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Build a simple wall to wall shelves

A step-by-step tutorial on how to build a simple wall to wall shelves for your home.

We had an awkward space in one of our kid’s room where the walls were close together. Do you have an awkward wall? We decided that building shelves between the two walls would be the best use of space. Plus it would be a great place to store the kid’s toys (aka Legos). And because I love sharing tutorials, here is how to build a simple wall to wall shelves for your awkward space.

how to build wall to wall shelves


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  • 1″x2″ boards
  • 1″x10″ boards
  • 1.5″ finishing nails (16 gauge would be great for this project)
  • caulk
  • spackling paste
  • paint and primer
  • stain
  • tung oil (wood sealer)
  • #220 grit sandpaper


Find the list of tools we use.


STEP 1: Measure the space

The first thing you need to do is measure the space you have to work with. You also need to decide on the number of shelves you would like plus the spacing between each shelf. By doing this it will help you determine the amount of wood you need to purchase.

The way the shelves works is that the 1″x2″ board is the bracing that is on the wall that the 1″x10″ board sits on the bracing. I did decide that I wanted the 1″x2″ brace 1/2″ shorter than the shelf.

SIDE NOTE: Because our walls are so close together we decided to have deeper shelves so our shelves are two 1″x10″ boards side by side.

It’s a great idea to create a sketch of the shelves with cutting measurements. TIP: Make sure to measure the location of each shelf because your wall could be unlevel.

STEP 2: Cut, sand, and finish wood

Next cut the 1″x2″ boards and 1″x10″ boards to the sizes you need. Take the 1″x10″ boards and check the fit in the desired location. I like to label where the shelf will be based on the sketch, this way I can keep track of the placement of each board.

cut boards for shelves

After the wood is cut to the size you need, sand the wood using #220 grit sandpaper with an orbital sander.

Once the wood is smooth, wipe it clean with a cloth. Then apply your wood finish. We decided to paint the braces (1″x2″ boards) white but we did apply 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of white paint.

paint bracing for wall to wall shelves

For the shelves, we wanted the wood stained. We used Provincial stain by Minwax but sealed the wood with 2 coats of tung oil, see more info about tung oil here.

Then let everything dry.

STEP 3: Install the bracing

Once all the 1″x2″ boards have dried it is time to install them onto the wall. You should know how many shelves you are installing plus the spacing between each shelf.

Start with the bottom shelf and using a tape measure, measure from the floor up to the wall. Mark the location of your bottom shelf. Do this on both walls.

TIP: Remember to allow for the width of the shelf. This mark is where the top of the brace will be, adjust your measurements according to that.

Next, take one 1″x2″ brace and place it on the wall so that the board lines up with the mark. Take a small level and make sure the board is level. Then nail the board into place (you will want at least 3 nails per board).

nail bracing to wall for shelves

Then move to the other wall and add another brace the same way.

TIP: I like to place the shelf before nailing the second brace to make sure that the shelf is level because sometimes the floor is unlevel.

level shelves between walls

Continue this process until all the bracing is installed.

install bracing for shelves

bracing for wall to wall shelves

After patch all the nail holes with spackling paste and sand it smooth when it dries. To give the bracing a seamless finish, apply caulk to the seams (where the brace hits the wall). When everything has dried touchup the bracing with paint.

STEP 4: Install the shelves between the walls

Once all the bracing is installed, place the shelves onto the bracing. Secure the shelves into place by nailing them to the bracing. Be mindful of the other nails in the bracing because you will want to miss them.

two boards for shelves

And that’s it! After four simple steps, you have wall to wall shelves. This shelving is the perfect way to add more storage to a room. And in my case a fantastic way to store my kid’s Legos!

build wall to wall shelves

I hope this tutorial helps you build your own wall to wall shelves!

build wall to wall shelves


  1. Your posts have very well laid out steps! I love the details steps because I am one to follow directions but need them detailed in order to get my projects to turn out :)

    1. Thank you, Mindy! I try to give as many details as I can and its great hearing you love it!

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