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

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


Tsu Dho Nimh (not verified)

Tue, 10/12/2010 - 02:32

Malissa - I just measured my wine bottle and they are less than 4 inches across the bottom. You should be able to stand them up on the ledges. Test with some scraps before you build.

PB shows their ledges over a bar holding liquor.

Just be absolutely sure you have the back strip screwed into the studs with 3-inch wood screws, and fasten the shelf part to the back part with a screw every 4 to 6 inches.

Lea (not verified)

Wed, 10/13/2010 - 03:30

Ten dollar ledges? Not hardly. More like five dollar ledges. That's how much I had to invest yesterday at Orange to pick up the wood I needed to build one of these. Of course, I already have the screws, nails, glue, primer, and paint, so those are all purchases I didn't have to make. Today I'll be sanding and priming and painting, and tomorrow I'll install this ledge to display my kids artwork. I can't wait to see the pride on their faces when they see their work shown so prominently, and I'm really looking forward to clearing the front of the fridge.

Jay (not verified)

Wed, 10/13/2010 - 07:22

You should be able to make wider shelves to hold wine bottles like in the link you posted. I would make sure to use screws to contect the 2 parts of the shelves - much stronger than nails. Also if you put sides on the shelves it should help hold the shelf together.

When you attach to the wall make sure you go into studs in the wall or use heavy duty anchors.

sarahhiggs (not verified)

Wed, 10/13/2010 - 16:08

oh the joys of living in the north... we are in northern BC and it's going to snow any day..I feel your pain Ana!

Shelly (not verified)

Wed, 10/13/2010 - 18:10

I was just thinking today that these, made from reclaimed pallets, would solve my lack of storage issue in the kitchen. In 2 years we plan to completely redo the kitchen (you'll have the cabinet plans up by then, right) but for now I am in desperate need of space in my TINY kitchen(less than 5ft of counter, 2 lower cabinets, 2 half deep lower cabinets, 2 half deep/half width drawers), 2 upper cabinets, 1 over fridge/over stove cabinet). I have 25 sq foot of floor space. Anyhow, there are many narrow wall spaces between windows, doorways, etc that 18-29" shelves will fit. I am thinking canned goods, cereal, pasta, spices. I am so desperate for space. If I can get the food on the walls, I can get the pots and pans out of the coat closet.

Meg (not verified)

Thu, 10/14/2010 - 15:05

I built mine for $20 AND I had to buy a new bottle of wood glue!
Thanks Ana. I love these! It is just what I needed to fill a wall in my basement. My hubs was happy two- less holes in the wall than the picture collage I had planned!!!
I will post pics once I paint and hang them!

Shannon King (not verified)

Fri, 10/15/2010 - 18:41

How high did you hang the first shelf? And how many inches between shelves? I am almost ready to stain my New bed, thanks for all you do.

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