5 Things to Consider Before Building a DIY Floating Shelf

5 Things to Consider Before Building a DIY Floating Shelf

Ok, look - at NookWoodworking, we totally get the sublime buzz of transforming a blank canvas of a wall into a storage haven with a DIY floating shelf. That thrill? We're all in. Sure, we'd love to take the reins on crafting your floating wood shelf, bringing your vision to life with the finesse of experienced hands. But, hey, we get it. The itch to wield a hammer and forge something with your own two hands? Impossible to some.

So, in the spirit of goodwill and with a dash of transparency. Plus, honestly, a genuine wish not to see your DIY dreams crash down—literally or metaphorically, we’ve pieced together these 5 insights. These are your must-knows when that moment strikes—the moment you catch yourself pondering how to build a floating shelf solo. Let’s dive into making your DIY journey as smooth as the finish on our bespoke shelving.

5. Don't Be Surprised If Your DIY Floating Shelves Cost More Than Custom

An oak shelf with a cord hole displays a box, speaker, and plant.

Somewhat surprisingly, one of the main reasons our clients give us for choosing to work with us vs Googling, "how to make floating shelves" themselves comes down to cost. That's right. Most of the time, making floating shelves yourself will actually cost you more than simply buying them. While your walls are full your wallet is empty.

But how does this happen? Floating shelves are just wood and brackets right? Not exactly...

Imagine this.

You're waiting in line at your hardware store and have a cart full of optimism and lumber. But then you realize, to make your floating shelves, well float, you need a special type of bracket. And that means you need a special type of screw to anchor your wall shelves. And you can't forget the wall stain!

Plus, let's not skate over the tools. If you're not already the proud owner of a workshop that would make Ron Swanson nod in quiet approval, you might need to splash out for some of those pricy power tools as well.

Lumber (20x12): $50
Brackets, Screw, and Drill Bits: $102
Paint Stain and Brush: $25
Woodshop Rental: $500 (priced by rental offering of by month in NYC and assuming it takes you less than a month to make)
Total Cost Of Your Floating Shelf Plans: Roughly $677
Compare that whopping $677 to our Thick Oak or Mahogany Floating Shelves of the same size and that's a price increase of $466.01! If you want the hard-earned satisfaction of building floating shelves for your living room then it's totally worth it. However, if you could utilize that $466 more effectively, like for decorating your floating shelf, it's worth reconsidering.

4. If You Don't Have Woodworking Experience You May Be Left Googling, 'How to make floating shelf?'

Hands push an oak mahogany floating shelf into its secure bracket

We've got to hand it to our woodworkers, they make crafting beautiful floating wood shelves look easy! "It's just a wood beams and a floating shelf idea", you might find yourself thinking, "how hard can it be?"

Oh, it starts innocently enough. You watch one video, maybe two. But soon, you're five tutorials deep, and each one has a slightly different take. "Use dowels," says one. "No, brackets!" argues another. And wait, is that a debate about DIY floating shelves placement ideas? Before you know it, your browser history is a breadcrumb trail of confusion, and you've got 27 tabs open, each one whispering a different carpentry secret.

And let's not forget those "minor" setbacks that no one ever seems to mention. The wood that warps with the subtle grace of a pretzel. The finish that’s more streaky than a toddler's first finger painting. Ah, the joys of learning by doing—or, as it turns out, by redoing.

3. Keep In Mind That Your Walls Might Inform Your Floating Shelves Design Ideas

A front view of a wall-mounted live edge shelf in mahogany. Two square mahogany wood planters sit on top the shelf and hold succulents.

In the world of floating shelves, not all walls are equal. You might start off with big floating shelves ideas, visions of sleek spans of walnut suspending your literary collection or that gallery of potted greens. But, my friends, the plot thickens quicker than a mystery novel if your chosen wall decides to be, well, uncooperative.

You see, as you're penning those ideas for floating shelves, you need to consider the silent player in this game: the type of wall. Is it drywall, plaster, or perhaps brick? Each has its own personality and carrying capacity. Some walls might reject your plans faster than a cat defies your attention, especially if you're thinking of anything with a bit of heft.

If you're not well-versed in how to construct floating shelves, you might not realize that your airy-fairy floating shelf could become a grounded reality pretty fast with the wrong kind of wall. Hollow drywall can offer the structural integrity of a wet paper bag if not properly respected. And let's not even start on plaster—it can crack under pressure like a poorly rehearsed stand-up comedian.

This doesn't mean your grand designs need a reality check, it just means there might be an extra step or two to ensure your walls are both willing and able. Stud finders, proper anchors, or reinforcement might become part of the narrative. So make sure your design ideas and the wall have a heart-to-heart before you move forward.

2. Need Floating Shelves in a Pinch? Don't DIY!

The side view of a long oak floating shelf that displays three amber candles, a decorative wooden tic-tac-toe game, three vintage books, and a vintage camera.

When the ticking clock is your nemesis, and you're scouring through wall shelves ideas and floating shelf décor inspiration for a swift upgrade, think twice before diving into DIY territory. Delving into DIY floating bookshelf ideas or how to make wall shelves might seem like the quick fix you need. However, it is usually a challenging journey filled with time-consuming obstacles, potential equipment costs, and concerns about the final quality. Whether it's a floating shelves lounge room project or shelves for wall ideas you're exploring, achieving that polished look quickly isn't guaranteed. 

1. Remember That Quality Counts, Especially When It Comes to Floating Shelves

Straight on shot of a mahogany shelf with a vinyl record on top.

Let's get real about floating shelves for a sec. Sure, they look sleek and effortlessly chic, like they're defying gravity just to hold up your collection of vintage cameras or that row of succulents you've miraculously kept alive. But here's the thing—behind that cool, casual float, there's a whole lot of science and quality craftsmanship making it all work. And guys, this is where cutting corners just doesn't... well, cut it.

Imagine a shelf that's just hanging on by a thread, ready to do a high-dive off your wall the second you turn your back. Not exactly the sturdy storage solution you were going for, right? That’s because when it comes to floating shelves, what you don't see matters as much as what you do. The internal bracket system, the quality of the wood, the precision of the installation—it all plays into durability and, more importantly, safety.

No one wants to wake up to the sound of their beloved record collection or precious family photos taking a tumble in the middle of the night because the shelf they were perched on wasn't up to snuff. It's not just about looks; it's about making sure your floating shelves act less like an acrobat and more like a steadfast library ladder—reliable, strong, and not going anywhere. So be sure to get quality materials and triple-check the craftsmanship of your work.

 Hesitant to Take the DIY Plunge? NookWoodworking Can Help! 

To those who still yearn for the magic of DIY, we salute you! And while the hidden costs of time, tools, and potential mishaps can tally up a bill that leaves your wallet -and potentially, your sanity- a bit lighter, the accomplishment of building your own floating shelf is surely a feat to be proud of! For everyone else not quite sold of the sweet promises of DIYing your floating shelves, NookWoodworking can help.

Think of us as the remedy to the DIY hangover. We're the sweet spot in the market—attractive, affordable custom floating shelves without the fuss or the premium price tag that can come with bespoke work. Plus, you get the assurance of quality craftsmanship that's often sacrificed in the race against time and budget that DIY projects entail. From your storage space to your dining room, we can craft custom open shelving solutions that leave your wallet full and sanity intact.

Shop Our Custom Floating Shelves

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