Leaning Wall Shelf

Submitted by Ana White on Sun, 07/11/2010 - 18:26
| Print this plan

Large leaning shelves. Featuring five shelves, ranging in size from large to small, this leaning shelf will store and stylize any space.

I'm so happy to give you these plans today.  I know they have been requested many times over, and I just couldn't quite figure out how to build these without tons of leftover wood or having to create panels for the shelf bottoms.  I think I've done it, made it a plan I am proud to put my name on.  But there's no way around it, you are going to need a full sheet of plywood to build one . . . or two.

And while this plan only calls for one leaning wall shelf, you will have enough scrap plywood or MDF leftover to build a second one.

Other ways that you can save?  2x4s are cheaper than 1x4s, so try adding strength and saving several dollars by using 2x4s for the legs.  1x3s are about 1/2 the cost of 1x4s, so try using 1x3s for the shelf trim instead of the 1x4 shelf trim.

Warning - this shelf is bigger than it looks! Measure and adjust accordingly.


Shopping List

6 - 1x4 @ 8 feet long
1 - sheet 3/4" Hardwood Playood or MDF 3/4" Thick, cut as shown in cutting layout
60 - 1 1/4" Pocket Hole Screws
35 1 1/4" Wood Screws
2 Heavy Duty Picture hanging Kits
Wood Glue
120 Grit Sandpaper
Wood Filler

Cut List

2 - 1x4 @ 77 4/8" (Shelf Sides, cut and mark in step 1)
5 - 1x4 @ 33" (Shelf Supports)
1 - 3/4" Plywood @ 17 1/4" x 31 1/2" (Bottom Shelf)
1 - 3/4" Plywood @ 14 1/4" x 31 1/2" (2nd Shelf)
1 - 3/4" Plywood @ 12 1/4" x 31 1/2" (3rd Shelf)
1 - 3/4" Plywood @ 10 1/4" x 31 1/2" (4th Shelf)
1 - 3/4" Plywood @ 8 1/4" x 31 1/2" (5th Shelf)
2 - 1x4 @ 17 1/4" (Bottom Shelf Trim)
2 - 1x4 @ 14 1/4" (2nd Shelf Trim)
2 - 1x4 @ 12 1/4" (3rd Shelf Trim)
2 - 1x4 @ 10 1/4" (4th Shelf Trim)
2 - 1x4 @ 8 1/4" (Top Shelf Trim
5 - 1x4 @ 33" (Shelf Back Trim)

Cutting Instructions


General Instructions

NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU CUT THE SHELF SUPPORTS @ 33″ and NOT 31 1/2″ (See Comments)


Step 1

And just in case one of those diagrams is a little teeny to read, here’s an expandable view. You can click the diagram for a larger view.


Hollyn (not verified)

Wed, 07/28/2010 - 09:17

Love the leaning shelves! Just built them as my 1st KOW project...just a little sanding and painting left to do and they'll be complete. (I wouldn't say it's truly a beginner's project though.....doable, but more on the intermediate level!!!) Can't wait to post pictures!

Jake (not verified)

Sat, 08/07/2010 - 09:27

There is an error in the cut list for this plan. The shelf supports are too short to accommodate the shelves with the side trim attached. Either increase the shelf supports to 33" or cut the plywood to a width of 30" for a functional build. I got half-way through before realizing the error. Gonna have to make another trip to the store now!

Mike (not verified)

Mon, 08/30/2010 - 12:17

@Jake, good catch it appears that on page 4 of the PDF it has an illustration of the supports measuring 33", but the cut list says 31.5", thanks for the headsup, I was at Lowes today pricing the materials.

Kelly (not verified)

Mon, 08/30/2010 - 19:28

Hi Anna,
I can't wait to build this, but I have a problem. I have 2 little ones that climb anything. Do you have any suggestions for securing this to the wall?

ana (not verified)

Mon, 08/30/2010 - 21:35

My little one would be climbing on this too! If you were to purchase some inexpensive 90 metal brackets, you could secure it well to the wall. Also, securing the feet to the floor would be a good idea :)

Meredith (not verified)

Sun, 10/31/2010 - 07:58

I would absolutely love to make these! But would it be structurally sound to take out the second to highest shelf so that I can put a TV on it? I'd hate to mess up a project that promises to be so awesome.

heather (not verified)

Wed, 11/03/2010 - 08:08

I am in the middle of building this shelf. I decided to try the *economical* route and use 2x4s (for legs), 1x3s (for trim), and 1x4s (for shelf supports). I did catch the shelf support measurement error as I was going along but I am coming up short with my lumber.

I figured that since the original plan called for six 8' pieces of wood then it wouldn't matter if I was changing the width, I should still need 6 8' pieces. So... I bought two 8' 2x4s for the legs, two 8' 1x4s which worked for four (of my five) 33" cuts for the shelf supports and then two 1x3s for my shelf trim (which will only give me my shelf sides and two shelf backs). So I am going to use some scrap wood for my last shelf support (i'm just going to use some 2x4 and use it for my bottom shelf) and I'm going to have to go out and buy two more 6' 1x3s to finish my back trim.

I'm just wondering, how did you get all those cuts out of the wood listed. Would this somehow have worked if I had just bought all 1x4s? I tried adding up the cut list and it seems to work out to 609.25" and six 8' boards is 576". I am many ????? question marks confused.

Sorry for this long post, this is my first project and I'm just worried I am reading the plan wrong and don't want to develop a bad habit of continuing to do so. I want to keep building, it is so much fun!!

Thanks everyone ( Ana especially!),


Free Plans Made Possible By Our Sponsors