-section of the hanger is screwed to the rear of the cabinet. There is another batten behind the lower edge of the case to push it out from the wall of course. It has been there for 20 years plus, even surviving an earthquake.

If you are using shelves of a full 1.5” width, I think these might work, as long as the shelf was no more than 6-8” wide. Too much weight though, might pull the hangers out of the batten, or the batten from the wall.

Inside a case, I prefer library-hanging strip, which can be recessed into the sides of the casework. The small metal clips that engage in the strip are very strong for their size, and I have used them with solid mahogany shelves up to 5’ 10” long, without central supports.

Here is a link to somthing similar, for your wall-shelf.;jsessionid=RNBN2HQNUY01ACSTHZOSFFA?_dyncharset=UTF-8&fh_search=cabinet+hanging+brackets

This firm also supplies library strip.

John (UK)

-- Working fast helps you to arrive at your mistakes in spectacular fashion. (Me 2009!)

View Vanyo's profile


9 posts in 2704 days

#10 posted 01-23-2011 11:36 AM

Hi, I just registered here. I have a log home, and am planning on putting up some shelves made of 2 inch thick rough sawn pine, with bark still attached on one edge. The only requirement is they be strong enough to be fully loaded with textbooks. My plan is to make floating shelves using 1/2” by 10” lag bolts. These go for about $1.50 in the big chain hardware stores. I’ll drill guide holes into studs and screw in the lag bolts to the a depth of about 3”, then cut the heads off the bolts. Then the 2” thick planks will be edge drilled at the right spots and I’ll slide them onto the headless bolts. The bolts are strong enough that I figure I can put one every other stud (i.e. every 32”). (I’ll be testing out weight capacity first though)

To make it more interesting, I’ve decided that instead of just cutting off the heads after screwing the bolts in, I’ll grind parallel flat spots on opposite sides of the shaft of the bolts right below the head, cut the heads off, and insert using a wrench on the ground flat spots. This will make removal easier if ever desired. I’ve already built a jig around a bench grinder that does a nice job of grinding the flat spots.

Anyone see any problems with this approach?

View Vanyo's profile


9 posts in 2704 days

#11 posted 01-24-2011 12:56 AM

Here are some pics of the apparatus I used to grinding flat spots on my lag bolts for turning with a wrench, and the finished results (the finished lag bolts that is – shelves aren’t up yet).

Bench grinder with wooden guide (sorry, this pic came out upside down):

Block of wood to hold bolt for grinding:


1/2” by 10” lag bolt, original and modified:

Close up of modification:

I could have done this a lot simpler with large hanger bolts, but only ones I could find online were smaller and much more expensive.

View Vanyo's profile


9 posts in 2704 days

#12 posted 02-13-2011 07:06 AM

Well, after much ado about crafting my own hardware from lag bolts, I decided that though I loved the results, it was far too labor intensive, and I went with 10 inch by 1/2 inch hanger bolts, which cost about $2 each for a box of 100. I’m putting up shelves throughout the house, but still more than I need, but maybe I can get rid of rest on eBay.

Anyway, first shelf is up, pictured below, with hanger bolts for second shelf above. The shelf is more than strong enough to hold anything I’ll put on it. I’m 6’2”, and can hang my full body weight from two of the hanger bolts.

(Michter’s Single Barrel Straight Rye, for the curious)

View bob101's profile


321 posts in 3473 days

#13 posted 02-13-2011 07:24 AM

The floating shelf cleats from lee valley are great , i have used them in the past. u can either make the shelf in two halves and dado the two halves and glue them together or bore a hole in a completed shelf that if I remember correctlty has to be about an inch thck due to the size of the cleats, and they can hold a fairly large load.

-- rob, ont,canada

View Vanyo's profile


9 posts in 2704 days

#14 posted 02-13-2011 07:48 AM

I checked out the Lee Valley floating shelf hardware ( ), but I can’t see any advantage over plain old hanger bolts. It’s prettier, but you never see it. It’s, at best, 3 times the cost of hanger bolts, and can’t be nearly as strong.

View Mojo1's profile


271 posts in 2713 days

#15 posted 02-13-2011 11:45 AM

not sure how to delete my post, sorry

showing 1 through 15 of 34 replies

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