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Floating Corbel Wall Shelf

Level of Difficulty: medium
Submitted by:

Red Beard Customs

Cutting out pieces for shelf box.

On a 4ft x 2ft sheet of 1/2in. birch plywood cut the top piece measuring 46in. long x 12in. wide using the milescraft tracksaw guide and track. (See image 1A) Next cut the bottom piece measuring 46in. long x 11 1/4in. wide. Next on a 4ft. x 2ft. sheet of 3/4in. birch plywood cut one piece measuring 45 1/2in long x 2 1/4in wide for the front, two pieces measuring 12in. long x 2 1/4in. wide for the sides and three pieces measuring 1o 1/4in. long x 2 1/4in wide for the inner supports. (See image 1B)

(Note: If you make cuts roughly 1/2in. longer than final measurement, you can then cut off the factory edge to final length leaving you all freshly cut sides. This makes for cleaner assembly.)


Make french cleat for wall mount

Cut a strip off the 3/4 birch plywood measuring 45 1/2in. long x 3in. wide. (See image 2A) Next mark a 45 degree line splitting the strip in half. (See image 2B) On the table saw set the blade to 45 degree and rip the piece in half long ways leaving two matching cleats. One will be mounted to the back of shelf, the other will act as the wall mount. Next cut roughly 1/8in. off each 45 degree edge. (Note: this will prevent sharp mitered cleat edge from breaking off.) Test correct widths for french cleat, with top cleat attached to back the wall cleat should set flush to bottom of shelf. If long, trim cleat to proper widths. (See image 2C for reference.)


Dry assemble and screw box together.

Clamp Top and bottom pieces with front and side pieces in postion creating a three sided box. (See image 3A) Measure and mark five equally spaced spots 3/8in. from front edge on top and bottom, then three equally spaced spots 3/8in. from either side on top and bottom. Predrill and counter sink at all these marks and using 1 1/4in trim head construction screws fasten box together. (See image 3B) Next clamp top cleat to back with 45 degree facing inside and pointing down. Mark 5 equally spaced spots 3/8in. from outside back edge of top piece. Predrill, countersink and fasten together with the  1 1/4in. screws. (See image 3C)


Attach corbels to bottom.

Flip shelf box over and set corbels in place with backs extending 3/4in. past bottom outside edge, aligning backside of corbel with the outside edge of the top cleat. This will allow both self and corbels to set flush with wall when mounted. (See image 4A) Corbels will be placed 1 1/2in. from each side leaving the inside dimension 37in between both corbels. (See image 4B) Trace outline of corbels, remove and mark four equally spaced spots and predrill each mark. (Tip: Use Milescraft Drillblock to ensure a straight predrill.(See 4C) Next unscrew and remove bottom piece. Flip upside down to expose inside predrills. Clamp corbels in place, using traced lines as a template. Using predrill holes as guides predrill into corbels as well. Next fasten corbels to bottom using 2in. cabinet screws. (See image 4D)


Glue and fasten box and corbels together.

Disassemble box pieces and corbels.

Wood glue and then fasten together front, side pieces and top cleat to top. (Note: Screws will act as clamps to align and hold pieces in place). With the three inner supports evenly spaced out wood glue supports in place to the top. (See image 5A) (TIP: Apply strip of glue down center of support and then apply several dabs of CA glue to supports, then spray accelerator to top and set in place. The CA glue will help act as a clump until wood glue fully cures). Clamp corbels in place. Wood glue and screw corbels to bottom piece. Apply wood glue to supports and then glue and screw bottom piece to front and sides. (See image 5B) Add some clamps to ensure inner supports are secured to the bottom.


Sand box to final size and trim bottom wall cleat.

Once glue has cured sand box top, sides and bottom so all seams are flush and it is ready for paint. Recommended sanding through grits 80/150/220. (See image 6A) Next measure distance between corbels, subtract 1/4 inch and cut the bottom wall cleat to that measurement. That will allow some play when hanging shelf. (See image 6B)


Cutting all trim pieces.

The following trim pieces were choosen for this shelf, decide which look you prefer and choose accordingly, as long as the widths add up to the same. Top trim is 1/2in. bead paneling moulding, the middle trim is 2 1/2in. panel moulding, and the bottom is 1in. W x 3/4in. H outside corner moulding. (See image 7A) Rough cut all trim pieces to length. Front pieces 50in. long and sides 15in. long, extra length allows for miters to be cut and adjustments.  (See image 7B) Next cut one end of each trim piece at 45 degrees. Clamp side pieces in place. Place, mark and cut opposite end of front pieces at 45 degrees. (Tip: Initially cut front second miters purposefully 1/4in. long and then slowly back into the exact length to ensure a perfect fit.) (See image 7C) Next with side pieces in place mark and cut  the backs to length at 90 degrees, these with butt up to the wall. Measure and cut a piece of outside corner moulding for bottom of wall cleat. Cut off L part of moulding leaving the bottom piece at 3/4in. in width to attach and cover bottom of wall cleat. (See image 7D)


Sand all trim pieces and paint.

Sand all trim pieces through the grits prior to attaching to box. (Tip: Milescraft Sand plane helps with the sanding process forming around curves and sharp edges.)  (See image 8A) Next clamp all trim pieces in place. Remove one at a time, apply wood glue to back and brad nail in place. (See image 8B) Continue until all trim pieces are attached. (See image 8C) Next attach trim piece to bottom of wall cleat. (See image 8D) Once glue has cured fill nail holes  and top back screws with paintable chalk.


Primer, undercoat, and chalk paint coats.

Touch up sand whenever needed after caulk dries. Wipe down and/or vacuum shelf clean. Next apply coat of primer paint to entire shelf and wall cleat. (See image 9A) After dry apply coat of black paint as an undercoat. (See image 9B) After that dries apply two coats of chalk paint to shelf and wall bracket. (See image 9C) Chosen for this shelf was a 50/50 combination of Rustoleum Chalked Aged Gray and Linen White. (See image 9D) Whichever color is desired can be chosen however.


Distressing and finishing with wax coats.

Once chalk paint is dry distress entire shelf per desired look. Distressing is accomplished by simply sanding in random spots until black undercoat in exposed. Be careful not to sand through into primer coat or bare wood. Recommend using 220 grit when distressing. (See image 10A) (Tip: focus distressing on typical worn places, corners, edges, center places of shelf, etc. See image 10B) After vacuum and wipe down entire shelf. Next apply clear finishing wax in workable sections (see manufacturer’s directions) followed by a coat of brown protective topcoat. (See image 10C) Wipe away all excess leaving dark wax in distressed areas. Contine until whole shelf and wall mount is coated. (See image 10D) Once wax has cured shelf is complete.


To mount shelf simply level and attach wall cleat where desired with mitered side facing up. (See image 10E) (Note: Be certain to secure to at least two studs for enough strength.) Next slide shelf onto wall cleat completing installation. (See image 10F)



  • Titebond 1 Wood Glue
  • CA Glue Medium
  • 1 1/4in. Trim Head Construction Screws
  • 2in. Cabinet Screws
  • 1 1/4in. 18gauge Brad Nails
  • Shop Towels
  • 80/150/220 Grit Sander Paper
  • Paintable Chalk
  • Roller Head


  • (1) Top 46in. x 12in. x 1/2in.
  • (1) Bottom 46in. x 11 1/4in. x 1/2in.
  • (1) Front 45 1/2in. x 2 1/4in. x3/4in.
  • (2) Sides 12 x 2 1/4in. x 3/4in.
  • (3) Supports 10 1/4in. x 2 1/4in x 3/4in.
  • (1) French Cleat 45 1/2in. x 3in. x 3/4in.
  • (1) Front Bead Moulding 50in.
  • (1) Front Panel Moulding 50in.
  • (1) Front Corner Moulding 50in.
  • (2) Sides Bead Moulding 15in.
  • (2) Sides Panel Moulding 15in.
  • (2) Sides Corner Moulding 15in.
  • (1) Bottom Corner Moulding 48in.