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We’ve been pushing hard recently to finish the basement into the game room, relaxing area that we’ve always planned on it being. Once we got the floor finished and the walls painted I hung the far too small TV and realized that little things like the satellite receiver had no place to sit. Obviously a shelf was needed. But hey, I like to make cool things so I decided that a floating shelf was in order. For those of you that don’t know what that it, it’s a shelf with all of the support elements hidden from view. No angle brackets, no cleats on the wall, just a piece of wood that looks like it is floating against the wall. I think that’s where they get their name.

I started with a small piece of walnut that I had left over from another project. I squared it up and then cut it to length for the shelf I wanted. Next I clamped the board in a vice and drilled a couple of long holes into the edge of the board. This gives me a place to insert the dowels I will be using for support. (I really need to take more pictures of the process, or even better, video). I drilled these roughly 4 inches into the 6 inch wide board. Once the holes were done, the magic happens. I took the board over to the table saw, and being very careful to cut the right side, I ripped a 5/8″ strip off of the board.

If you do it right, you now have 2 pieces of wood that you can drive a dowel into to join them back together. If you do it wrong, well, that sucks because you have to start over. this is where I discovered that I did not have a dowel / drill bit combo that were the same size. The holes were going to either be too big or too small. And since too big would make the shelf a falling shelf rather than a floating shelf, I went with a smaller drill bit and then spent more than a little time on the sander making a larger dowel into a smaller dowel. I glued the dowels into the smaller piece of walnut and then cut a half circle into the larger board to give me a place to pass wires / cable through. A quick coat of Tung Oil followed by a coat of Arm-R-Seal and the shelf is ready to go up.

I located a couple of studs to mount the 5/8″ strip of walnut to, and then gently convinced the larger portion of the shelf to go onto the dowels. Once tight, it’s ready to have things added to it. And yes, I know, more pictures.  The nice thing about floating shelves is that we can make them anywhere from this small shelf using a thin board and dowels, up to a large, heavy, board using steel internal supports.

The big thing to remember is that floating shelves are accent pieces. They really aren’t intended to be massive book shelves or to be used as a TV stand, they can be, but they get harder to build and generally there are better options than a floating shelf. I’m happy how this turned out for a quicky project that solved a problem for us. Now I just need a larger TV in that spot to give me an excuse to make a larger floating shelf.