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

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
Help Improve This Plan

We apologize if there was an error in this plan. Please help us out and report any errors here.


Angie (not verified)

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 04:22

These would be perfect to display my ever growing collection of pint glasses. I was looking for a low profile shelf but a ledge to keep them in place. I think I'll try to make a few this weekend. Keep up the great work!

SandyPants (not verified)

Tue, 01/18/2011 - 06:20

I just made this over the weekend! So easy and it looks so good! Thanks for the great idea. I love this website!

Laura (not verified)

Tue, 01/18/2011 - 17:21

Just finished these and love them! We wanted a 6 ft length to fit on our wall, so bought a 12 ft long board and cut it in half. I couldn't believe the price a certain barn store is asking for $10 worth of wood! Used English Chestnut stain and they look great.

love2create (not verified)

Sat, 01/22/2011 - 10:28

Ana, I love these shelves. I have needed an idea for my living wall room near my fireplace and I love this. How far apart did you space your shelves when you hung them up?

Holly (not verified)

Tue, 02/08/2011 - 11:17

I just built these a couple days ago. It was super easy and I have never built or stained anything in my life. Thank you so much Ana for giving me a hobby. With two kids and a husband deploying soon, I need to have something to release some stress. I can't wait to get started on my next project. Your site is awesome!!


Kristin (not verified)

Thu, 02/10/2011 - 17:45

If I wanted to make the ledges deeper to place model airplanes and cars for my son's room, what would I need to do differently? Thank you!

mzloca (not verified)

Fri, 02/11/2011 - 16:20

I just finished mine! I did make a few and in different lengths. I will post photos asap. This was my very FIRST DIY wood project that I made from start to finish all on my own! I cannot express how proud I am. They were so fun to do and I think I found the only thing on earth that frees my mind completely....wodd projects! This site is outstanding, very inspiring and a real wealth of resources.