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How to make DIY Floating Shelves Solid Wood. No expensive brackets required! (Antlers not included…)

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Intro by Robin

In today’s post, we’re showing you how to make DIY floating shelves solid wood – including the brackets!

We didn’t need to buy expensive extra brackets to hang our custom shelf – we made DIY floating shelf brackets ourselves – with our kids in fact! And it’s more simple to do than you might think.

It’s no secret that Ed loves beer. He loves to make it himself (here’s his whole DIY Beer tutorial series.) And a big part of the design of this room was to celebrate his passion for beer.

For years he’s been collecting growlers from craft breweries – local ones of course, but he’s also started picking them up when we travel.

Until now, he didn’t have a way to truly celebrate his collection.

From the start I knew we needed a shelf to display his growler stash – and what more perfect place than our modern rustic DIY basement wet bar?

rustic diy floating shelves solid wood

And while we were making the shelf, Ed came up with the genius idea to make deer antler ‘brackets’ for underneath! They don’t hold the weight of the shelf – it’s still a floating shelf – they are purely for the purpose of looking rustic and cool.

Plus there’s a bit more: the antlers are a loving nod to Ed’s late father, who spent years roaming their country property collecting discarded antlers. The man loved beer too – so it’s a pretty perfect tribute.

The other unique thing about our floating shelf is that we made it all from wood. We didn’t need to buy expensive metal floating shelf brackets! We simply used a couple of dollars worth of wood dowel instead.

Total cost of this shelf was less than $20!

Keep reading for Ed’s how -to!

Steps by Ed

After Robin came up with the idea for this floating shelf – I got started figuring out how to build it.

Full props to Glen Scott and his DIY Creators channel/site for the awesome how-to video that inspired our project. We knew that someone out there would have ideas about how to do this and he was the guy. If you are looking for someone to follow (other than us, of course), he is a great choice.

DIY Floating Shelf (Solid Wood) Materials:

  • 2″x 6″x 8′ stock for the shelf (we used clear pine, but cedar or other lighter wood would work too)
  • 1/2″ dowel – 2-3′ length
  • wood glue
  • Wood Screws (at least 2-1/2 – 3″ long to secure shelf to the wall)
  • Stain or wood finish of your choice (here’s our DIY Wood Stain how-to)
  • Optional – Deer antlers and 1/2″-3/4″ plumbing copper strapping

Steps: DIY Floating Shelves Solid Wood

Step 1: Cut your dowel supports

Cut 4″ pieces of the dowel – enough for every 12-16 inches of your shelf length.

Our shelf is 6’6″ long, so we ended up using 6 pieces for our supports.

Step 2: Mark your support “bracket” holes and drill them

Mark a line down the centre of the back side of your shelf.

This is the side that will be against the wall, so pick the ugliest face.

Mark where you will drill the support peg holes
Mark a 1/2″ drill bit at about 4-1/8″ deep with tape and drill a straight hole into the marked locations.

If you have a drill press, this is a great use for it – if your holes wobble too much, the pegs will be crooked and the shelf won’t slide on cleanly.

Step 3: Cut back off of the shelf to create mounting bracket

After the holes are drilled, rip 1-1/4″ off the back (hole-side) of the shelf.

This will become your mounting bracket.

Step 4: Insert dowels into mounting bracket

Sand the dowel – specifically the side that will slide into the deeper holes on the shelf.

One end of the dowel can remain unsanded, as it will stay glued in the narrow strip you just cut off above.
how to make DIY floating shelf brackets simple
Check the dowels for fit. Will they slide fairly easily into the deep holes on the shelf?

If not – sand some more.

Will the other end fit into the narrow ‘mounting plate’?

Again, if not, sand it, if it is loose, mark that you will need to glue it.
Line everything up and drive the dowels through the back of the two layers of your shelf.

The first bit should slide in easily, as it has been sanded.

The last end bit may require a mallet or hammer. Add some wood glue to the last half inch before you drive it in.

Step 5: Dry fit shelf together and sand

Leave the shelf and the mounting piece slightly gapped while the glue dries on the back strip dowels – you don’t want to glue it together by accident (that kind of defeats the purpose of this project).

You can sand all of the surfaces that will be finished while you wait for the glue to set up.
If any of the dowels didn’t get level with the back edge, sand whatever is sticking out level, or your shelf won’t mount flush to the wall.

Step 7: Nail any loose dowels in place

A couple of our dowels were still loose in the back mounting strip, so a I angled in some 3/4″ nails to give the glue some help.

Step 8: Apply finish to your shelf

DIY floating shelf bracket how to
Again, test to make sure the overall shelf can slide onto the dowels fairly easily.

It doesn’t have to go on and off dozens of times, but you should be able to line up everything and get it together fairly easily.
Apply stain/ finish and let dry. Here is our favourite DIY Wood Stain recipe.

Step 9: Mount shelf to wall

DIY floating shelf brackets
Hang the mounting strip on the wall – Predrill/countersink the holes in the strip, anchoring to as many studs as you can hit as possible.

If you can’t find studs or your shelf is short, use decent hollow wall anchors.

All of these screws will be hidden when you slide the shelf on, so be thorough, and use the longest screws you have.
diy floating shelves solid wood how to
When your mounting strip is firmly anchored, slide the shelf onto the dowels.
Tadaa! Done. The shelf is mounted at this point. You can drill small holes where you won’t see them and add screws to secure the shelf to the dowels if you feel like it will slip off of them.

Of course, you can stop there, but…

Optional: How to Make Antler Shelf Brackets:

But… we didn’t stop there.

We had some antlers that my dad had found while walking the property (deer shed them every year, if you know where to look).

We decided to make them appear to support the shelves. They truly do nothing – as you will see, the shelves are holding the antlers, not vice versa.

If you have something you want to mount like this, begin by getting some copper plumbing strapping and bending it into a custom mounting hanger.

(This was the perfect rustic industrial hanger for our theme – you could definitely use something different. Leather could be a good look.)
Position your antlers (or whatever thing you want to make look like a bracket) and use your improvised copper strapping to secure it to the underside of your shelf.

Affix it to the wall using the same process.
I used a small screw and just let it drill the hole, as pine is pretty soft.

If you are working with a more difficult material/weirder bracket/more oddball angle, you may want to pre-drill your hole. And now, you’re really done. Put some awesome stuff on your shelf, stand back and admire your craftspersonship.
diy floating shelves solid wood finished

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Thursday 23rd of March 2023

I'm pretty sure you used 1/2 inch dowels as I cannot for the life of me find a 3/4th inch drill bit long enough for this and you can't physically put a 3/4 inch dowel into a drill to sand it.

Robin & Ed Hicken

Saturday 25th of March 2023

Apologies for the typo. We've corrected it now - 1/2" dowels were used.

Heather Taylor

Wednesday 17th of March 2021

That is brilliant!


Wednesday 17th of March 2021

Thanks so much, Heather! :)