There’s no doubt in my mind you’ve seen these gorgeously-styled DIY picture ledge shelves floating all around Instagram and Pinterest. Aside from the great, modern look it brings to any room, this project is perfect because it is truly as simple as it looks! These shelves require minimal measuring, basic cutting, and minimal materials. You only need a few boards, some wood glue, a few screws and some brad nails (optional).
I love these shelves because I like to change up my wall décor often, but I hate putting holes in my walls. After all, I was the one who painstakingly drywalled and skim-coated these walls, and it hurts my soul a little bit every time I think about hanging something on them. I was going to hold off on posting this simple DIY until I was able to paint my walls and replace our well-worn “dog couch,” but due to the quarantine, I’ve decided to go ahead and share this post now anyway.
For reference, my top shelf is 54” and my bottom shelf is 72”.
If you’re stuck at home and have a few scraps and screws, go ahead and give this a try!
Simple DIY Picture Ledge Shelves
8’ 1 x 4 pine boards: I used 4, but this could vary depending upon the length you want your shelves. These will be the back and the bottom sides of your shelves.
8’ 1 x 2 pine boards: I used 2, but again, this can vary depending upon the length you want your shelves. These will be the front ledges of your shelves. (Also, if you have a table saw and you’re comfortable with ripping down boards, you could use a 1 x 4 and cut it down to 2” width or whatever width you like).
Self-tapping screws (I used 7 1¾ screws)
Brad nails (I used 1” brad nails)
1 x 4’s:
Once you’ve determined the length(s) you want your shelves, cut your 1 x 4’s. You’ll need two of each length- 1 for the back piece, the other for the bottom of your shelf.
For example, for my shelves, I cut two 1 x 4’s at 54” and two at 72”.
1 x 2’s:
You’ll need one 1 x 2 for each shelf, and it will need to match the length of the shelf.
For my shelves I cut one 1 x 2 at 54” and one at 72”.
It’s truly as simple as it looks! I started by pre-drilling my holes to attach the back pieces to the bottoms. Pre-drilling prevents your boards from splitting when you drive the screws. To do this, I simply clamped my back board to my bottom board, making sure the bottom edge of my back board was flush with the bottom surface of my bottom board, and then drilled down into both boards. I put 3 screws in my smaller shelf and 4 in my longer shelf.
Once you’ve drilled your holes, remove your clamps and add a thin bead of wood glue and then attach your pieces with screws.
Add your 1 x 2 front ledges on by flipping your shelves so they lay flat on their back piece. Again, add a thin bead of glue to the front side of your bottom piece, and carefully place your 1 x 2 board on top of it, lining it up so the bottom surface of the bottom board is flush with the bottom edge of the 1 x 2. I didn’t attach the front ledge with glue, I simply popped a few brad nails into it. These pieces are only there to keep your frames from sliding off of the front of the shelves, so they don’t need to hold much weight. If you’re not comfortable using a brad nailer or if you don’t have one, wood glue is probably sufficient here.
And just like that, they’re assembled! To finish these, I suggest a quick once-over with a higher-grit sandpaper (180 or higher, depending upon the quality of your wood and your personal style) and then a quick coat of stain.
I tried to take a short-cut here and use a water-based stain, but I ended up hating the finish and sanded it all off. I wound up finishing these for real with a coat of Minwax oil-based stain in Golden Oak.