Wooden floating bookshelves – checkbox design

a creative design of wooden floating bookshelves

We are back with our first 2021 project: small wooden floating bookshelves. We found this creative idea on Pinterest. We loved the design very much and we wanted to have something like this in our living room. My wife told me about it and I came with some improvements. I changed the used material:

  • instead of plywood for the “check” sign I used solid oak wood
  • instead of black adhesive tape I built thin wooden frames

You can also find the video on our YouTube channel:

How to build a small wooden wall mounted book shelves

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Here’s how I built our own “check box” floating bookshelves:

Building the “check box” templates for our wooden floating bookshelves

First of all, we started to draw the “check” sign. The drawing took my wife a few hours. She tried to use her new graphic tablet (an Xp-Pen Artist 13.3 Pro model), but because she’s not that advanced yet, she didn’t get what she wanted. So, she started to draw it on a piece of math paper. After another 1 hour of drawing, erasing, drawing, erasing and so on, she got it:

this is my check box drawing i will use for building the diy small wall mounted shelves
My wife drew the shape of the check box sign for the small shelves

In the workshop, I started to build the templates. I wanted to use only scraps and I also wanted not to waste too much wood. So, I decided to build three different templates:

  • one for the entire wooden “check” sign (the 2,5 cm thick oak wood for the back and for the front layers of the bookshelves)
  • two templates for half of the shelves (4,5 cm thick oak wood for the middle layers of the bookshelves)

1. I applied the water based adhesive on the back of the drawing.

I applied the adhesive to glue up the check box on a piece of plywood in order to build the template for my wooden floating bookshelves
Appling the adhesive on the back of the check box drawing

2. I glued the math paper on a piece of plywood.

I glued the check box drawing on a piece of plywood in order to build the template for our small shelves
Gluing the drawing on a piece of plywood

3. After the glue dried, I cut the plywood template with the bandsaw.

I cut the template for the small wall mounted shelves using the bandsaw
Cutting the template for the small floating shelves

So I got the shape of the new small bookshelves:

this is the "check box" sign template that I will use to build the wooden floating bookshelves
The “check box” sign template before sanding it

4. In order to use it as template, I had to sand the edges. I used the belt sander for the outer edges, being careful not to cross the lines.

I sanded the plywood template used for routing the shape of our small wall mounted shelves
Sanding the edges of the template

For the inner edges, I used a thin belt sander.

I used a thin belt sander to sand the inner corner of the plywood template that I will use to route the shape of the small shelves
Sanding the inner corner of the shelves plywood template

I sanded very well all the edges of the first template, so there weren’t any bandsaw traces left. I used this first template to build another identical one and all the thin pieces for the shelves.

I used the first template to make another two for the middle pieces of the wooden shelves
Using the first template to build another two

5. I drew the sanded template on another piece of plywood and I cut it with the bandsaw.

I drew the check box sign on another pliece of plywood to build the other two templetes needed for the wooden shelves
Drawing the check box on another piece of plywood

6. I drilled some holes and I countersunk them to secure the first template to the second one with screws. The first one will be used as a routing template for the second one.

I used a flush trim pattern router bit to build a second template for the oak wood wall floating shelves
Routing the second template with a flush trim pattern router bit

This way I could make the second template identical to the first one using the router and a flush trim pattern router bit.

the two identical templates needed to build this set of 5 oak wood wall mounted shelves
Two identical templates for building the wall mounted shelves

7. I cut the second template into two pieces, so I could use thinner oak wood boards for the small pieces needed.

I cut the second plywood template into two pieces so save wood for this floating shelves
Cutting the second templates into two pieces

Building the small wooden floating bookshelves

First, I built the wooden “check” sign, so I could be able to establish the sizes of the square frames. I set the depth of the floating shelves to 14 cm. I decided to use:

  • 2,5 cm thick oak wood for the back and for the front pieces and
  • 4,5 cm thick oak wood for the middle pieces

The wooden “check ” sign

1. I planed 5 cm thick oak scrap to get them to 4,5 cm. I only used the Metabo thicknesser because I didn’t need the boards squared.

I planed some thick oak wood scrap to cutout the middle pieces of wood for the wooden shelves
Planing the oak scraps for the middle layers of the shelves

2. I drew the small pieces on the 4,5 cm thick scraps using the two small templates.

I drew the shapes of the small templates, so I can save the wood as much as possible
Drawing the shapes of the small pieces of wood

3. I cut all the small pieces with the bandsaw.

these are the small pieces of oak wood needed for the center layers of the floating shelves
The small pieces of thick oak wood

4. I drew the entire “check” sign template on a 2,5 cm thick oak board after I planed it using the same method as I told you for the thicker ones.

I drew the entire check box sign on a thin plank of oak wood
Drawing the entire sign on a thin oak wood board

5. I cut the “check” signs with the bandsaw being careful not to cross the lines. These pieces of wood were going to be routed with a flush trim pattern router bit, using the template, to get them to the same size.

this is one oak wood "check box" sign needed to build the creative floating shelves
One “check box” cutout from the thin oak wood plank

6. I secured the template on the oak wood piece with screws. I did the same for the small pieces.

I secured the plywood template to the oak wood "check box" sign with screws before routing the wooden sign
Securing the plywood templated with screws

7. I routed the edges using the same flush trim router bit.

I used a flush trim pattern router bit and the playwood template to route the oak wood "check box" sign
Routing the oak wood “check box” sign
I routed the small pieces of wood using the same flush trim pattern router bit and the plywood template
Routing the small pieces of wood

8. I removed the template because the router bit had a short blade. After that, I made a second pass, using the first pass as template for the second one.

I continued to route the oak wood "check box" sign after I removed the plywood template
I removed the plywood template to be able to continue the routing
i finished routing the small pieces of wood needed for building the shelves, after I removed the plywood template
I finished routing the small pieces after I removed the plywood template

After I finished routing all the pieces I put them together to see how the wooden floating bookshelves would look.

I put all the layers together to check the shape of our small floating bookshelves
Arranging the oak wood pieces to get the shape of the small book shelves

9. When every little piece of wood was ready, I applied the adhesive on each layer.

i spread the water based adhesive and I glued up layer by layer in order to build the small floating bookshelves
Gluing the layers to build the small floating book shelves

10. I tightened them using three clamps: on the edges and in the middle of the shelves, so that the joint pieces were very well glued.

i tightened the floating bookshelves using only three F clamps
Tightening the wooden small book shelves

Building the thin oak wood square frames for the wall mounted bookshelves

When the “check” shape floating bookshelves were ready, I started to build the “boxes”. In fact, the “boxes” were some thin square oak and ash wood frames. I built them out of 8 mm thick oak and ash wood strips.

I planed some oak wood strips to build the square frames for the "check box" design of our small floating book shelves
Planing the oak strips for the frames of our “check box” design of floating book shelves

1. I cut the strips at 45 degrees using the sliding miter saw, so I could build 23, 5 cm square frames.

cutting the thin oak strips at 45 degrees to build square frames for the check box design of the floating book shelves
Cutting the 8 mm oak wood strips at 45 degrees needed for the square frames

2. I glued them and I used painter tape to hold them together.

we glue up the square wooden frames needed for the small floating book shelves
Gluing up the square frames needed for our “check box” design

So, these are the thin square frames. At the beginning, I wanted to make 4 black painted ash wood frames (for 4 natural “check” floating bookshelves) and 1 natural oak wood frame (for 1 black painted “check” floating bookshelf). But, I realized that they won’t look so well. So, finally I painted all the frames with black water based paint and I varnished all the “check” floating bookshelves.

these are the frames that I will use to build the wall floating shelves
The wooden frames used for our creative floating shelves

3. The next step was to reinforce the corners of the frames. After some research I found the best idea to reinforce the corners of such a thin frame. I used a T type slotting cutter router bit (3,17 mm high and 10.17 mm diameter) to route the corners with a trim router.

this is the T shape slotting cutter router bit I used to route the corners of the square frames to reinforced them with a thin oak wood strips
The T shape slotting cutter router bit

So, I cut 3.17 mm oak wood strip for reinforcing the corners, using the bandsaw

that was the 3,17 mm oak wood strip I used to reinforce the corners of the wooden thin frames
The 3,17 mm oak wood strip

I used a piece of plywood as guide, secured with clamps to the frames.

I used a plywood strip to be able to route the corners of the wooden frame to reinforced them with a thin oak wood strip
Using a plywood strip to route the corners of the frame

4.I routed the slots and I glued short pieces of the strip

this is a slot routed with the T type slotting cutter router bit
The routed slots with the T type slotting cutter router bit

5. After the glue dried, I cut the excess.

I cut the excess using the bandsaw
Cutting the wood excess

Finishing and installing the “check box” floating bookshelves

That moment I had all the pieces needed for building the entire floating bookshelves. So I started finishing them.

Sanding the small wall mounted bookshelves and the frames

I sanded the “check” floating bookshelves with a lot of sanding tools:

  • the belt sander for the inner faces and the edges
  • the thin belt sander for the inner corner
  • the orbital sander for the outer faces
  • the sheet orbital sander for the hard to reach areas

I also sanded them by hand at the corners and I slightly rounded all the sharp edges.

I sanded the small wooden floating bookshelves using 120 grit sandpaper
Sanding the oak wood book shelves

I used the belt sander to sand the thin edges of the square frames.

I sanded the thin wooden frames using the band sander with 120 grit sandpaper
Sanding the thin oak wood frames with the band sander

I used the orbital sander to sand the faces of the frames. I also rounded the sharp edges by hand

I sanded the faces of the thin square frames with the orbital sander using 120 grit sandpaper
Sanding the faces of the square frames
the creative wall mounted shelves after we arranged the two pieces needed for our DIY project
The “check box” small floating bookshelves, after sanding

Routing the slots for the frames into the back of the “check” sign floating shelves

For securing the square frames to the back of the shelves, I wanted to cutout some slots.

  • I marked 3 points on the back of the bookshelves
I market 3 points to be able to secure the square frames on the back of the wooden bookshelves
Marking the points to route the slots for the square frames
  • I arranged the square frame and I traced the lines using the frame as template
these are the marks needed to route the slots for the wooden square frames
Marks for routing the square frames slots
  • I built a template using some plywood scraps, to route the slots for the frames.
a simple plywoode template build in a few minutes to mahe repetitive cuts into the back of the small wooden bookshelves
The plywood template used for routing the slots for securing the square frames
I used a plywood jig to route the slots for secure the wooden square frames into the back of the simple wooden wall mounted bookshelves
Routing the slots for securing the wooden square frames

This is what I got in the end:

these are the three slots routed into the back of the wooden bookshelves for securing the black wooden square frames
The three routed slots for securing the square frames into the back of the bookshelves

The square frame fitted very well.

the frames were installed into the slots routed into the back of the floating bookshelves
The frame matched perfectly into the routed slots

The keyholes slots for hanging the wooden floating bookshelves

For hanging the wooden floating bookshelves, I made keyhole slots. This is the best and the simplest method we usually use for hanging picture frames, paintings or small shelves:

  • I marked their position
I marked the places where I will route the keyholes for installing the wooden floating bookshelves
Marking the places to route the keyholes
this is the keyhole slot router bit I used to route the keyholes into the back of the wooden wall mounted bookshleves
The keyhole slot router bit

These are the keyholes for hanging our”check box” wooden floating bookshelves:

these are the keyholes routed into the back of the wall mounted bookshelves, using a keyhole slot router bit
The keyholes routed with the keyhole slot router bit

Varnishing, painting and installing the bookshelves on the wall

The final step was to protect all the pieces:

  • I applied a layer of water based primer on the “check” signs
  • I sanded the “check” sign with 320 grit sandpaper
  • I applied water based varnish
  • for the square frames I applied two layers of black matte paint, sanding the surfaces with 320 grit sandpaper after the first layer has dried

We love the way the wall looks after we placed them on the living room wall.

And now, enjoy the photos and the video:

creative wooden floating bookshelf
Creative wall mounted bookshelf
the black square frames of the wall mounted bookshelves were painted with black matte paint
The black square frame
creative floating shelves made out of oak wood
Decorative wooden floating bookshelves
these are our small floating bookshelves
Our set of small wooden floating bookshelves
5 decorative small floating bookshelves
Our decorative wooden floating bookshelves

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