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How to Make a Floating Shelf With Pipe Brackets

I'm a home handyman who has built several of these handy floating shelves using pipe brackets.

how-to-make-a-floating-shelf-with-a-pipe-bracket

How We Made This Floating Shelf Using Pipe Brackets

We love using floating shelves as bedside tables, because they take up much less room, are cheaper and, best of all, you can easily sweep or vacuum beneath them.

You'll need to have basic carpentry skills, such as knowing how to use a skill saw, but you can easily make this nice floating table yourself. We made two of these for each side of our bed, and our cost for each shelf was just under $30.

Materials List and Cost

  • Pipe Decor Industrial pipe shelf brackets (set of 4, only 2 used): $27.49
  • Saman wood stain, 12 oz bottle (enough for several shelves): $16.99
  • 2x12 lumber, 8' long: $15

Total Cost: $59.48 for two floating tables, or $29.74 each.

Tools List

  • skill saw
  • speed square
  • level
  • driver and Phillips head bit
  • belt sander with 80 grit sandpaper
  • orbital sander with 180 grit sandpaper
  • disposable foam paintbrush
how-to-make-a-floating-shelf-with-a-pipe-bracket

Step 1: Measure and Cut 2x12 Board

Your first step is to pick out a nice straight 2x12 board that's free of holes, cracks and which is straight and even across its surface. Be sure to reject any that have paint or markings on both sides, since this can be very difficult to sand out.

Pro Tip: Choosing a Straight Board

When choosing a board at your local home improvement store, first remove it from the rack and hold it out in front of you, with one end on the floor. Place your eye next to the side of the board and look down along the side of it. Do this for both the thin and wide edges of the board. If you see any curvature, reject it and try another one.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

The first step is to measure and cut your 2x12 board to the length that you'll want your shelf to be. (Two pipe brackets can support a floating shelf up to about four feet long, but any longer than that and the board may sag over time.) We cut our board so that your finished shelf would be 30 inches long.

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Step 2: Sand and Stain Shelf

After you've cut your board to the right length it's time to sand and stain it. If you like the rounded corner look, as seen the photo below, you can use a belt sander to carefully round the corners and bevel the edge of the board for a safer and smoother look.

After you've rounded the corners and beveled the edge, the next step is to sand the shelf until it's nice and smooth. Using an orbital sander, start with 80 grit and finish up by doing several final passes with 180 grit.

Once you've sanded the board until it's all nice and smooth, wipe it down with a dry cloth to remove any leftover dust leftover before applying the stain. Using a foam or bristle brush apply a coat of stain to your shelf board. Repeat the process if necessary to achieve the level of staining you desire. Allow it to dry for a couple of hours before installing the board on your pipe brackets.

how-to-make-a-floating-shelf-with-a-pipe-bracket

Step 3: Install Pipe Shelf Brackets

The next step is to install the pipe shelf brackets at the desired height. Keep in mind that the shelf will sit almost two inches above the pipe surface.

Start by placing the shelf board on the floor in the spot where you'll want the finished shelf to sit. Next, decide where you want to place the pipe brackets. In our install we chose to place them about eight inches from each end of the board.

Raise the pipe bracket up to the height you want it to be, then mark the holes using a pencil. Follow the shelf bracket manufacturers instructions and use the included screws and anchors to attach the pipe bracket to the wall.

A Helper Will Come in Handy for This Next Step!

After you've attached one pipe shelf bracket to the wall, you'll want to use a level to make sure that the second is exactly level with the first. Have your helper hold the second bracket in the general area where it needs to go, then place a level across the top of the attached bracket while your helper raises or lowers the unattached bracket until it's level.

Once you have the second bracket level, make a mark on the wall by placing your pencil in the holes in the bracket. With the screw locations marked, install the anchors and attach the bracket following the manufacturers instructions.

The finished shelf should fit snugly in the pipe brackets, however if you'd like to attach it permanently you can use four 3/4" copper pipe hanger straps on the underside to secure it.

Once you have both pipe brackets installed you can go ahead and place your shelf on top. Enjoy your new pipe bracket floating shelf!

  • Helpful Tip: A floating shelf made with pipe brackets which are attached using only drywall anchors may not support more than about ten pounds of weight. For a much stronger floating shelf, try to locate studs in the wall and attach your brackets in these areas. If your screws are hard to turn, then you're in the right place.
  • Cautionary Note: Be especially careful of drilling holes or driving screws into areas where there may be plumbing or electrical wires just behind the drywall. Be careful not to drill too deep!
  • Tips for Finding Studs in the Wall: You can use an electronic stud finder, or the low-tech method of tapping with your hand or a blunt object across the wall and noticing when the sound changes. A deeper sound will indicate that a stud is behind that area of drywall. Most homes have studs set at either 16 or 24 inches on center.
We did this by ourselves, but a helper would come in handy when leveling the second shelf bracket.

We did this by ourselves, but a helper would come in handy when leveling the second shelf bracket.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Nolen Hart

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