Category Archives: Picture Frame

How to Build a DIY Picture Frame Shelf

Making a Gallery Ledge Shelf

  1. Gather your supplies. The gallery ledge shelf is a small sill that you can attach to a wall and then present your pictures on. 1×4 boards form the base and back of this shelf, and a 1×2 board will create a lip to keep pictures from falling or slipping free. In all, you’ll need:
    • 2-inch screws (5 cm)
    • 8-foot (2.44 m) long 1×2 board
    • 8-foot (2.44 m) long 1×4 board (x2)
    • Clamps (optional)
    • Drill (and screw drill bit)
    • Level
    • Pencil (optional; recommended)
    • Pocket hole jig (optional)
    • Ruler/tape measure (optional)
    • Saw (optional)
  2. Get your work area ready. You’ll need a flat, open work space to work efficiently. Your work bench/table should also be sturdy so it doesn’t wobble during your shelf construction. Remove any obstacles or potential tripping hazards, like unused equipment and electrical cords.
    • If you plan on painting or staining your shelf, you should do so in a well ventilated area. Choosing a well ventilated place, like an open garage, for your work area will prevent you having to relocate later when painting or staining.
    • As part of your preparation, you may want to cut your boards down to size. The width of your shelf is customizable to your needs, so long as all boards are cut to the same length.
  3. Drill pilot holes for easier fastening. By using a drill bit slightly smaller than the width of your screws, you can drill “pilot holes” to guide your screws and prevent splitting in the wood. For an 8-foot shelf:
    • Measure and mark four holes at regular intervals along the face of both long, thin sides of a 1×4, with each hole a quarter inch (6.35 mm) from the bottom edge. Then, drill a shallow pilot hole at each mark.
    • Position your undrilled 1×4 so it stands upright on its long, narrow edge. A quarter inch (6.35 mm) inward from the bottom of the long, narrow edge, measure, mark, and drill four more holes at the same increments as your first 1×4.
    • Position your 1×2 so it stands upright on its long, narrow edge. A quarter inch (6.35 mm) inward from the bottom of the long, narrow edge, measure, mark, and drill four more holes at the same increments as your 1x4s.
  4. Drill pocket holes for a more finished look. Pocket holes are drilled into a flat surface on an angle so the fastener, in this case a screw, passes through a board to emerge at a 90° angle (forming an L shape) with a flat face of the board. This kind of hole will be a less noticeable way of connecting the 1×4 back and the 1×2 lip of your shelf to the 1×4 base of the shelf. First:
    • Measure and mark four pocket holes at regular intervals along both long sides of a 1×4 so that each hole is ½” (1.27 cm) from the edge.
    • Adjust your pocket hole jig so the hole you drill emerges at a 90° angle (forming an L shape) to the face of the long, narrow side, and is ¼” (.64 cm) from the bottom edge.
    • Use a pocket hole jig to drill holes at the marks on your 1×4 so the screws emerge at a 90° angle (forming an L shape) to the face of the long, narrow sides of the 1×4.
    • The 1×4 with holes in the long, narrow faces will form the base of your shelf. At the holes, your other 1×4 will attach to the back as a mount, and the 1×2 to the front as a lip.
  5. Align and fasten your 1×4 boards. Lay flat the 1×4 with holes drilled along the middle of both faces of its long, narrow sides so that the holes of both sides are accessible, with a quarter inch (6.35 mm) of wood separating each hole from your work surface. Orient your second 1×4 so it stands on the long, narrow edge where you’ve drilled holes. Then:
    • Line up the 1x4s evenly so that an L shape is formed between the flat and upright boards. The pilot holes, having been drilled at the same increments, should also align.
    • Take a screw and place it onto the screw bit of your drill. Push the screw lightly into the pilot hole, so the tip sinks into the wood and steadies the screw.
    • With your free hand, realign the boards, if necessary, so that both are even, then hold the boards firmly to prevent them from slipping while screwing.
    • Hold the drill at a 90° angle to the board so it forms an L shape, apply moderate pressure to the drill, and slowly press the drill’s button until the screw is flat against the board and fastens both boards together. Repeat this for each of the four holes.
  6. Attach your 1×2 board. Take your 1×2 and stand it on the long, narrow edge along which you drilled holes. Align it with your flat 1×4 so that the ends are even. The holes drilled in both the 1×2 and 1×4 should align, and the 1×2 and 1×4 should form an L shape. Then:
    • Place a screw onto your drill bit and push the tip of the screw lightly into a pilot hole on your 1×2. Make sure both boards are aligned with your free hand, then use that hand to hold the boards together firmly.
    • Hold your drill at a 90° angle to the board so it forms an L shape, apply moderate pressure to the drill, and slowly press the button until the head of the screw is flat with the wood and fastens the two boards together. Repeat this for all four holes.[
  7. 7 Add personal touches, if desired. Your shelf is all put together, but you may want to add some paint or staining to give your shelf a nice, finished look. One of the benefits of building your own shelf is that you can choose a color or stain that matches your home decor.
    • Even if you don’t consider yourself much of an artist, you can make simple spray paint stencils and use these to create cool designs on your shelf.
  8. Hang your shelf and display your pictures. For the safest installation of your shelf, you should find stud(s) in the wall where you plan to hang your shelf. Studs will be more stable and prevent your shelf from pulling free of the wall. Then:
    • Measure and mark where on the wall’s stud(s) you will attach the back of your shelf (the upright 1×4). For an 8-foot shelf, you should have two opposite side stud anchors (one on the right of the shelf, one on the left, for example). Each anchor should have two to four screws connecting the back of the shelf and wall.
    • You should always check the levelness of your shelf with a carpenter’s level before screwing in any screws.
    • Hanging a shelf incorrectly can result in an unsightly slant. Having a second set of hands to help can prevent these kind of errors.[