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

Submitted by Ana White on Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:21
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

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


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"

Tape Measure
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw


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


Lisa Forrette (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 18:14

Ana, you are my hero! This is just beautiful and oh so simple.

Until I found your site, I was afraid I'd never be able to afford decorating/furnishing my home it the way I dreamed it could be. No I have hope! Keep up the great work and thanks, thanks, thanks!

Leslie (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 18:57

Wow! Wow! Did I say WOW? THAT has to be the easiest build on record. Even with three cut fingers (had a run in with a table saw - the saw won!), I think I could still manage this. Yup! Looks like I need to head to my favorite lumber yard tomorrow. Thanks!

Lisa (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 18:59

Dear Ana, I have been following your blog for months now and never left a comment. However....EVERY plan you post is amazing...inspiring and creative! And I could leave a "wow" comment for each one. I can't express how much I look fwd. to opening your blog every day....and how grateful I am for your generosity in sharing....and encouraging!! I Thank you thank you...!

p.s. Do you have a P.O. box to send donations??

sarahhiggs (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 19:02

what did you do to finish the shelves?? they look awesome!

love this entire look.. I have been wanting to do something like this in my office.
thanks so much!

Faith (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 19:02

Love.Love.Love these! I know what I'm going to do with my big, empty, boring family room wall! I can mix framed pics with my toddlers art they love to have on display! LOVE THESE! Thanks so much!

Kelli (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 19:56

Would these work using a 1x2 instead of a 1x4 for the "bottom" of the shelf? I need something for my hallway and I'm not sure if by using 1x4's it would stick out too far. I love them though! So easy and look great!

Ana White (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 21:18

Hi Kelli, it would "work" but the problem with going narrow is your books might fall forward (or picture frames). I did a demo with a 1x3 as the bottom, and it was too narrow for taller items. It would definitely work for shorter items. The 1x4 was much better though for layering photos frames and holding other collectibles.

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