How to Make a Simple Shelf Ledge

If this shelf ledge looks familiar, it’s because it’s made with the wood scraps left over from the super long version on the other side of the bathroom. That half of the bathroom was making this neglected half jealous, so I had to make it its own shelf. (Plus it gives me more room for plants, and a place to store extra toilet paper.)
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws


When I was searching for how to make a shelf ledge, I kept getting results for building a picture ledge. I didn’t want to put pictures on mine, though, I just wanted a shelf. The main difference is that a picture ledge has a front lip, to hold the pictures, and it’s often constructed so that the screw holes would be visible if they weren’t covered with pictures.

Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws
So I adapted those instructions to make this shelf ledge, and I figured I’d share a tutorial for this smaller version. I made the larger one exactly the same way, except with more screws through the back. You could adapt this to pretty much any size, just screw the wood together every 1-2 feet. I was also originally going to add towel hooks on the longer version. But I haven’t found hooks I like, so I haven’t done it yet.

Shelf Ledge

Materials

Wood – I used reclaimed wood, but two lengths of 1×4 would be what I would have used if I were making this with new materials.
Keyhole hangers
Screws – For the shelf itself, 1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ screws, plus screws for hanging it on the wall.

Tools

Drill/screwdriver
Drill bits
Clamps
Pencil
Measuring tape
Stud finder
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws
Optional:
Saw
Forstner drill bit
Wood stain
Wood sealer

Steps

1. I previously cut the two pieces of wood to equal lengths, and sanded, stained and sealed them. The wood I used for the shelf piece has a rounted, decorative front edge, but your wood will most likely have a flat front edge.
2. Decide how you want your finished shelf to look. I want to add towel hooks to mine, and I wanted as much shelf space as possible, so I aligned the shelf edge with the top edge of the backing piece.

Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screwsYou could also align the shelf along the middle:
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws
Or the bottom:
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws
3. Clamp the front piece to the back piece, using a piece of scrap wood to keep from damaging the front of the shelf with the clamp.
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws
4. About an inch from the edge, drill holes that are halfway through the thickness of the shelf. Repeat every foot or two.
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws
5. Screw the boards together.
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws
6. Now it’s time to hang your shelf. Keyhole hangers work really well for this. You’ll need to find studs, drill pilot holes, and add screws for hanging.
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws

7. Measure really carefully where the keyhole hangers need to go, and drill pilot holes. My reclaimed wood had the bonus of having two raised areas on the back, so I was able to use those to help me with the keyhole hangers. I’ll demonstrate on a scrap piece of wood how to deal with it if you’re not so lucky, though.
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws

If you just have normal wood, you’ll probably want to drill a large, shallow hole behind where the keyhole will go. It will allow the shelf to get as close to the wall as possible. A Forstner bit will do the job easily.

Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws

Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws

8. Attach it to the wall. I won’t lie, on this one it took me more than one try to get it this level. But a trick I learned is that screwing your wall screws in more or less can affect whether the shelf is level, so fiddle with those before moving your screws (or keyhole hangers).
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws
Make an easy DIY narrow shelf ledge from two pieces of wood and some screws

2 thoughts on “How to Make a Simple Shelf Ledge

    • Paige, the striped one on the left is from West Elm a couple of years ago (I scooped up a bunch when they were on clearance), and I found the one on the right at a thrift store. Thrift stores is actually where I find most of my plant pots, which I realize isn’t very helpful for finding your own, sorry! If you don’t want to scour secondhand shops, Etsy vintage sellers sometimes have good ones, and so do West Elm and Anthropologie. I love the ones at Leif, too.

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