How to Build a Wall Shelf

Wall shelves can be used for a variety of purposes; from stacking books to displaying flowers. It is a great way to fill empty walls and add extra storage space. A store bought wall shelf is usually very plain and lacking in any personality. Designing and building a wall shelf is not difficult and can be done in a few hours with the right tools. Follow these directions and learn how to build a wall shelf that is not only decorative but also useful.

Build a Wall Shelf

Step 1

Decide on the thickness. The normal thickness of a piece of wood used for a shelf is 1" thick. It can be any length and width that is necessary.

Step 2

Measure the area where the shelf will be placed with the tape measure. Transfer these measurements to the wood. Using the jig saw, cut the length of wood that is needed.

Step 3

For a more decorative look, cut the front edge of the wood with an unusual design. Draw a template on cardboard or poster board. The design can be scalloped, zigzagged or even wavy. Cut out the template and place it on the top of the wood, making sure that it is even with the front edge. Trace the pattern on to the wood.

Step 4

Using the jig saw, cut out the design along the entire length of the wood. Sand the cut edge with the sandpaper to give it a smooth finish. If necessary, sand the entire piece of wood, including both sides and all edges, for a smooth and even surface which will make painting much easier.

Step 5

Paint or stain the entire shelf any color desired. Since this is wood, it may require more than 1 coat of paint. Let it dry in between coats.

Step 6

Apply varnish for a protective finish. If a glossy finish is desired, paint on 2 coats of varnish. Apply the first coat and allow it to dry. Sand with a fine sandpaper, wipe clean and apply another coat. Allow this to completely dry.

Step 7

Attach L brackets to the shelf starting at each end. For stronger support, install an L bracket approximately every 24" along the shelf. Attach the shelf with the L bracket to the wall.

Rosemary Rugnetta

Based in Florida, Rosemary Rugnetta has been a freelance writer since 2007 specializing in home and garden topics and real estate/mortgage. She is a former property manager and mortgage underwriter who writes for eHow and Answerbag as well as private clients. She has completed continuing education courses in writing, construction management and design.