Inexpensive DIY Shelf Brackets

Learn how to create your own DIY shelf brackets from wood with this simple DIY tutorial.


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girls room book shelves on the wall above a desk

Did you guys know that you can craft your own wood shelf brackets? You can! Pretty easily, in fact.

You can always grab some shelf brackets at hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes, but let’s be honest, they can be kind of ugly sometimes.  And it’s cheaper to make your own with a few simple materials and tools. Use up that scrap wood in the garage!  

how to make your own DIY shelf brackets from scrap wood - full tutorial in post!

I’m building open shelving for Hannah’s room and wanted some craftsman-style wood brackets to go with it. Are they perfect? Nope.  But they add so much character to the room and they do exactly what they are supposed to – hold up her shelves!

So, let’s get started with this simple project.  

Things You’ll Need

Miter Saw that can cut angles

Drill and screwdriver drill bit

Brad Nailer 

1x2x8 furring strip- but you can use any smaller width lumber for this project – use up those pieces of scrap wood you have (exact wood cut dimensions in tutorial below)

Wood Glue (Elmer’s Glue is typically fine or use Gorilla Epoxy glue if a stronger joint is needed) Right Angle Clamp

Wood Stain – I used Early American

Polyurethane

Orbital Sander 

Stud Finder, Level and Wood Screws (for hanging)

How to Make DIY Shelf Brackets with Wood

DIY Shelf Brackets made from wood - full tutorial in post

Step by Step Tutorial for making shelf brackets with wood.

Total time: 1 day

  1. Cut 1×2 Wood to Size

    how to make your own shelf brackets from scrap wood - full tutorial in post!

    Two things we need to do before we cut out wood to size.  First, Determine how many shelf brackets you need.  Second, determine the width of your shelf.  You will want the top piece of the shelf bracket to fit the width of the shelf or smaller!  You don’t want it extending out beyond the shelf because it will look weird.  I’m using 1×8 boards for my shelves, so here are the dimensions I cut for each bracket. One piece of wood cut to 7 inches. The second piece of wood was cut to 5.5 inches. Finally, the third piece of wood for the diagonal support is cut to 6 3/4 inches with each end cut at a 45-degree angle (shape is Isosceles Trapezoid).

  2. Sand and Stain Wood Pieces

    how to make your own shelf brackets from scrap wood - full tutorial in post!

    Why am I staining my wood pieces now?  Because I will be using wood glue in a later step.  If you are not careful, wood glue can prevent stain from penetrating the wood.  So to avoid this altogether, I just stained each piece right now.  I used Early American Wood Stain.  Sand your pieces and remove the dust with a cloth or tack cloth.  Then, follow up with a coat of your favorite wood stain.  

  3. Construct Shelf Bracket 

    how to make your own shelf brackets from scrap wood - full tutorial in post!

    Your shelf brackets will come together as shown in the picture (see additional pictures below). Place your top and side piece in a right-angle clamp (see photos below) and use wood glue to attach them together.  This clamp is the best because it ensures you are attaching everything square at a 90-degree angle.  Keep this in place until the wood glue dries, about an hour.  Then remove your bracket from the clamp and attach the middle piece using wood glue on each end.  

  4. Optional:  Use Brad Nailer

    how to make your own shelf brackets from scrap wood - full tutorial in post!

    You can use a brad nailer to pop a few nails in the top and middle for extra security.  Wood glue is very strong and dries stronger than the surrounding wood.  You can use stronger glue (such as Gorilla Epoxy Glue) if need be, but for my purposes, Elmer’s wood glue works just fine. 

  5. Coat with Polyurethane

    Final step! You want to protect your shelf brackets. Polyurethane also helps to strengthen and harden the wood, which will help hold up the integrity of the shelf brackets.

how to make your own shelf brackets from scrap wood - full tutorial in post!
how to make your own shelf brackets from scrap wood - full tutorial in post!
how to make your own shelf brackets from scrap wood - full tutorial in post!

How to Hang Your DIY Wood Shelf Brackets

Now that we have our beautiful shelf brackets, you might be wondering – how the heck do I hang these things!??  Well, I’ll tell you.  

The first thing you want to do is find the studs with a stud finder and mark them.  Whenever you are hanging something that is going to hold some weight, your best bet is to screw it into the stud.  

Try to line up your shelf brackets with these studs if you can.  If you can’t do that, then try to use a heavy-duty anchor (although these will be screwed at an angle to account for the middle support piece). My shelves are exactly 25 inches long. If you have longer shelves, just space out your brackets more!

how to hang your diy shelf brackets - decorhint.com
how to hang your diy shelf brackets - decorhint.com

Since we have a middle piece, we will need to drill in our screws at an angle.  This is a bit cumbersome but totally doable.  To prevent your wood from splitting and cracking (lesson learned), you may want to drill a small pilot hole first before drilling in your screws.  

split wood from screw - how to install shelf brackets the right way
prevent the wood from splitting

After attaching your first shelf bracket to the wall, use a level to ensure the second bracket is installed at the same level.  After both brackets are attached to the wall, place your shelf on top!  

Girls room with wood shelves and shelf brackets holding books above a desk
girls room book shelves on the wall above a desk
close up view of wood diy shelf brackets
Girls room with wood shelves and shelf brackets holding books above a desk
close up view of wood diy shelf brackets
girls room book shelves on the wall above a desk

You can use a small screw to attach the shelf board to the brackets.  You won’t be able to see this screw if you cover the shelves with objects.  If you are concerned about this, you can always pre-drill a hole from underneath the bracket and then install a screw and attach the shelf to the board that way.  

And that’s it for these easy shelf brackets!!  Make sure to check out my other scrap wood projects and make yourself something fun.

I’ll be showing you guys how to make your own shelves too in a future post.  So stay tuned! 

Xo Karen