DIY Floating Wood Shelf with Dowels

In this article: These diy floating wall shelves with dowels are a beautiful and practical solution for both decor and storage on a wall. Make your own following this step-by-step tutorial.

DIY Floating Shelf

How to Make DIY Floating Shelves with a Board and Dowels

A few months ago, we turned one of our townhouse bedrooms into my husband’s office.

During the (super fast) renovation, we found ourselves staring at a big, blank wall wondering what to do with it.

Empty small room with small window before hanging floating shelves.
DIY floating shelves are a great way to add storage in a small space.

The Inspiration

As with any decorating dilemma I’m faced with, I headed to Pinterest and created an “Office” board to pin my favorite ideas to.  This picture became our inspiration for long floating wall shelves:

Small room with hanging floating shelves above a desk.
The inspiration for these DIY floating shelves was this picture I found on Pinterest.


We loved how the shelves expanded almost the entire length of the wall, making the space appear wider. We also loved how they were floating – giving it a bit of a sleek and modern look.

The challenges

As we contemplated the long floating shelf option, we came up with 3 challenges to the idea:

  1. Cost – We needed it to be budget friendly.
  2. Time -We were looking for quick and easy.
  3. Lack of power tools/ workshop area – Although we do have some basic power tools, we no longer have access to a workshop with a planer and table saw. We needed to think about what can be done with the assistance of local lumber supply stores.

The plan

As my husband researched many “How to Make Floating Shelves” articles, he found one that was particularly appealing to him. As opposed to the traditional method of making an inner frame with an outer wood “box”, this method just required a board and dowels.

He thought it would be much simpler and quicker – and it turned out to work perfectly in our situation and space.

Supplies for floating wall shelves

(The following supply list is for 2- 10 foot long floating shelves.)

  • 2-  2×8-10 foot long  boards (Which is really 1- 1/2 inches thick by 7-1/4 inches deep) (Be careful where you buy them and what kind of wood they are made from. One place we priced out was $75 a board! The ones we purchased were $15 each.)
  • 6 feet of 1/2 inch doweling
  • wood glue
  • drill
  • 1/2 inch drill bit
  • sandpaper
  • paint color of choice

Steps to Making Floating Shelves with a Board and Dowels

Have the lumber store rip each board at 1 1/2 inches.

Man cutting boards for DIY floating shelves.
If you don’t have the proper tools, ask your local hardware store if they can help you cut the boards for these DIY floating shelves with dowels.

Make sure you take bungy cord to tie down your car trunk as you transport them home!

Trunk of car with boards hanging out the back for DIY floating shelves.
Think ahead about how you are going to transport the materials for this DIY floating shelves project!

Clamp the ripped portion of the board to the larger portion of the board so they appear as one. Trim off each end so that they will be the exact length you need.

Saw cutting the ends of a board for floating shelves.
Trim the ends of the boards so they are the exact length before you try to hang these DIY floating shelves.

Cut the dowels into 4 inch lengths. We ended up with 18 in total.

Dowels lined up and ready to be used for this DIY floating shelf with dowels.
Cut the dowels all the same length.

Attach each dowel piece into the end of your drill. Then, using a sanding sponge, squeeze tightly against each dowel and turn on the drill. As the dowel turns, it will be sanded down slightly. Do this for each dowel.

A dowel attached to the end of a drill with a sanding sponge squeezed around it with a man's hand.
A drill can help make quick work out of sanding the dowels!

Mark off your drill bit at 4 inches, so you know exactly how far to drill down. Drill slightly deeper than the actual dowel length.

Marking the drill bit with tape will indicate the exact location of how far you need to drill down for this DIY floating shelf with dowels project.

Tightly clamp the board with the ripped portion together so they are flush on each end.  Drill holes for the dowels starting at each end and space out evenly across the length of the board.

A drill drilling into the DIY floating shelf to make room for the dowel that will be inserted into it.

Unclamp the pieces of board. Glue the dowel into the thin board by putting glue on the end of the thickest part of the dowel and tap it into the hole until it’s flush.

how to make a diy floating shelves - Gluing in the dowel pieces with wood glue and wiping off the excess glue.

Let glue dry well.

diy floating wall shelves made with a board and dowels
This picture shows how these DIY floating shelves with dowels will fit together on the walls.

How to hang the floating wall shelves

Using a stud finder, mark where the studs are on your wall. Drill pilot holes in the narrow piece of the board  to match those marks.

pilot holes drilled in a floating shelf
Step #1 of hanging floating shelves with dowels: Find studs and attach the narrow wood piece with dowels to the wall, ensuring it is level.

Screw the backing boards with dowels onto the wall using 3 inch wood screws.

how to hang a long floating shelf
Measure ahead of time so you know the distance you want between your hanging floating shelves.

Once the narrow strips are securely fastened to the wall, slide the shelf on to the dowels, lining up all the holes. Use a rubber mallet to tap it onto the dowels if it needs some convincing (and it will!).

(This grainy picture is a screenshot of an Instagram story we did live time. It’s taken from the underside of the shelf.)

We painted the floating shelves the same color as the walls (Simply White by Benjamin Moore) in a semi-gloss sheen.

floating shelves in a farmhouse office
DIY floating shelves can be painted the same color as the wall to blend in, or be painted or stained in a contrasting color.

They make a perfect addition to my husband’s office space. Not only does it provide practical storage for his books, it is a great place for art and sentimental items as well.

diy floating shelves in a modern farmhouse office space
These hanging DIY floating shelves make a great place for storage and decor.

For other farmhouse style shelves, you may want to refer to these posts:

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  1. I love these shelves, Rita! You and your hubby did an amazing job! Perfectly practical and affordable!

  2. Any chance you know how much weight these can hold? I’m assuming they’re pretty sturdy, but I wonder how they hold up to the typical “framed” alternative. These look great and I have a feeling they’ll be populating a lot of space in my office. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I have the type of floating shelf you refer to that is the inner frame and outer box type that were handmade and gifted to me. The inner frame is allowing the box shelf to tip forward. Any ideas on how to hang the “Box shelf” in a manner other than the inner frame? Thank you!!

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