Friday, January 20, 2012

Floating "Book" Shelf Tutorial

A while back in my post about the Sisterhood of the Traveling Vases there was a glimpse of my floating "book" shelves.  Although I built these several years ago, the method I used was quite simple and the only technique I was aware of at the time. Since then I've seen several other techniques that are much more complicated so I'm still happy with mine. I thought I would back-track and show you how I did it.

I actually put up an entire wall of shelves in the dining area of my condo. My original thought was it would allow me to change out the display when I wanted to without pounding a lot of holes in the wall.

To be honest, I really wasn't sure of what I was doing when I built them, so later on I'll also tell you what I might do differently if I were to do it again. Here's the wall.

Here's the smallest book shelf: 

The middle shelf:

And the largest shelf:

The book titles weren't random - they're my little daily inspiration: The Courage to Create, Encounter with Art, The Art of Excellence.

Here's how simple they were to put together.  Take two large L-brackets and, using a very strong glue (not positive but I think I used wood glue), glue one side of the brackets to the inside back cover of the book. Clamp and let dry thoroughly.  Screw the other side of the bracket into the wall.  Paint the part of the bracket that is visible the same color as the wall. Close the book.  That's it!

Since I always have something on the shelves the brackets are either covered or they just fade into the background.  I think the large brackets are required to support the books; smaller ones like I used on the other shelves (see instructions below) wouldn't provide the necessary leverage. 

What would I do differently?  I would use thicker, sturdier books like the center one.  That one's holding up the best. As you can see, the narrow book in the foreground of this photo is starting to warp and bend a little.  I might have to replace it at some point. 

I did have directions to follow for the book shelves, but I had to wing it for the rest of the shelves. 

I started by creating a layout.

And then I scrounged for materials.  I had a lot of remodeling done when I first moved into my condo - it was in really bad shape.  I'm sure the builders thought I was nuts because I wanted to save all the scrap wood they pulled out! That old 1960s-style window molding came in handy, though. Here's the basic construction of the shelves:

The white pieces were glued, then nailed, then painted. The rope trim was painted first, of course, then glued and nailed.  I resorted to smaller L-brackets for these shelves and screwed them into the studs for sturdiness.  For the shelves that were below eye level, I put the brackets underneath, .

For the shelves above eye level, I put the brackets on top.

These shelves look like they're floating as well.  Here's the final result.

As for what I would do differently, I think I would have made some of the shelves a little deeper.  I'm limited as to what I can put up there because the shelves are so narrow.  I also would have made the "lip" a little shorter.  I actually have pieces of 1/2" matboard on the shelves to prop up the items, otherwise they look like they're drowning.

All in all, I'm pleased with it.  And the floating "book" shelves are quite the conversation piece for my guests.  What do you think?  Try it, you'll like it!

Linking up to Whipperberry Friday Flair/Link Party.


  1. whoa love that! and love that it's not just the book, but you accessorized them like a true shelf. awesome!

  2. This has been a simple but great design ! wow

  3. Beautiful! So easy and I cannot stand to see books thrown away! What a nice way to give them a second chance at 'life'.

  4. Loovveee all of these so much!! The idea is ever green :)) also been loving light boxes ATM wish I could get one!!
    Loved this
    Laptop Stand NZ


I'm interested in what you have to say. Join the discussion:

Related Posts with Thumbnails