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

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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

Shorty

Fri, 10/25/2013 - 15:00

I was fretting over spending a few hundred dollars to buy a bookshelf for my daughter's books when I found this plan. What a cheap, easy, fast, GREAT build!

Marion_tx

Fri, 06/20/2014 - 18:02

Hello Ana :)
I built my first picture ledge today. After I saw your plan and the video I was fully optimistic that I will be able to make one too. Thanks so much for the great tutorial. It will be hung in my daughters room to put a few books near her bed. I used pine select grade and gave it a white wash. It was also my first time staining wood and I loved it so much, I will definitely be making more of these great and quick ledges.

kkidd44

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 12:17

How indeed do these attach to the wall?!?! So frustrating. I mean, Im sure there's some kind of power tool with a zillion amps and a big old nail or screw that will (functionally) "hang" the thing (and leave a dime sized hole in the wall). But how do we elegantly and safely hang it?

pollyplum

Mon, 11/17/2014 - 19:45

I love the lege/shelves!!!looking at your shopping list, do Lowe's and HD carry a product called ' gallery ledge'? Or did you make yours from mouldind/baseboard?

momof2hsp

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 11:17

Can you make this without the pocket holes?  I don't have the tools to make that.  If so, what do you recommend? Thanks

kkidd44

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 12:12

Hi!

It's a lovely shelf. But how in the world does it get hung on the wall? What do I need to add to the thing that will make it hang and be stable? I've only hung picture frames before, and I can't imagine that tacking on a picture hanger or tacking wire to the back would much aid me getting it safely on the wall?

Ana White

Mon, 12/28/2015 - 14:30

For this project in the video, we drilled pocket holes on the back side,
and used them as "keyholes" for hanging with screws in the wall.
http://www.ana-white.com/2012/01/ten-dollar-ledge-project-video

For the ones at my house, I just screwed through the back into studs in the
wall - the frames covered all screws.

You could also use D-rings or any other type of picture hanging kit. Just
make sure you are properly secured to the wall and the hanging kit is
appropriate for the shelf weight and contents.

Hope this helps!

Tulip Girl

Fri, 01/26/2018 - 07:52

i love you plan and video. Made the shelves, but at a loss for how to hang them. Please tell us how so we can get this project finished. THank you

reikidancer

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 09:40

Ana,

I love these shelves!  How deep can you make them?  I want to use them as cat shelves, for what Jackson Galaxy calls a "Cat Super Highway".  The recomendation is for shelves to be 9-12 inches wide.  Would these work?  Would I need to hang them differently?

Thanks,

Lisa

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