Leaning Wall Shelf

Submitted by Ana White on Sun, 07/11/2010 - 18:26
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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.


Guest (not verified)

Tue, 11/29/2011 - 19:14

every time I try to open the pdf it just comes up as jibberish! we really want to make this soon and the instructions would be nice :) so any help would be appreciated!

Sarah Kirchner (not verified)

Thu, 12/15/2011 - 21:10

Give the PDF another try... I was having the same problem and tweeted Ana about it last night, and she got it fixed right away! Thanks Ana!

mjgreenwood (not verified)

Sun, 03/18/2012 - 18:50

Built one standard from the plans, great plans thanks!!!!

Built the desk version getting rid of the bottom three shelves and then using the bottom shelf dimensions for the desk at around 31" for the height.
I added a cross brace to the desk/shelf support due the amount of leverage a person is going to put on it. The cross brace also hides the power strip and laptop cables.

I also secured the desk to the frame with screws from the inside for the same reason.

With the desk configuration I found that I needed a stronger attachment to the wall, again because of elbow leverage. So just screwed it through the second shelf with a painted fender washer and screw. We love it.


Sun, 04/15/2012 - 16:12

I just finished building two of these shelves with the help of my husband and father-in-law. We suggest making the shelf base (approximately) 1/16" shorter than the plan calls for. We had to do a ton of sanding to get the shelves to fit without being too snug.

We also bought six 8' 1x4 boards per the plan and had to go out and purchase another in order to finish the trim.

Thanks for the plans, Ana! We saved so much money vs. buying them in the store! We couldn't be happier and can't wait to start our next project!


Keonsday (not verified)

Fri, 07/20/2012 - 12:18

I honestly like the structure of the shelves; however, I have a question regarding the trim of each shelf. Is it possible to remove the trims without jeopardizing the integrity of the structure. I think that it looks better without the trim.


Tue, 10/09/2012 - 12:52

I'm almost done building it, but as others already mentioned, I'm one 1x4 board short. the shopping list should call for 7 of the 8' 1x4 boards.
other than that a great plan and I'm excited to finish it!

Frankh (not verified)

Sun, 12/09/2012 - 09:24

I finished this yesterday. Overall whereas this wasn't a super difficult project, the "Beginner" level is misleading. With the angles, this is AT LEAST an intermediate level project. You can't just throw a square on the side supports and screw in your shelves. This week I also built a "Fancy hall tree," it was easier to build than this (Though it took longer) and it is considered "advanced."

Michelle MO (not verified)

Wed, 12/26/2012 - 17:32

I am thinking of putting this shelf in an awkward spot in my kitchen. It would work best if I could make the deepest shelf 14 1/4 (vs the 17 1/2 shown). Would I be able to make the bottom TWO shelves that depth and the legs are just attaching farther toward the front of the last shelf, or would the angle of the legs prohibit this? Aside from not being sure if this change would take away from the beauty of the piece, I want o make sure the structure would even work! Thanks -this is to be my first Ana White build (with at least 4more on my wish list) -appreciate any help, I can't wait to gt started!

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