DIY Book Ledges-A Tweaked Tutorial

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I'm back to show just how I made the book ledges.

Every since pinning some inspiration pictures like the ones you see below,  I knew I wanted to add book ledges somewhere in the playroom.  One, it's easy for a child to see their books.  And two, I wanted to encourage reading and add more functionality to the space.



As I mentioned yesterday, I found this tutorial by Kristine over at The Painted Hive, and I just tweaked it a bit.  Since the playroom is fairly narrow at less than 10 feet wide, the wall that they ended up on needed slim storage.  I have tried putting a bookcase on it, but it blocked the natural light and the view out of the bay window.

How To Make and Mount Narrow Floating Shelves | The Painted Hive

I started by going to buy wood.  I knew that I wanted my shelves to be a little deeper than the ones in the tutorial, plus mine were going on an open wall, so I had the space for it.  I wanted them deep enough to allow books to lean against the wall, but shallow enough that I could screw through the depth of the wood, and into the wall, thus having floating shelves.   I chose 1x3's for my actual ledge. 

I also needed a thin piece of wood to form the lip of the shelf (as seen in the picture above) and hold the books on the shelf.  I couldn't find trim that matched the dimensions in the tutorial.  So I was searching the shelves and saw a trim called 'base cap molding' next to the baseboard molding.  It was only 1 1/8" in height, which was perfect to create a lip for the shelves, and it came in solid pine.  It had the profile of crown moulding but was flat on the back like 1x2.  And that's when I had an epiphany!  Instead of just going across the face of the shelf, as seen above, I could wrap the trim around all three sides to the wall!  (I'm probably the only one who got excited about that, but hey!)  I nearly skipped my way out the store.

Base Cap Molding

I decided to make my four shelves 42" long each.  So I needed:

2ct 8' 1x3's mine are pine (which are actually 2 1/2 wide),   $7ea x 2 = $14
3ct 8' lengths of the base cap moulding, also solid pine   $7ea x 3 = $21
8ct" 3 3/4" wood screws            $  4
3/16" drill bit to predrill holes     $  3
1/2" countersink bit  (on hand)      $  0

Total Project Cost:  $42

I also had stain and polyurethane on hand from previous projects.  Of course, it could be a little more or less, depending on what you have on hand.  I should also say that the base cap molding comes in 10' lengths, so if I were to repeat this project, I would just buy two of those instead.

Several things to do before starting:

1.) I marked in advance, using a stud finder, the position of my studs so that I could screw directly into them to mount the shelves.  This meant that I didn't need anchors.  But the screws were going thru the 1x3's, plus at least 1/2" of drywall, plus another 1/2" to 3/4" depth into the actual stud.  That's at least 3 1/2", so I needed to countersink the screws to secure the shelves to the studs.

2.) After marking the stud location, I decided how far up the wall I wanted to start the shelves, and also settled on a 15" distance between each shelf.   Then marked a horizontal line, with stud locations noted, to show where to mount each shelf.   Then, to make sure each ledge was evenly spaced from the wall edge, I also made a mark 6" from the wall edge.

3.) I also pre-stained all of my wood and just stained the cut edges as I went along.  I sealed the entire shelf at the end, with Wipe-On Polyurethane.  I used the same stain and poly as I used on the chalkboard project. 

Next I assembled my tools, as seen below, plus a miter saw and a nail gun.

I began by pre-drilling into the stud.  Next, I cut the 1x3 down to 42" using the miter saw.  Using my pre-marked line that was 6" in from the wall edge,  I held the 1x3 ledge up to it, and marked the stud location on it.  Using the stud location, I drilled holes in the 1x3 for the screws, then drilled a countersink hole about 1/2" deep.  After the holes were drilled and countersunk, I held the 1x3 ledge up to the wall, then screwed through it, into the two studs.    

With the basic ledge up on the wall, it was time for the fun part, adding the trim.  This involved cutting the 'base cap molding' the same lengths as each edge of the ledge but cutting the corners at 45 degree angles.  I used a nail gun to mount the trim to the book ledges.  As in the tutorial I linked above, I didn't glue the face trim to the ledge so that I could easily remove it in the future if I needed to.  I couldn't get a good photo, but to me, this created a beautiful profile for the book ledges. 

As I said earlier, I finished the wood using two coats of Wipe-On Polyurethane in Satin, to protect it, and give it a nice sheen.  

It feels good to have this project crossed off the list.  My woodworking skills aren't perfect, but it does the job! 

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