What you need: wood for cleat (1×3’s), wood for surface (sheet), saw, level, screws, tape measure, drill, wood glue, and pencil.
Optional: nail gun and nails
Step 1. Identify where you want the shelf and find the studs. Your studs will help determine the minimum width of the shelf and where to place your cleats (later step). Mark the studs with a pencil.
Step 2. Measure the width of your shelf. You will want to make the shelf about 1.5 inch wider than the studs to ensure your cleat can attach to the studs. Don’t know what a cleat is? Don’t worry, that is in the next step.
Step 3: Now it is time to cut you cleat. A cleat is the fancy way of saying the shelf interior frame. There are 2 key components to your cleat: the width and the depth. The width of the cleat will attach directly to the wall and runs horizontally. The depth will attach to the width. It is really that simple.
Step 3.1. Measure and cut the 1×3 to the correct width. Remember, don’t plan your shelf for the exact width of your studs. Make the width a little wider for ease of installation later- even if it is just 1 inch. Trust me.
Step 3.2 Measure and cut your next 1×3 to the correct depth. If you are using pre-cut sheets or a top that you don’t want to cut, you will need to measure your depth as D1 + D2= total depth of shelf and cut your 1×3 accordingly. Cut at least 2 pieces for your depth but I advise 3 pieces for a span between just 2 studs and add 2 pieces for every further span between studs. If you shelf is 2 studs wide, 3 pieces for depth. If it is 3 studs wide, 5 depths, etc.
Step 4. Now you will attach your width pieces to your depth pieces at right angles (shown above). Start at the ends and attach your depth moving in at even increments. Make sure not to place a depth piece where you want to attach to a stud. You can use wood glue here in addition to screws. Screws are required with or without wood glue.
Step 5. With your cleat assembled, level your shelf in the desired location. Attach your cleat to the wall by screwing through the cleat into a stud. Repeat while keeping the shelf level. Once you’ve drilled into the studs take step back and take a breath. The hard part is over!
Step 6. Now you can start to assemble your shelf top, bottom, and sides. If you are cutting sheets of wood to fit, you can measure current dimensions. If you’ve create a depth to match already cut wood, you can simply assemble.
Step 7. Screw or nail the top, bottom, and sides repeatedly measuring to make sure you have the correct dimensions. Some people build the covering as one solid piece and slide it over the cleat. That is an option but this method is easier. One issue people often have with this type of project is that they don’t account for the thickness of the wood they will use to cover the cleat. Make sure you measure carefully, and often, to get a good fit.
Step 8. Measure and assemble the front panel. You can secure the face to the cleats and, as always, measure carefully.
Step 9. Stain and finish! This project may seem difficult but truly, the difficult only lies with the measurements. Just be careful to measure often and plan ahead. You can do it!
You can do it. Do it with PRIDE!