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How To Build DIY Floating Shelf with Invisible Hardware

How To Build DIY Floating Shelf with Invisible Hardware

In this woodworking project, I'll show you how to build a DIY floating shelf, which can be built with only a circular saw, drill, and doweling jig. This simple project looks awesome and can be sized to fit your space. Let's get started!

Materials Used On DIY Floating Shelf:

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Tools Used On DIY Floating Shelf: 

DIY Floating Shelf Build Process

As I said in the intro, if you don’t have access to the tools required to mill rough lumber, you could either buy S4S lumber from your local lumber dealer, which means it’s already surfaced on all sides, or you could use something like a 2x8 from your local home center. 

The first step, since I was using rough lumber, was squaring up the wood using my jointer, planer, and table saw. I started by jointing one edge on the jointer, then cut the shelf pieces to rough length on the miter saw.

The dimensions of the shelf pieces are 18” long by 6” wide for the top and bottom pieces and 5 ½” long by 6” wide for the side pieces. I left the two sides of the shelves as one 11” piece, since they would have been too short to pass through my planer otherwise.

Next, I flattened one face and one edge on the jointer. This gives me a reference surface for the next steps in squaring up the boards.

With one face flat, I could put that face downwards on the planer and bring the opposing face parallel.  This is one of my favorite parts of woodworking, it’s almost like unwrapping the piece of wood since you really don’t know what’s below the rough surface until this point. I brought all of the boards down to roughly 1 ⅛” thick while at the planer.

Next, I squared up the other edge of the board on the table saw, also ripping the boards to their final width of 6 inches. 

Finally, I cut the boards to their final length at the miter saw, squaring up one end before cutting the other end to length. 

With the boards cut to size, I could start laying out the joinery. For this build, I used the Rockler 1/2'' Dowel Drilling Jig Kit, so the first step was to mark lines where I wanted to put my dowels. Placement wasn’t super critical here, since the shelves won’t be supporting a ton of weight and ½” dowels will provide a ton of strength. I decided on two dowels per joint, which ended up being plenty strong.

Next, I set the depth on the drill bit that’s included with the kit, since I definitely didn’t want to drill through the face of the shelves. With the depth set, I started drilling my dowel holes. One key when using these jigs is to make sure to clamp the jig tightly so that it doesn’t move. I didn’t clamp the jig tightly enough when drilling a few of the holes and this caused my shelves to be misaligned later on.

With the top and bottom boards done, I moved onto drilling holes in the sides. First, I set my depth again, using a dowel for reference. The process was the same as the top and bottom boards, except on the sides, I was drilling into the ends of the boards. Once again, make sure to clamp the jig down tightly so it doesn’t move.

Once all of the holes were drilled, it was time for assembly. I added glue to the ½” dowels then pounded them into the corresponding holes. Make sure to not add too much glue, since it will create too much pressure for the dowel to seat fully. You can see that I had some trouble with this when I went to put the shelf together since I had added a bunch of glue to the dowel holes. A little clamping pressure got rid of the gaps, though.

After the glue dried, I cleaned up any misalignment in the shelves with a hand plane off camera and then added a chamfer to all of the edges with a router. This is an optional step, but it really gives the shelves a nice look. Also, having my wagon vise on my new workbench makes work holding during routing a breeze. 

After routing, I squared up the inside corners with a chisel, since the router leaves a rounded edge.

Next, I laid out the hole locations for the blind shelf supports. The supports need to be mounted to studs, so I spaced the holes 16” on center. I centered the holes along the thickness of the shelves and then used a center punch to mark the location.

To drill the holes, I used my drill press, which is highly recommended if you have access to one. If not, make sure to use a square or drilling guide to keep the hole perfectly square. The hole needs to be at least 5” deep for the shelf posts to seat fully, so you will most likely need an extra long drill bit. I ended up cutting off about ¾” off of each post, since my shelves were only 6” deep. 

Next, I sanded both shelves up to 180 grit, making sure to remove any burn marks from the router. I hand sanded all of the chamfers to really smooth them out. 

Sanding Bubinga with Mirka Deros random orbital sander.

For finish, I used Waterlox, one of this week’s sponsors. Waterlox is a blend of tung oil and resins, and creates a really tough, water-resistant finish that is also absolutely beautiful. The tung oil penetrates into the wood while the resins remain elastic, and this combination holds up to wear extremely well. I applied three coats of Waterlox, letting the finish dry for 24 hours between coats.

Applying Waterlox to Soft Maple floating shelf.

Finally, it was time to hang the shelves. I used a stud finder to mark the locations of my studs, and then I mounted one of the blind shelf supports using 2 ½” screws.

Rockler's Blind Shelf Supports, attached to my studs with 2 ½" screws.

To mark the location for the other shelf support, I put the shelf post into the hole in the shelf with the set screw that’s included with the shelf hardware installed, leveled the shelf, then put pressure on the shelf to mark the exact location on the wall. This leaves a small indentation indicating where the other shelf support needs to go.

I installed the other shelf support, then installed the shelf. With the first shelf done, I could mark the location for the other shelf. I made sure my marks were plumb to the first shelf using a level, so that the shelves would line up. I spaced the upper shelf 10 inches above the lower shelf so that they were arranged as a square.

Installing DIY floating shelf using Rockler Blind Shelf Support hardware.

I installed the shelf hardware for the upper shelf the same way I did for the lower shelf, and with both shelves in place, the project was done!

I hope you enjoyed this project! This was a simple project with really great results. Again, you could build this project with nothing but a circular saw, drill, and dowel jig if you bought pre-milled lumber. 

If you enjoyed this project, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for lots more woodworking videos and also to my email newsletter using the form below to keep up with new posts, giveaways, and much, much more. Thanks for reading and, until next time, happy building! 

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