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.


Silky (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 21:24

Just last week I mounted similar ledges that I bought at IKEA. They aren't as pricey as the PB ledges but you could still save a bit when building your own.
I combined them with a clip art rail and it's the perfect combination.
I still need to take pics.

jojabis (not verified)

Wed, 10/06/2010 - 21:55

okay so at our place of business we have about 30 brag photos of our work but the only place I could put them was in the back and when we want to show them off we have to get them down. stupid $1 frames only have stands so I can't hang them on the wall. Just today I was trying to figure out a shallow shelf to put along the narrow hall that is our lobby. This is perfect thank you so very much.

Jan (not verified)

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 02:09

Hi Lisa,
There's a "donate" button on the right side on the website. ;-)
I agree with everything you said.

maryanne (not verified)

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 02:57

You can donate through Paypal on her site. Look on the righthand side of the page (scroll up from here) and you'll see a link where you can make a donation. I've done it - it's easy!

maryanne (not verified)

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 03:01

I think this may be your best plan yet. It is sooo simple, no cutting required, and can be used in so many different ways: frames, narrow figurines, children's artwork or A+ schoolwork, books, magazines. This can be used as an alternative to the bunk bed shelf. You can hang it in the dining room and display plates. Since it's screwed into studs, it's super strong... how about adding cup hooks to the bottom and hang coffee cups or something from the bottom? Bravo!

darbynwoods (not verified)

Thu, 10/07/2010 - 03:44

ana nice work. simple and easy.

this is a great project for the popular and pine that you can find at hd. I would also prime and paint the wood before assemblying the shelves. this is much easier to get into the corners and just do some touchup.

if you plan to make a few you may want to look into a taper drill bit for the holes on the front. then you could put in a plug and sand it off and not see the screws.

i would only add to predrill holes on the shelve for the screws to go into the wall . This is after finding and laying out the studs.