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DIY Picture Ledge Shelf

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This is such a fun, quick, beginner friendly build!  This build will only take you a couple of hours to complete, except for drying.

My sister is so lucky to have many beautiful works of art from Andrew’s Grandmother.  So many that she was having a hard time figuring out how and where to hang them all in their new house; but she wanted to hang them all!  So, I built this shelf for for their living room wall, to go above their couch and give them a way to show off all the wonderful pieces of art! 

Step 1: Decide on Shelf Length

For this shelf, you will need two 1×3’s and one 1×2.  We choose to make the shelf 8 feet, which meant there are no cuts!  If you choose a standard length, like we did, there are no cuts necessary! 

For shorter shelves, cut the boards to the desired lengths.  For example, if you want a 36 inch shelf; cut two 1×3’s at 36 inches and one 1×2 at 36 inches.  Then you can follow the remaining steps below. 


Step 2: Attach the two 1x3's

Attached the two 1×3’s together with 2 inch screws.  Use clamps to hold the boards together, then drill pilot holes about every 12 inches for the screws.  Then screw together the two boards.  

It is important to use screws to attach these boards, as the backboard will be used to hang the shelf on the wall and the screws provide a more stronger hold to secure your shelf to the wall.

wood screws

Step 3: Attach the 1x2 board to the Front

diy picture ledge

Hold the 1×2 on the front of the 1×3 using your clamps.  Using a brad nailer and 1 1/4 inch nails, attach the 1×2 to the front of the 1×3. 

If you do not have a brad nailer, then use a hammer and small finishing nails

The brad nails or finishing nails will be easier to finish, rather than screws, since you will just have pinpoint holes to fill.   

Step 4: Fill the Holes on the 1x2

To create a smooth finished look, you will want to fill the nail holes on the front of the 1×2. 

If you plan to paint your shelf you can use any wood filler.  If you plan to stain your shelf, make sure to use a stainable filler or a stain matched wood filler. 

I used Minwax Stainable Wood Filler.  I put a small amount of the filler on my finger and simply pressed it into the holes.  Then, once it dried I lightly sanded with a fine sanding block until it was smooth on the board. 

Step 5: Paint or Stain Shelf

diy picture ledge

Now you can paint or stain your shelf.  I used a Minwax stain in Colonial Maple.  Then applied Minwax Helmsman Urethane finish.  This is an indoor/outdoor finish, if you choose to use this finish make sure you apply it in a well ventilated space.  This type of finish is not necessary on a shelf like this but we wanted to match the sofa table Rachel had built behind her couch so choose to use the same finish.

diy picture ledge
diy picture ledge

Step 6: Hang the Shelf

picture ledges

To hang your shelf, start by locating the wall studs, using a stud finder.  Then hold your shelf in the position you’d like it on your wall and mark the stud locations on the back board of you shelf.  Drill pilot holes in the back 1×3, then hold your shelf back in position and attach into the wall studs with screws.  Then decorate & enjoy!

wood screws

Want more living room DIYs?  Check out this DIY ledge sofa table.

diy photo ledge


Home Depot: 1 in. x 3 in. x 8 ft. Premium Kiln-Dried Square Edge Whitewood Common Board
Home Depot: 1 in. x 2 in. x 8 ft. Premium Kiln-Dried Square Edge Whitewood Common Board
diy photo ledge

DIY Picture Ledge Shelf

5 from 1 vote
Build Time 2 hours
Dry Time 1 day
Units 1


  • Drill
  • Nail Gun
  • Clamps


  • 2 1x3 Boards
  • 1 1x2 Boards
  • 2" Screws
  • 1 1/4" Nails (or Tack Nails)
  • Wood Filler (stainable, if staining)
  • Sanding Block
  • Stain or Paint


  • Decide on Shelf Length
  • Attach the two 1x3's
  • Attach the 1x2 board to the Front
  • Fill the Holes on the 1x2
  • Paint or Stain Shelf
  • Hang the Shelf
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1 thought on “DIY Picture Ledge Shelf”

  1. 5 stars
    The picture shelf is a fabulous idea! Simple elegance. A way to display many different pictures in a secure manner without all the problems of “in wall” hanging!
    The ability to even change the grouping without filling holes in the wall as the shape and size of the frames may change.

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