How to Build a Wall ShelfUpdated: Feb. 01, 2023
Build this homemade wall shelf before lunch—spray on the finish after dinner
You might also like: TBD
- A full day
Video: How to Build a Simple Wall Shelf
Building the shelf
Photo 1: Mark trim parts in place
The first step in building homemade wall shelves is to cut the 1-in. band and the cove moldings extra long. Fit the miter on one end, then mark the opposite end for cutting.
Photo 4: Install the cove moldings
Add the 1/4-in. spacer and bottom board. Then finish up by fitting and nailing the cove molding.
Sure, you can buy a wall or box shelf similar to this one at a discount store, but you won’t be able to choose the size or finish. We designed ours with a wider top to hold vases and other collectibles, but you can make yours bigger or smaller. Plus, you can finish it to match your room. The shelf is versatile and goes together fast—it would make a great gift. We made our shelf from cherry, but you can also make it from oak or pine for about half the cost.
Want to try a different wall shelf? Try this floating shelf with a secret drawer.
Tips for building the shelf
- You’ll need a miter saw and a table saw for this project. A finish nailer isn’t necessary but is very helpful.
- If you don’t have a finish nailer, drill pilot holes for the finish nails to avoid splitting the wood.
- You can use scraps of less expensive lumber for the base (E) and cleats (C and D) since these aren’t visible.
- Glue the parts together. Because you can use fewer nails, you’ll have fewer nail holes to fill.
We finished this cherry shelf with a coat of American Walnut stain (test the color on a scrap) and three coats of spray satin lacquer. Photo 5 shows how to mount the cleat that supports the shelf. Then you just drop the shelf over the cleat to hang it on the wall.
Find some of our favorite finishing tips here. They will help you greatly with this homemade wall shelf.
Figure A: Shelf Details
The Cutting List gives finished lengths for the top, front, sides, cleats and bottom. You can cut these to the exact width and length listed and nail them together. The lengths listed for the 3/4 in. x 1 in. bands and the 3/4 in. cove moldings are oversized. You’ll mark these pieces in place for an exact fit (Photo 1).
A complete Cutting List and a Materials List are available in pdf format in Additional Information below.
Required Tools for this Project
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
- Air compressor
- Air hose
- Brad nail gun
- Cordless drill
- Countersink drill bit
- Miter saw
- Orbital sander
- Stud finder
- Table saw
- Tape measure