Floating Shelves

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Project by MarkTheFiddler posted 04-17-2016 12:14 AM 2062 views 3 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch


You’ll rarely see me make anything from pine. This lumber was special because it was well on it’s way to being forgotten and destroyed.

Last Year I went to Mom’s for one of my nieces graduation. Mom asked me If could make some shelves for an old coat closet. I told her I was happy to do so. She asked me If I could use the wood up in the attic. This wood was covered with insulation and very banged up. I could hardly find a six foot span that wasn’t warped. Still there was enough good lumber to use for this project.

As a bonus. I got the honor of removing the boards and then flooring Mom’s attic before I returned home. I say that both as a joke and as truth. I’m thrilled to do things for Mom – always. I don’t care if the job is installing a new toilet or cleaning her gutters.

I called mom up a few weeks later and told her my plans. She didn’t quite see how I was going to install the shelves without visible support. All she knew was that she didn’t want to see the supports if possible.

During that call Mom told me a story. My step brother Steve was a carpenter. He struggled all his life with a disease that stretched his bones out so they were very thin and fragile. His heart was also weakened by this same disease that claimed his sister a few years before. You see, Steve was 6 foot 8 with a body frame of a slim 5 foot 6 man. His sister was 6 foot 5.

Steve bought the wood for a project of which we never knew. Steve’s health claimed him before he could use the wood.

My step father Walter took the wood to the house and was going to do something with it to honor Steve. He wanted to complete Steve’s intentions. The wood was placed in the attic then used by my many nieces and nephews as a support to hold their “stuff”.

Walter’s age was finally slowing him down and although he enjoyed quite a few more years, his big project years were over. Walter passed a few years back.

I’m the third person who had plans to use the lumber. Knowing that my brother and father wanted the lumber to be used well made me try my best. When I say it was an honor to do this project, you can see a where it comes from.

The Shelves are simple boxes sanded to 320 grit. The finer grit kept the walnut stain from turning the unruly pine dark brown. I used 6 coats of Minwax wipe-on satin poly. I had used it before on smaller projects but didn’t trust it enough with 3 coats. My intention was to give the shelves a hard surface. Maybe it was overkill but I kept thinking “It’s soft pine. It’s going to scratch by breathing on it.”

Each shelf was built with a bit of a study support structure inside that allowed me to shove the shelves securely onto the frames I attached to the wall.

Mom had an extra surprise for me when I installed the shelves. Mom wanted to hang some antique wall sconces above the shelves. I wasn’t thrilled about that but I made it work. I didn’t have enough time to run electrical so I had to cut tiny triangles out of the corners and couldn’t run my support structures into the corners. That added a bit of effort. The corners were scribed and sanded to fit the shape of a household right angle. ;) It took less time than you may think.

Mom asked how much weight she could put on the shelves. I told her to keep the center shelves to under 30 pounds and the longer shelves to under 80. Her jaw dropped.

Mom loves her shelves. I did right by her, Walter, Steve and myself.

Thanks for reading.

Added description for Joe.

A picture worth a thousand words:

The frames were glued and screwed.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

14 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23206 posts in 3587 days

#1 posted 04-17-2016 12:22 AM

Cool shelves!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

1778 posts in 2670 days

#2 posted 04-17-2016 12:38 AM


-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10698 posts in 4534 days

#3 posted 04-17-2016 12:47 AM

Love’em… COOL…

I’d like to see more of the stuff mounted on the wall that you slide the shelves on.
... possibly a little detail on the Box shelves too if you can…

Very NICE!

Thank you!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View GrandpaLen's profile


1652 posts in 2754 days

#4 posted 04-17-2016 02:28 AM

The transformation of your Mother’s coat closet to an alcove display of collectables is brilliant, and the back story of the origin of the lumber makes it even more special.

I’m certain your Mother is as proud of her shelves as she is of her son.

Very nice execution.
Work Safely and have Fun. – Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2670 days

#5 posted 04-17-2016 03:22 AM


It feels like I’m right back with my woodworking family. I know it’s been a while since I posted anything. Time has been precious but that’s no excuse.

Thank you all very much for the kind comments!


I don’t have pictures but I can surely show what I did with paintbrush. I’ll knock that out tomorrow.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Ivan's profile


14941 posts in 3349 days

#6 posted 04-17-2016 07:18 AM

This shelves corner looks great. There’s nothing like floating shelves, beautiful style and wall you decorated.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2670 days

#7 posted 04-17-2016 04:16 PM

Thank you Ivan. I left the decorating to my mother. I just put a few things on the shelves for the photo. When it comes to accessorizing, Mom has the touch….

Mr. Joe,

Let me know if I need more “How to” install. If you have some additional suggestions for strength or believe it was overkill, Please share. I’ll tweak it.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10698 posts in 4534 days

#8 posted 04-17-2016 10:18 PM

Hi Mark... Only if you can without too much trouble...

Show an idea of what the Wall Side of the Shelves look like…
... as well as the supports that are mounted on the wall…

I noticed, today, that Rockler selling the hardware for the Wall supports… Is this what yours look like?

Thank you very much…

COOL work!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View sras's profile


5155 posts in 3611 days

#9 posted 04-18-2016 03:50 AM

Nice shelves, but I really liked the story. Well done sir!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View oldnovice's profile


7498 posts in 3849 days

#10 posted 04-18-2016 04:38 PM

Nice looking ”floaters” and inventive mounting system!
I like this idea because it is similar to how mounted my fireplace mantle shelf.

I my case I wanted the shelf to float to get around a massive looking fireplace so I used two 12” angle irons mounted to the front of the fireplace, made a shelf out of two pieces of MDO (it was to be painted) separated with spacers to accommodate the iron angles. I tapped the holes in the iron angles and held the shelf on the irons with screws from the bottom of the shelf.

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

View Bearpaw's profile


262 posts in 4202 days

#11 posted 04-19-2016 01:50 AM

I just finished building and installing these floating shelves. I had to match the paint on the cabinet, but I like the contrast that you have by using the pine. Good job.

-- "When we build, let us think we build forever." John Ruskin

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10698 posts in 4534 days

#12 posted 04-20-2016 05:32 AM


Super COOL floaters…

How much weight do you think they could take?

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2670 days

#13 posted 04-22-2016 02:16 AM

Howdy Bear Paw.

May I say – Very nicely done! Perfection to my eyes. Thank you for sharing.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View Jeff2008's profile


33 posts in 1162 days

#14 posted 08-02-2016 01:52 PM

Well Done. I am sorry for your loss, and it is good of you to share.

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