Canadian Woodworking

Easy Shelf

Author: Michael Kampen
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: October November 2006

This shelf, once installed, shows no visible signs of support, which gives it a clean, modern look.


However, don’t be fooled by this shelf’s delicate appearance. When slipped over the two hidden arms, which are fastened to studs, this shelf is capable of supporting up to 50lbs.

There are two approaches to this project; which one you choose will depend on your tools and preferences. The shelf must be at least 1 ⅛” thick in order to conceal the shelf supports. The shelf’s depth can be up to 8″ deep, and to properly support the weight, the shelf must be a minimum of 18″ long so that it spans two studs (assuming the studs are spaced 16″ apart). You can increase the load bearing capacity of the shelf by attaching extra shelf supports on additional studs for longer shelves. If you don’t have lumber wide enough to make this shelf from a single piece, then it can be glued up from narrower stock. By laminating your stock for the shelf, you can create the slots for the supports using a pair of shallow stopped dados that come together to create the slot. Detailed instructions come with the hardware.


A much more practical approach is to find some stock that is thick enough to allow you to make it from one piece. Begin by jointing your board so it is flat on one face. Then use a thickness planer to bring it to the final thickness, in this case, 1¼”. Use the jointer to square up one edge and then rip the board to its final width. Follow the instructions that come with the hardware (i.e. locating the mounting plates and marking the holes on the shelf). Drill the holes on the marks. It is important that they are parallel to the top surface so this is best done on a drill press. If your shelf is less than six inches deep you will have to use a hack saw to cut off a small portion of each support arm.

To lighten the appearance of the shelf, use the jointer or table saw to bevel the front edge; bevel the ends of the board at the same angle.

Sand the shelf though to 150 grit and give it a coat of Watco Natural Oil. The shelf doesn’t require a tough protective finish, so a coat of wax is more than sufficient to protect the surface, and make dusting a breeze.

Hardware kit available at

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