Reclaimed Wood Floating Shelves

I have been so excited to share this tutorial with you. Out of all the elements in my new office I have received the most emails about these shelves.

When you have a small space the smartest thing you can do is go vertical. I was NOT taking advantage of the wall space in the way my office was done before.  I knew I wanted shelving but I did not want a giant wall of built in shelves because I thought it would feel too heavy and would make the space seem smaller. I love the openness of these floating shelves!

I have mentioned in the past that I think that a small budget forces you to be creative. That was definitely the case with these shelves. My original design called for new wood that would have been painted cream to match the cabinets below.  But when all was said and done the budget didn’t allow for that. I have a large pile of old fence pickets in the backyard I got for another project so I used some of those. Free was definitely in my budget. I am happier with these shelves than I would have been if I had bought new wood :)





Remember when I revealed my office and I said that my shelves had a secret????


Eeeeek! They are also drawers!!!!!! I love it :) When I was brainstorming for ways to add much needed storage to this space I thought, why not this? Granted the drawers are only 2 inches deep, but they are perfect for paper! Anything else would probably be too heavy anyway. Right now they are filling up fast with my kids artwork and school work that I will one day put into scrapbooks, and with things I am too lazy to file away.


Alright, on to the tutorial!!!

Supplies needed:

(affiliate links)

*Reclaimed wood (I used old fence slats)

*Miter Saw

*Wood Glue

* Brad Nailer


*1×2 and 2×3 boards


*Wood Screws


I decided how long I wanted the shelves to be and then measured and cut the wood pickets to that length. There would be 6 shelves total and it took 4 boards for the top and 4 boards for the bottom so I cut (48) 30 inch boards. Then I cut 12 boards for the sides. After I did that I needed to cut the enda at an angle (mitered cut). I used the miter saw and cut at a 45 degree angle. I swear I had my husband take a picture of me cutting at an angle but I couldn’t find it in my computer file. Sorry about that. If you look closely to the picture you can see the angled ends.

For the side pieces, the long side needed to be cut at an angle, not the end. I sent my hubby to the neighbors to use their table saw while I was doing the other cuts. (Dear Santa, I need a table saw…..) You can see the smaller side pieces in the picture too.


When I talked about building the bench that is on my office, I mentioned that picking out smooth, straight wood was critical to building  furniture. Well, new fence pickets are not straight and smooth let alone OLD ones. So I broke that rule. And it made it a little more challenging when it came time to construct. But the end result was totally worth it!

It was kind of like putting a puzzle together. I placed different pieces together and saw what worked the best. Sometimes I had to flip one over or switch it out.


Yes, I am doing this project on my 3 foot by 3 foot porch right outside my kitchen. (Dear Santa, I need a woodshop……….)


Then I glued and nailed the pieces together.

What you will have when you get done with that step is a long rectangular tube. You will have sides and a top and bottom. The next step is to mount some boards to your wall.


These boards will be the way  you attach the shelves to the wall. I used 2×3 boards. I measured where I wanted them to be, marked it with pencil, and then I used my level to draw straight line. I drilled a pilot hole ( a hole drilled through the board that is smaller around than the screw) through the 2×3 before screwing them to the wall. I used 5 inch screws.Make sure they are level.

I have lath and plaster walls since my house was built in 1949, but if you have a newer home make sure you look for studs.


Then you will take the shelf and slide it onto the 2×3 board. Usually when I build floating shelves with new wood they are a perfect fit and are nice and snug. But these old boards were a different story. Some were too snug, some were a little loose, and some were way, way loose. Some boards bowed up and some bowed down. I just rolled with it. I cut strips of thin plywood and shoved them under the 2×3. You can see it where the red arrow is in the picture. Then when it was some what snug, I screwed screws through the top of the shelf down into the 2×3. I did about 5 screws across the top and then one screw in each side.


As far as the drawer construction went, I waited until the shelf was built so I could get an accurate measurement. I used thin plywood for the bottom and 1×2 for the sides. I just nailed them together (with a little glue).

They are very basic. No fancy sliding hardware to make them glide in and out. But they work well and I think it adds to the rustic-ness (yes spellcheck, that is a word!).

Thanks for letting me share this with you! As always, if you have any questions just email me :)


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  1. says

    Both beautiful AND functional! The secret drawer is a touch of genius! I love these and will definitely be making some for our home too. *Pinned* Thank you!

    Btw – There’s nothing I like better than the natural colour of wood against clear blues. Lovely!

  2. says

    omg, I have been dying to build some floating shelves and THIS is the PERFECT thing! so much simpler than others I’ve seen and cooler too!

    thanks so much!

  3. says

    I never would’ve guessed there was a drawer hidden in those! I love that it’s made out of wood that looks like real wood. It gives it and earthy feel.

    I’m in love with your entire office.

  4. says

    I love! I hope you don’t mind if I steal this idea someday for my dream home! All credits to you, of course! :)

    Followed you from Crafts Keep Me Sane.

  5. says

    Yay, finally the tutorial for the shelves, Iv’e been waiting for this. And now that you revealed they are drawers I love them even more. Granted this will go on my huge list of projects but I will eventually make them for the living room.
    Thanks for the tutorial and I adore this room!!!

  6. Randall says

    I agree with everyone here: very creative/innovative use of reclaimed material. You could even hide jewellery in there!

  7. says

    These shelves are so cool! The best floating shelves I’ve ever seen, and you built them yourself! I’m so impressed. Your whole office is just fabulous! I love the color scheme! Actually, there’s nothing I don’t love about it. I just love it all (as you can tell by the abundance of !s) lol

  8. says

    Totally awesome tutorial as always and I’m going to have to have a go at these.
    I have a table saw (well hubby does) but it’s the one tool that scares the life out of me for some reason and the only power tool I refuse to use. lol.

  9. says

    Oh my goodness, I love love love the drawers! I loved the shelves & how they add so much storage space. But the drawers, aaaahhh! So awesome. I hope to be able to do this one day.

  10. says

    Oh my goodness, I love love love the drawers! I already loved the shelves & the fact that they’re made from reclaimed wood. I love the coloring scheme. But the drawers? aaaaahhhh, I’m just speechless. I hope to be able to do something like this one day.

  11. says

    Hi Stacy! I know I’m dropping by writing on all your older posts, sorry :| :) But I love these shelves!! I actually have been hunting everywhere lately for floating shelves because I don’t have time to make them at the moment. It turns out that most store-bought floating shelves are pretty crappy! (that is, made of MDF and prone to breaking easily, or the brackets v. hard to affix to the wall). So it made me think when I saw this post – you could totally sell shelves like these! You should have an etsy shop for such things (if you have time – haha) :) I looked on etsy for floating shelves in my searching, and would have loved to buy there (don’t have the $100+ to put towards it, but if I wasn’t a grad student!) but none of those have a built-in drawer, which is such a neat feature! :)

  12. says

    This is SO inspiring – I’m just discovering the world of reclaimed wood and am falling in love – I need some sort of beautifully cool displays for my inventory on a zero budget and felt rather hopeless until I saw this post!

  13. says

    wow, very impressive. Mad skillz!

    I must give these a try. I noticed that the ends are mitred- I assume that those cuts require a table saw (sigh! to have a table saw) or did you use a sliding compound mitre saw?

    thank you for the inspiration!

  14. says

    Just found your site and I am so impressed! I love it when I find women who build themselves. I’ve built a few things and love these floating shelves, the rustic wood mixed with the modern design and the thickness. Very cool. I’ve built basic white floating shelves with a 1×2 frame attaching to the wall then the cover sliding over the top. Drawers are an awesome idea!

  15. Andrea says

    These are great and just what I’ve been looking for in my own home and my DIY nature. Just wondering though about the strength and weight they can handle. How much weight would be safe?
    Thanks so much!

  16. glenda says

    I can’t find the words to describe my love for these shelves, they are absolutely amazing. You are quite the talent, and how did you come up with the design? you are a true inspiration. Love, love it.

  17. Rachel says

    I absolutely LOVE these! I am going to try to make them from some old pallets. How wide were each of your fence pieces? i know you said you used 4 for the top and bottom but im just wondering if my pallet boards are skinnier or wider. Thanks!

  18. Janet says

    Not knowing any other moms like me, I am glad I have discovered some in the blog world. I too, am an avid woodworker. Unlike you, I didn’t start when I was a kid though. I started cause my husband has no interest in it and because we didn’t have the money to hire it out. I agree, it’s much better than just being able to buy everything new. I am pregnant with my 10th kid and I also lust after a table saw and dream of wood shop. I don’t really like using the table saw but they are certainly useful. My favorite saw is a miter saw. The first saw I bought myself (that wasn’t one of my brother-in-laws cast-offs) was a jigsaw. I chose a barrel grip one that I bought online because the handle is closer to your work (better control?). I did not know this meant giving up a variable speed trigger! So mine is either on, or off. Oh well. When you buy a table saw, mention what kind you went with and whether you like it.
    You do beautiful work. The shelves are beautiful. I am looking forward to browsing the rest of your blog (as I just stumbled across it today) and bookmarking it for the future. You welcomed questions. I have two. So you put the “2” side of the board against the wall when you mounted the 2×3 cleat? And also, how did Better Homes and Gardens become aware of you (and Reader’s Digest, etc) in order to contact you?

  19. Tona shaw says

    Hello there

    I think these shelves are amazing I am going to pinch this idea for my allotment shed (which is really my surrogate beach hut LOL )

  20. Gilmer Gal says

    I stumbled across this project as I was wandering through the Ana White blog. This little shelf is going to go with a jewelry chest I am making. I think above the chest, I’ll put one of these “secret” drawers just below the mirror. I can put trays out on top, and put my most expensive and treasured pieces in this drawer. Then it will be hidden for “just in case.” Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  21. Kayla says

    I am completely in love with these drawers (and your office)! Question though.. How deep are the shelves? Everywhere i have read, floating shelves shouldn’t really be any deeper than 8″.. And 8″ deep shelves just aren’t going to cut it for me! Hoping yours are deeper :) :)

  22. says

    I drop a comment whenever I appreciate a post on a site or if I have something to valuable to
    contribute to the conversation. It’s triggered by
    the passion communicated in the article I looked at.
    And on this post Reclaimed Wood Floating Shelves | Not JUST A Housewife.
    I was actually moved enough to drop a comment :) I actually do have a
    couple of questions for you if you tend not to mind.
    Could it be only me or does it look like like some
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  23. Nancy says

    Hi Stacy, these are great shelves but I am a bit concerned about how strong they are since they have drawers. I would love to make them for my bathroom but I’m not sure they would hold all my stuff. What do you think?


  1. […] Floating shelves are extremely practical in areas such as the kitchen or the home office where you need to store a lot of things but you also want to be able to easily reach and grab them without having to open and close doors every time. And if you want to be creative, you can make your floating shelves double as drawers. Find out more about this on notjustahousewife. […]