Budget Friendly Faux White Oak Floating Shelves

White oak, clean sleek lines, and modern farmhouse are two design components that are trending HOT right now, but not in the sense that they are fads, the design is popular because it showcases minimalism and is timeless.

Here you will find a step by step tutorial on how to build your very own living room floating shelves and save thousands of dollars with a simple DIY project that even beginners could conquer.

For tutorials on the other projects in this space: How to brick an accent wall/fireplace click here. How to turn Ikea kitchen cabinets into a builtin bench with drawers here.

Materials: (this list is for x4, 86″ floating shelves. Please adjust quantities to meet your needs)

  • x2 4×8′ pieces of 1/2 inch birch plywood cut to 9.5″ strips (this goes on top & bottom of the shelf)
  • x6 2×3” stud
  • x5 1×3” select pine
  • 2 1/2” kreg pocket screws
  • Plastic wood drydex filler
  • Putty Knife
  • 120 grit sanding block/paper
  • 220 grit sanding block/paper
  • 3” construction screws
  • Brad nails 18 gage 1”
  • Special Walnut Stain
  • Pre-Wood Conditioner
  • White Wash Stain
  • Polyurethane Matte

Tools:

  • Brad Nailer 18 guage
  • Miter Saw
  • Kreg Jig
  • Kreg Jig Clamp

Click on the images below for direct links to products, and by purchasing through these links I will make a small commission through affiliate marketing.

TOTAL COST FOR 4 FLOATING SHELVES 85″ x 10″ = $197, that’s $49.25 per shelf!
Bid for floating shelves “pre-made”, but still needed the brackets and shelf installed: $2,600
Professional bid for materials & labor = $6,200

Assembly of the Support Bracket:

Step 1: Measure the height of your shelves.

Since mine are above my living room built in bench I want enough clearance so no one would hit their head when they sit/stand, but I also want them so high as it through the scale of my room off. My floating shelves are 64.25″ and 80.25 measuring from the floor to the BOTTOM of the shelf. Also to note, I have 9′ walls, and a vaulted ceiling). TIP: Use a piece of painters tape to help you map out your shelves.


2. Find your studs and mark them on your 2×3″ stud


3. Cut down the 2×3″ to the length of your floating shelf, mine are 85″.


4. Take the Kreg Jig drill bit and screw holes that correspond with your studs.

My hole is 1/3 of the way into the stud. This allows a screw to be recessed, and also allows for the screw to not have to travel the full distance through the 2×3″. Remember you have to go through the 2×3, sheetrock, and into the wall stud, so you want to be sure that you have enough length on the screw. By doing so the screw can securely sink into the wall stud to make your shelf stable and study!


Step 4: Cut your brace pieces of 2×3″ to 7 inches (this is for 10″ depth floating shelves).

You can cut as many as you feel necessary. I used 8 per shelf for a total off 32 pieces of 2×3″ that were all 7″ in length.
TIP: Set up a “jig” on your miter saw by using a scrap piece of wood and a clamp as your “stopper” and just bud your wood to the stopper and cut. This saves a lot of time when you are making a lot of the same length cut.


Step 5: Create 2 pocket holes in each of the 7″ brace pieces using a Kreg jig.

Since this is a 2×3″ your settings should be at 1.5″ on the Kreg jig and on your drill bit. (see the Kreg Instructions for more details or check out my instagram highlight bubble “Kreg jig” for more details on this)


Step 5: Attach the brace pieces to the long 2×3″ using 2.5″ Kreg screws.

Be sure to clamp the pieces as you attach them to make sure they line up and sit flush.


Step 6: Attach the support piece to your wall studs using a level and 3″ construction screws.


Step 7: Attach the side pieces

Attach the side 7″ pieces into your stud on your side wall, if you don’t have a stud use a drywall anchor and construction screw. Attaching the side 7″ pieces are important otherwise the shelf will lean.

Assembly of the Shelf:

1. Cut the 9.5″ strips to the length of the shelf. Mine are 85″


2. Cut the 1×3″ select pine to the same length. If you have one end that is exposed cut a 45 degree mitered angle on one end and cut another small piece of 1×3″ to the side length.


3. Apply Wood glue to the edge of the birch plywood/select pine.


4. Hold the 1×3″ and one piece fo the birch plywood flush together and attach with 1″ 18 gauge brad nails.


5. Apply wood glue to a 2nd piece of birch plywood and attach to the 1×3″ using brad nails.


6. If needed, attach the side piece.


You’ve now created a hollow shelf that will slide over your support bracket. Recruit a friend to help you put the shelf into place.


7. Attach the hollow shelf to the support bracket with 1″ brad nails on the bottom and top of the shelf.

Prep and Stain to Turn Cheap Pine into Gorgeous White Oak

The magic stain concoction to turn pine into white oak is easy peasy lemon squeezy! But seriously! I mean look at how gorgeous white oak is….

Now does my pine have a little bit more grain than white oak up close, yes. Could you use maple, or poplar instead? Yes. Do I think the stain will come out similar on those woods, probably pretty close. But the very dull, subtle color, very little yellow tone from the wood is seriously… money!

So here’s how I did it……..

Prep the wood for stain

Fill all of the nail holes & seams with plastic wood

Sand down the wood filler using 120 grit sand paper or sanding block

Then, sand the entire floating shelf with 220 grit to give an even surface for staining.

Clean off & wipe down/vacuum up and dust

Wipe down the shelf with a tack cloth just prior to staining. A tack cloth is a super sticky piece of cheesecloth that helps collect any remaining dust to give a super smooth and professional finish

Stain to give a White Oak look to Pine & Birch wood.

Apply pre-stain wood conditioner with a clean cloth while wearing gloves. Follow the instructions. It states to let soak in for 30 minutes prior to staining. Applying this wood conditioner will give you an even stain and prevent blotchiness.

Next, Apply White wash stain to the shelf in a thin coat using a clean rag. Let sit for 2-3 minutes then wipe off the excess. *I used the what wash stain, not just thinned paint. I am not sure if it will give the same effect to use a thinned latex.

You don’t have to wait for this to dry. Once the entire shelf is covered with the white wash apply 1 coat of special walnut stain.

Once dry apply 2 coats of polyurethane in matte, and you are done!

THE BEFORE

Sit back and admire your gorgeous shelves!

I hope you enjoy your faux white oak sleek floating shelves as much as I love mine. Be sure to follow along for more projects on instagram @honeybuilthome and on Pinterest


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