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.


Tony (not verified)

Mon, 01/21/2013 - 18:21

I'm still building my first Ana project. These shelves! Plans are great and easy to follow. I bought the Kreg jig for this project (and because its a tool I did not own LoL) and I like how the PH work. The only thing I think you left off that I added was the font edge of the shelves need some trim to hide the plywood layered look. I bought some 3/4 trim at my local big box store and glued them tot he front edges of all shelves! Very pleased so far!


Thu, 11/06/2014 - 09:18

We have finally built our Leaning Shelf, now it is just on to finishing it!!! It turned out great with the instructions you have provided!! Thank you so much. I do agree w/ Tony, I think we might add a front edge as well. Not sure how great it would look stained w/ just the plywood front. 




Thu, 10/08/2015 - 07:54

Hi Ana,

    Do I really need the Heavy Duty Picture hanging kits for this wall shelf ? I'm making it for my basement and since the walls are painted cement walls, there's no possibility of drilling into the walls. 

I wasn't sure if the picture hanging kits were even necessary if it just leans against the wall.




Ana White Admin

Thu, 10/08/2015 - 11:51

We do need to recommend using the proper hardware for safety purposes. You will find that these lean fine on their own too. 

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