Picture Ledge (Beginner Project - Ten Dollars for Full Length Shelf)

Submitted by Ana White on Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:21
Difficulty
Starter Projects
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You can build your own picture ledge for about a DOLLAR a foot.  This easy to build picture ledge tutorial requires NO cutting and basic tools.  Paint or stain any color your choose.  Thousands of people have built this shelf and you can too!  

picture ledge with photo display
picture ledge with books in kids room

Reader submitted photo by Katie Garber

Need an inexpensive and beautiful way to display books, photos, decor or more on your walls?  Our famous $10 picture ledge shelves are easy to build (you can even build these without cutting a single board!), can be built in any length, and are easy to hang! 

What You'll Need

  • Off the shelf pine boards available at any home improvement store
  • Drill (used to build and hang the shelves)
  • Screws (used to build and to hang the shelves)
  • Paint or stain
  • Level is recommended for hanging the shelves
  • A stud finder is recommended for locating the studs in the wall to hang the shelves on

If you want to customize the overall length of the shelves, you'll also need a tape measure and any saw that can cut wood (this includes a handsaw).

But I'm Not Handy

These picture ledge shelves have been built thousands of times, by beginners everywhere.  In fact, we recommend this project as your first project because it is SO easy and SO affordable!  Our step by step tutorial makes it easy. 

YOU can do this!

Reader Submitted Photos from Our Picture Ledge Tutorial

Here's a few different versions of our picture ledge, submitted by readers, and used in different ways.

Book ledges by Crisaphi

Reading nook by karahart

Rustic Stain by a.stauff

Pin For Later!

Picture or Book Ledge

Easy Picture Ledge Tutorial

Dimensions
picture ledge
You can customize to any length that you want.
Avoid going to short (less than 24") because it may be hard to find a stud in the wall)
You can also make the shelf deeper by simply replacing the bottom 1x3 board with a 1x4, 1x6 or 1x8 board

Preparation

Shopping List

For (1) 8 foot long gallery ledge

  • 2 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
  • 1 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
  • For every foot of shelving, you'll need about (3) 2" wood trim screws (like these that also include the drill bit)

What Type of Wood?

  • The least expensive is pine furring strips (about $2 for a 1x3 and $1 for a 1x2) and will paint just fine and stain to that rustic look everyone is after these days
  • You can use a select pine or hardwood board as well if you are trying to match other woodwork in your home or are looking for a more refined look
  • I don't recommend MDF as it doesn't have much structural integrity
Cut List

For 8 foot long shelving, NO cuts are necessary.

For shorter shelves, simply cut 

  • 2 - 1x3 @ desired length of shelving
  • 1 - 1x2 @ desired length of shelving

EXAMPLE: For 36" long shelves, you would cut two 1x3 @ 36" and 1 - 1x2 @ 36"

Tools
Tape Measure
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Drill
Circular Saw
Level

Instructions

Step 1

Attach the two 1x3 boards together with 2" trim screws, about every 12".  

Step 2

Attach the 1x2 to the front, with the 2" trim screws.

If you have a brad nailer, 1-1/4" brad nails and glue can also be used and will be easier to finish than screws.

  • For a painted finish, fill the screw or nail holes in the front 1x2 only with wood filler.  Let the wood filler dry and then lightly sand any excess off.  Then paint as desired.
  • For a stained finish, lightly sand the project.  Then apply wood stain of your choice.  Then use a stain matched wood filler to fill any holes.

Step 3

Locate studs in the wall with a stud finder.

Mark with a pencil.

Place the picture ledge up on the wall at the desired location and screw through the back 1x3 into the studs in the wall.

  • At least two screws are needed to hang the picture ledge.
  • One screw per stud in the wall
  • If only one stud behind the picture ledge, than use two screws to attach to the one stud

Comments

love2create (not verified)

Sat, 01/22/2011 - 10:28

Ana, I love these shelves. I have needed an idea for my living wall room near my fireplace and I love this. How far apart did you space your shelves when you hung them up?

Holly (not verified)

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 11:17

I just built these a couple days ago. It was super easy and I have never built or stained anything in my life. Thank you so much Ana for giving me a hobby. With two kids and a husband deploying soon, I need to have something to release some stress. I can't wait to get started on my next project. Your site is awesome!!

ledges

Kristin (not verified)

Thu, 02/10/2011 - 17:45

If I wanted to make the ledges deeper to place model airplanes and cars for my son's room, what would I need to do differently? Thank you!

mzloca (not verified)

Fri, 02/11/2011 - 16:20

I just finished mine! I did make a few and in different lengths. I will post photos asap. This was my very FIRST DIY wood project that I made from start to finish all on my own! I cannot express how proud I am. They were so fun to do and I think I found the only thing on earth that frees my mind completely....wodd projects! This site is outstanding, very inspiring and a real wealth of resources.

PMSandaGun (not verified)

Tue, 03/01/2011 - 05:34

Would using the Kreg jig to secure the bottom to the back be overkill? I just want to make sure they're sturdy enough for some heavier items like coffee mugs and a slate tile I carved...and framed with a modified plan from here!

Joel Seltmann (not verified)

Tue, 03/15/2011 - 20:44

Something else that is fun to do is to take the extruded PVC rain guttering, cut them from 24" to 48" long, pop-rivet the end caps on, screw them to your kids wall with some dry wall screws and washers, and use them to display large picture books!....Something to get your kids interested in reading by having the books displayed!

Alan Jones (not verified)

Tue, 03/22/2011 - 12:50

Red Picture Rails!These are two 8' picture rails. My wife loves to have pictures on the wall, but I hate all the nail holes, so this is a perfect solution. She can rearrange to her heart's content.
They are painted the same red as the highlight wall color in our den.

k.holohan

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 23:06

i just made these today... although theyre not put together yet i already LOVE them! i made 3 of them all different sizes 24, 32, 40 very easy i only needed 2 of the 1x4's 8ft long and a 1x2 also 8ft long. great project i cant wait to start on some more! i have too many ideas now youre webiste is great!

Pookie's Mama (not verified)

Sun, 03/27/2011 - 20:08

I'd been trying to find some cool spice shelves to pop on the outer side of some kitchen cabinets to keep spices close and handy and organized.  All the things I found, that I liked, were either too small or I'd have to spend WAY over $100 for just a few!

How great is this!  I'll be able to custom fit them, pop a little piece on the side and hang them up with as much verticala space as I need between them!  No more "STUFF" all over the counter!  I may even may a small one with little knobs on the bottom to store near the stove top for the frequently used stuff!

WooHoo!  Thanks, Ana.  Glad I found you!  Will get these built after I finish working on my raised garden bed boxes. 

No cedar fence posts at blue here in NC in 2011, but will use some nice Southern Yellow Pine, lots of it available, and I'll raise it up on some pressure treated posts so I don't have to be down low -- bit of trouble with that, but hey, I've learned to walk again, so who knows, with a few more veggies maybe I'll be able to scoot around low and manage a semi-raised box sooner than I imagine!  The height should keep the termites away too! 

Love the idea that someone made with the high raised box, what a great way to do my herbs! 

Working the square garden concept, but with help from people like Emily at http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net, and you, I'm sure to get there soon. 

Thanks for sharing!

Pookie's Mama (not verified)

Sun, 03/27/2011 - 20:08

I'd been trying to find some cool spice shelves to pop on the outer side of some kitchen cabinets to keep spices close and handy and organized.  All the things I found, that I liked, were either too small or I'd have to spend WAY over $100 for just a few!

How great is this!  I'll be able to custom fit them, pop a little piece on the side and hang them up with as much verticala space as I need between them!  No more "STUFF" all over the counter!  I may even may a small one with little knobs on the bottom to store near the stove top for the frequently used stuff!

WooHoo!  Thanks, Ana.  Glad I found you!  Will get these built after I finish working on my raised garden bed boxes. 

No cedar fence posts at blue here in NC in 2011, but will use some nice Southern Yellow Pine, lots of it available, and I'll raise it up on some pressure treated posts so I don't have to be down low -- bit of trouble with that, but hey, I've learned to walk again, so who knows, with a few more veggies maybe I'll be able to scoot around low and manage a semi-raised box sooner than I imagine!  The height should keep the termites away too! 

Love the idea that someone made with the high raised box, what a great way to do my herbs! 

Working the square garden concept, but with help from people like Emily at http://www.mysquarefootgarden.net, and you, I'm sure to get there soon. 

Thanks for sharing!

Jamie O'Neal (not verified)

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 16:05

I was given a few Pottery Barn ledges that I love but are too wide and this is the perfect solution!  I love working with my hands and have fallen in love with your site!  I will be back every day to see what's new!!

Lorena (not verified)

Sat, 04/23/2011 - 08:42

I have been wanting to do this project since I first saw it, and yesterday I finally did. I'm a compete newbie with woodworking, but it was so easy. The parts that took the longest were waiting for the paint to dry and finding the studs in my wall.

Miriam Green (not verified)

Thu, 05/19/2011 - 10:46

I have been scouting magazines and websites for these type of ledges, but had yet to purchase because it seemed crazy to pay so much for such simple construction! Your plans are even simpler than I had guessed!! I'm making these this weekend for my children's room. Thanks so much!

mrspeldo

Thu, 06/16/2011 - 13:48

I was wondering if anyone knows a good way to attach these shelves (made 4 ft long) to plaster walls?? I made these a couple months ago but have not yet hung them up because I'm stumped on how to get them up on the wall without making a bunch of holes in the wall. :) Anyone able to help I would love it!!!

3rdpigkid

Fri, 07/01/2011 - 15:18

I just found your site this morning and I think I'm in trouble! I HAVE to make practicall every plan I've looked at - even the children's loft beds and I don't have kids!!! I know some though that would LOVE them!!! OK, anyway, I have been trying to figure out how to hang the gazillion pictures I have (2 plus photographers in the family and 15 brothers and sisters in law just to start). My husband arrange a bunch of pictures on one wall of our great room and I hate it. This, however, is PERFECT!!! Thanks SO much for sharing your plans!!! I am SO going to be BUSY this weekend!!

Bianca

Fri, 07/01/2011 - 19:54

...and more to go! I absolutely L♥VE this project. I built one of these for the odd nook in my daughter's bedroom and it looks AWESOME. My husband came home and just LOVED it!

Jessi (not verified)

Mon, 07/04/2011 - 23:23

I saw this on pinterest and it was the PERFECT solution for the awkward wall in our great room that hovers centered between the end of the living room and start of the dining room. We bought really top grade quality pine, but we got 2 1x6's and cut 1 of the 1x6's into a 1x4 and a 1x2 and it ended up being $12 a shelf in lumber. Thank you so much for the idea! It was the last thing we needed to tie our house together. This wall has seen a dozen different attempts at wall hangings to tie the rooms together in 2 years, and it finally feels like we found a winner!

Kate (not verified)

Wed, 09/28/2011 - 09:56

I made my set a little while ago, but just go them painted and hung up in the living room last night. They look great! I'll need to post a brag blog post once I get some picture arranged on there nicely.

I wanted to say how much I appreciate you posting these plans. As a new homeowner (this summer) and someone just getting out of the newlywed stage (married two years), it's wonderful to be able to fill and furnish our home while still saving up money for the future. Plus, it always feels great when you can look around your home and see all the hard work and love you put into making things yourself. Next up, I'm hoping to brush up on my (long forgotten, since my childhood with my mom) carpentry skills and build a farmhouse bed variation!

shannoncaden

Thu, 09/29/2011 - 09:20

OMG, I love this site so many great ideas that i would love to try. I have to admit though my husband made the photo ledge for me with the help of your site (but i did paint it and help put it up, LOL) Thank you so much for the wonderful ideas, keep um coming!!!
aloha,
sherry

p.s.
I'll upload some photos once i figure out how, haha!

Jan (not verified)

Fri, 01/27/2012 - 18:32

This is my first visit to your blog but I have heard you mentioned on a couple other blogs before so I wanted to check you out. I have wanted to do the same idea in my kitchen but was originally thinking of floating shelves. Do you think a smaller piece for the back would still be enough to hold it up on the wall? Amy other suggestions?

YankeeBelle

Fri, 02/03/2012 - 16:37

I know this is an older thread, but since I'm new to this site, I just had to comment. These exact (but way smaller) shelves are in the latest Pottery Barn catalog for $50!. BTW....Kreg has a $15 rebate off until the end of February for the master jig system and Home depot is offering free shipping on the jig right now. Just ordered mine! I am on my way to my very first project!!

Guest (not verified)

Thu, 02/16/2012 - 07:13

Is there another way to suggest hanging them other other than screwing them into the wall? I would like a look with no screws showing at all.

markw

Mon, 02/20/2012 - 06:23

I cant't tell from the pictures how everyone is hanging them. Are you screwing them directly to the wall with a small screw? Or is there a better method?

Thanks!

Guest (not verified)

Sat, 03/17/2012 - 15:32

Just wanted to say that I am unable to open the PDF for the Ten Dollar Ledge. What a great idea. Wish I would have seen this BEFORE I bought some at PB. Oh well, I will be making some for my other walls.
Thanks, S. Caulder

Amy Pedersen (not verified)

Tue, 03/20/2012 - 16:18

Hi! I was just wondering how you would hang these once you've made them.
Thanks!
Amy
P.S - Love this blog!!!

Nadine Carroll (not verified)

Thu, 04/19/2012 - 16:52

This is going to be my first project this weekend with my dad. With this beautiful spring weather I feel like getting busy and decorating my home is first on my list. Hello from Fairbanks.

Texas cat Mom (not verified)

Wed, 04/25/2012 - 07:16

Wonderful plans. I needed an idea for ledges to be fitted between inside walls of window wells to hold my plants up and away from the kitties. [Our windows are inset and there are 7 inches from window to wall.] I need side mounting brackets but that is the only alteration. Thanks.

french25er

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 09:00

hi everyone...i am a newbie and love to learn about diy...i recently almost purchased a set of shelves by PB but b/f was saved by Ana's website...i am now addicted to learning the skills she teaches...i am attempting to build the $10 dollar shelves but don't own the tools that Ana has in her video nor do i have the money presently to purchase this equipment..i have several left over pieces of wood 3/4 x 3 1/2 and i would love to use them in a project like the $10 shelves...Ana, can it be done? these 3/4 x 3 1/2 are not exactly straight or the same size in dimensions.

y-knot (not verified)

Fri, 06/29/2012 - 10:42

Ana,

Just received my Keg Jig, this will be my first project. I was wondering what technique do you used to hag it on the wall ?

Thank you for your hard work on this website, it’s GREAT!!

ademasters

Tue, 07/31/2012 - 10:12

These look very simple to start with although my husband has never let me use the saws before! Lol :) but there's a first time for everything!!!!

mybartmart

Thu, 09/13/2012 - 12:35

Maybe I missed it some how but, how are these shelves attached to the wall? Are they just screwed on through the back piece, on a stud?

thanks can't wait to make these I can see them being useful many places.

I have lots of 1x4 scrap too, but I would like to try some with 1x6 for the shelf.

Lexly (not verified)

Fri, 10/19/2012 - 20:20

How did you hang these on the wall?

kelseyoh (not verified)

Sat, 01/05/2013 - 13:27

I recently used this guide as the base for home decoration - I chose these dimensions:
(1) 8ft 1x4
(2) 8ft 1x2
(1) 8ft strip of base/crown molding

While the outer ledge of my finished project was 'technically' only 1"; since I adhered molding (to provide the 'flourish') on top of this ledge, it actually is a little over 2" which should keep most any art/photo frame - I applied the thicker side of the molding to the 1x2 ledge (same as base/crown molding except the thicker side in that case is attached closest to the floor-ceilling/wall touch point) which can potentially add strength to the structure. I spent only an extra 10-20 MIN adding the molding, which was nailed to the outer ledge with the same tiny nails used for base/crown trim... Lowe's has quite a variety of in trim as far as cuts/designs/depths/heights go - and having several shelves on one wall with random trim OR a pattern (tall ornate trim on one ledge - stubby, thick, simple trim on another) can add TONS of texture to the walls! I only recommend doing this though, if you plan on putting simple/subtle items on the ledges (such as a menagerie of white empty photo frames! hahah). OR, if you happen to be overly-zealous and have that crazy/crafty/homey/mis-match vibe going on..... Regardless - there are innumerable design options!

Thanks for sharing!!

Jean (not verified)

Sun, 01/20/2013 - 11:20

Because we have down-sized from 1800 to 600 sq ft, we need to take advantage of every ounce of storage. I have been looking for ideas for my spices and last night fell on the idea of picture ledges for a spice rack. Today I picked up some 2' poplar pieces for $2.45 and my husband glued and screwed. I'll paint and hang. But I am now looking around to where else I can utilize picture ledges--living room behind the couch, bathroom over the sink, on the wall by the snackbar to store cell phones and tablets, on the pot rack arbor to hold the pot covers.
We have also used your directions to the doll adirondack chair and for the farmouse storage bed (not quite complete yet but comfortable).
Thank you

Mrsstupz

Mon, 04/08/2013 - 14:06

I am building 32" shelves. Is it necessary to drill pocket holes? I don't have a jig.

nicholaix

Wed, 05/01/2013 - 10:35

I am probably too sleep deprived to find it but how many screws did you use to assemble these? I cut 32" lengths and am wondering how many screws I should need? As well as nails for the front? The parts list doesn't say a specific amount and I did not see a how far apart to space the screws. Thanks!

kazey

Thu, 05/02/2013 - 20:28

This is truly amazing. I've been looking for a tutorial on this quite a long time. But now it's already here. Thank you for this post. I will truly make one like this.

Bkcommander

Tue, 07/02/2013 - 09:35

I did this at home for my son's room. Now, my office is looking to have me build it for them.

Great project for beginners like me.

kasimpkins

Tue, 07/30/2013 - 21:38

Ok so I just made these today. Yay me!! I love them! I made them only 5 ft to fit an awkward wall in my house. I am curious how far apart you put your shelves on the wall and how high is the top one? I have basic 8' walls and I can't seem to make it look right. I need to keep it out of reach of the 1 year old (though that's nearly impossible to do with his climbing skills...seriously, he just feel 3' out of a tree. A TREE!!) but they shouldn't be so high you can't see them. I may have to just go with 2 shelves.

Anyway, if you could give me an idea of what you did that would be great! Thanks for taking the time to put together all these amazing plans for the rest of us homemakers drooling over home decor magazines! You are amazing!

Shannon N

Mon, 08/05/2013 - 17:57

I bought the lumber today, though my local Orange did a pretty rough job on the cuts. DH gave me a mini-tutorial on drill use, so tomorrow we see what I can do (as long as the littles cooperate) ;) .

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