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

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

 

 

Dimensions
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

Preparation

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"

Tools
Tape Measure
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Drill
Circular Saw
Level

Instructions

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
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Comments

Shannon King (not verified)

Sat, 10/16/2010 - 13:10

Don't forget to "break" the edges by sanding to make them less fragile. I just finished 3 shelves in less than 35 min! And all from scraps from my farm house bed! Thanks for the in-between measurements. There is an awesome sanding block at the Lowe's in Canada, that you can change the sandpaper, but the spongy ones in the states work well too.

Christine (not verified)

Mon, 10/18/2010 - 03:33

My father and I made four shelves yesterday with help from my 8 and 11 year old sons. Ours are 5'2" to fit exactly between two walls. We spent a lot of time measuring (twice) and cutting the wood by hand with a mitre box. We also spent extra time counter sinking the screws. It took us about four hours to build four shelves. Now I need to fill in the holes where we nailed the front and then prime and paint. I spent extra to get good quality wood - very straight, smooth and no knots. The wood, primer, and paint cost around 80 dollars. We never could have gotten the custom fit from a catalog. I think I spent about a quarter of the price and I have some great pictures of my sons spending time with their grandfather. We also have enough wood left over to make 2 shelves about 1'8" long. I'm so glad I found this website.

Krista @ The D… (not verified)

Wed, 10/20/2010 - 22:00

Carol. I was wondering the same thing.

I was going to buy some floating shelves for my baby's room but now I'm thinking I'm going to do this instead! Not only will I be able to put up some picture frames, but can you imagine an entire gallery of children books?!? It will look so cool....now I have to get the hubbs to show me about to work his power tools.

i_am_joey (not verified)

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 05:19

@krista
@carol

ana mentioned to screw the back 1 x 4 to the wall with screws. for strength, locate the studs.

Natalie (not verified)

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 18:09

I have three young kids who love books. We get over 100 books every three weeks when we hit the library. Needless to say, book storage has always been a bit of an issue. I had all sorts of ideas for storage, and decided on something almost exactly like this. Now each kid has a shelf like this running the length of their bed and there are (almost) no more books on the floor :)

Janea (not verified)

Wed, 10/27/2010 - 06:21

Love this. I can't wait to see the finished product. Will you paint the frames and shelves all the same color?