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.


Victoria (not verified)

Thu, 10/28/2010 - 14:46

I just built these shelves and payed about $20 for super fine pine (not sure that's what it's called but it was that or some fairly rough boards and since i was in a hurry that's what i got) plus the spray paint and wall anchors. I substituted 1x3s for the 1x4s because my sister's dining room is narrow and i assembled them just a bit narrower but we clamped all 3 8' boards together and with two cuts we had everything cut down to 4' pieces and assembled both shelves in about 5 minutes, now we're just hoping for it to be warm enough to spray paint tomorrow. Part of the reason they came together so quickly is that we used my husband's super cool finishing nail gun (it has a fuel cell instead of needing an air compressor, very very cool) and shot enough nails in for it to be secure but no predrilling needed! Thanks so much Ana, as soon as they're painted and up i'll post pictures of them in my sister's dining room. This was the perfect $20 solution for her super small dining room!

Heidi (not verified)

Wed, 11/24/2010 - 07:53

I just did these for my dining room and I LOVE them! so easy to do! They look like I bought them from a store and because I made them, I was able to get exactly the stain to match the room! thanks so much for sharing these! Can't wait to try more projects!!

Stephanie (not verified)

Wed, 12/08/2010 - 16:29

Just built two 8 foot shelves for the living room. LOVE them. Gave the room some interest on a long wall without large artwork. The hardest part (as always) is finding the studs. I drilled into the studs with 3" wood screws at two foot intervals. Make sure your wood is not bowed when purchasing - ours is and it hung fine but is not snug against the wall in the middle - you can't tell by looking though! Thanks Ana, these are lovely and easy and I will be making more!


Larissa (not verified)

Thu, 12/23/2010 - 09:25

Ana, I just found you and dare I say love at first sight? I LOVE to build things but have never used a plan. Most things look like I don't use a plan. I CANNOT wait to get started. All I can say at this time is HUGE Thank You for your time and effort to share all of this wonderful information with the world! You are a blessing I am certain I will cherish for as long as all the wonderful furniture I can now make for my home will last! Mahalo Ana

Crystal (not verified)

Wed, 12/29/2010 - 18:05

Does anyone have pics of the ledges stained? I'm debating on stain or black paint. My hubby just built 3 8 footers for me today. I can't wait to get them up!

Chelle (not verified)

Sun, 01/02/2011 - 10:43

I think I am going to run these along an entire wall of my daughter's room to display her pretty things and framed photos. I'd been wanting to put crown moulding up in her room but I'm thinking edging out the room with these shelves about 8" down from the ceiling could be just as good.