Wooden floating bookshelves – checkbox design
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:
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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:
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.
2. I glued the math paper on a piece of plywood.
3. After the glue dried, I cut the plywood template with the bandsaw.
So I got the shape of the new small bookshelves:
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.
For the inner edges, I used a thin belt sander.
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.
5. I drew the sanded template on another piece of plywood and I cut it with the bandsaw.
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.
This way I could make the second template identical to the first one using the router and a flush trim pattern router bit.
7. I cut the second template into two pieces, so I could use thinner oak wood boards for the small pieces needed.
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.
2. I drew the small pieces on the 4,5 cm thick scraps using the two small templates.
3. I cut all the small pieces with the bandsaw.
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.
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.
6. I secured the template on the oak wood piece with screws. I did the same for the small pieces.
7. I routed the edges using the same flush trim router bit.
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.
After I finished routing all the pieces I put them together to see how the wooden floating bookshelves would look.
9. When every little piece of wood was ready, I applied the adhesive on each layer.
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.
Building the thin oak wood square frames for the wall mounted bookshelves
After we finished building the shelves, we continued with the 5 thin wooden frames needed for the “boxes”. We decided to make them as thin as possible. We used 8 mm thick and 2 cm wide oak and ash planks. The length of each side was 23.5 cm. Being so thin, we had to reinforce the corners of the frames with 3.17 mm thick oak strips glued in routed slots. We used a T-type slot cutter bit (3.17 mm high and 10.17 mm diameter).
These are the thin square frames. In the beginning, we wanted to build four frames from ash wood, painted with black matte paint (for 4 natural wood shelves) and a frame made of natural oak (for a shelf painted with black paint). But we realized that it would not look so good. So we finally chose the option to paint all the frames with black matte paint and to let a natural look to the floating bookshelves.
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 used the belt sander to sand the thin edges of the square frames.
I used the orbital sander to sand the faces of the frames. I also rounded the sharp edges by hand
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 arranged the square frame and I traced the lines using the frame as template
- I built a template using some plywood scraps, to route the slots for the frames.
- I used the same top bearing flash trim router bit to route the slots.
This is what I got in the end:
The square frame fitted very well.
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 made them using the plunge router with a keyhole slot router bit
These are the keyholes for hanging our”check box” wooden floating bookshelves:
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: