The Mr. has a ton of books. A TON. His books lived on two sets of bookcases (I got rid of the majority of my books, save for a few favorites. I just wanted so badly to free up some of the clutter with them. Luckily we have a nook in our living room that is the perfect place to install floating library wall shelves.
The problem is, I had NEVER done anything like this. Heavy wood shelves with interior supports that were secured into our wall studs…and they would be holding heavy books? It sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. But I knew I had to overcome that fear because dammit, I want a beautiful life and part of that involves getting shit off of the floor, especially shit that can hide tumbleweeds of cat fur.
In the end, it wasn’t as terrifying as I had imagined (as most things end up being…Thanks, anxiety!) and the end result was so worth the sweat and bruises. If you’re interested in getting this awesome industrial look to a set of library shelves like me, here’s how I did it:
How to Build Floating Library Wall Shelves
Note: These aren’t fully finished. I have plans to add a library ladder and lighting, and once those happen I’ll be sure to update this!
- 2x4x96’’ boards. You’ll need ½ board per shelf
- 1x4x96” boards. These are optional as you can use more 2x4’s in their place, but I wanted to lighten the weight of the shelves a little. I used 1 per shelf.
- 1x12x96 boards. I used 1x per shelf
- Wood stain (I used Kona as it’s my favorite color. Most of my cabinets were done in this)
- Cloths for wood stain + wiping
- Wood fill
- Construction Screws
- Pocket screws
- Safety googles + gloves
- Measure and find your studs. This is important as you’ll need to make sure you have the studs accounted for in your shelves before adding the inner supports.
- Cut wood to size: I measured the nook and it was just over 4’ wide, so I made a plan to have everything cut to 4’ and give it a little wiggle room, accounting for any bumps or curves in the wall. I had Home Depot cut all of the wood into 48” long pieces...partly because I’m still intimidated by Big Sexy, but mostly because I needed it to fit in my Honda Fit.
- Cut 1x4 supports to size: I decided for simplicity's sake to have the shelves be 12” wide, so I needed the inner supports to be cut into lengths that would account for that. If you envision these shelves as a box you can see what I mean:
- Since the 2x4’s were ~4” wide (give or take), I used Big Sexy to cut the 1x4’s down to 4” long.
- Screw 1x4s to 2x4 support. You’re essentially making an “E” but keep in mind Step #1 and make sure that wherever your middle-est support lives won’t interfere with your ability to screw these to the walls. I used my Kreg pocket jig for the first time ever to do this! As I mentioned in the Haven recap, I was really intimidated by this jig for whatever reason, so I had Kreg show me how to use it at their booth. Once I got the hang of it, there was no turning back...this jig is clutch.
- Measure and mark off where your shelves will live. I did this with a chalk pen and clearly wasn’t interested in finding a straight edge, so I just did a rough mockup. In the end, we eyeballed the topmost shelf and I really wish we had stuck to our grid. (the vertical lines show the studs)
- Install the shelf frames. Shelf skeletons? Whatever you want to call them. Attach the wood “E” to the studs using construction screws.
- Attach the 1x4x48” fronts to the frames
- Attach the 1x12x48” panels to the top and bottom. I suppose the bottoms are optional, but I wanted a more finished look. I screwed them in, but these could probably be nailed in, as well.
- Fill holes with wood filler. I ended up using two different types of wood filler and I would have to say that I really liked the pink stuff better. It’s taken stain more easily and was less flaky.
- Sand everything down
- Stain and let dry
Cut list (per shelf):
1x4x96” 48” + 3x 8”
Voila! Like I said above, the plan is to get a library ladder and LED cool lighting. But for now, I am SO happy with them! The little robot vacuum lives under the shelves now and it just feels so much better now that the floor space is open!