How to Build Display Shelves

Creating stylish and functional display shelves is a gratifying project that not only adds a personalized touch to your living space but also serves as a practical solution for showcasing cherished items. Whether you’re an avid collector, a minimalist seeking organizational bliss, or someone looking to maximize storage in a small area, building your own display shelves can be a rewarding endeavor.

How to Build Display Shelves

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the step-by-step process of how to build display shelves, from selecting the right materials and measurements to assembling and finishing touches. Whether you opt for floating shelves, wall-mounted cubbies, or a freestanding unit, we’ll uncover the essential techniques and tips to ensure a sturdy, aesthetically pleasing result.

Join us on a journey of carpentry and creativity as we empower you to turn empty walls or corners into captivating displays that reflect your unique style and showcase your most treasured possessions.

Purpose and Benefits of Display Shelves

Display shelves are an essential element in any modern home or commercial space. These shelves serve a variety of purposes and can be used to enhance the appearance of a room, showcase prized possessions, or organize everyday items. In this guide, we will discuss how to build display shelves and explore their many benefits.

Purpose of Display Shelves

The primary purpose of display shelves is to showcase items in an organized and visually appealing manner. These shelves are designed to hold a variety of objects, from books and photos to collectibles and home decor pieces. With display shelves, you can create a focal point in any room that captures attention and elevates the overall aesthetic.

Benefits of Display Shelves

There are several benefits to incorporating display shelves into your space. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.

  1. Organization: Display shelves are an excellent way to keep your space neat and tidy. By providing designated spaces for your items, these shelves can help declutter any room and create a sense of order.
  2. Visual Appeal: With their sleek design and customizable options, display shelves can enhance the visual appeal of any room. They can be used to add a pop of color, texture, or dimension to an otherwise plain wall.
  3. Showcasing Prized Possessions: Whether it’s your favorite books, family photos, or valuable collectibles, display shelves are perfect for showcasing your most treasured possessions. You can arrange them in a way that highlights their unique features and makes them stand out.
  4. Easy Access: Display shelves are a practical storage solution as they allow for easy access to items on them. Unlike closed cabinets, where you have to open doors or drawers, display shelves make it effortless to grab what you need.
  5. Space-saving: For smaller rooms with limited floor space, display shelves are an excellent way to maximize the use of vertical space without taking up valuable floor space. You can also opt for corner display shelves to utilize those often overlooked areas.
  6. Personalization: One of the best things about display shelves is the ability to personalize them according to your style and preferences. You can choose from various materials, sizes, and designs to create a unique and customized look for your space.
Personalize Them According to Your Style

10 Methods How to Build Display Shelves

1. Choose a Design

The first step in building display shelves is to choose a design that fits your needs and space. There are many different styles of display shelves, including floating shelves, ladder shelves, and cube shelves. Consider the purpose of your display shelves and the items you will be displaying when choosing a design.

If you are displaying fragile items, you may want to choose a design with secure brackets or rails. If you want to display items of varying sizes and shapes, a shelving unit with adjustable shelves would be a good choice.

2. Gather Materials

Once you have chosen a design, gather all the necessary materials for your project. This may include wood boards, screws, nails, brackets, and paint or stain for finishing touches. Make sure to measure and cut the wood boards according to your desired shelf dimensions. You can also have them pre-cut at your local hardware store to save time and effort.

3. Prepare the Wood

Before assembling your shelves, it is important to prepare the wood by sanding it down and smoothing out any rough edges or imperfections. This will help create a professional-looking finished product. However, if you prefer a more rustic look, then skip this step and leave the wood as is.

Important to Prepare the Wood

4. Assemble the Shelves

Using screws or nails, assemble the wood boards according to your chosen design. It may be helpful to use a clamps to hold the boards in place while attaching them together. Make sure to evenly space out the shelves and secure them tightly.

You can also use wood glue along with the screws or nails for added strength. Once all shelves are attached, place your completed display shelf on a flat surface and check that it is sturdy and stable. If needed, make any necessary adjustments before moving on to the next step.

5. Add Support Brackets

For sturdier shelves, consider adding support brackets underneath each shelf board. These can be attached with screws or nails and will help distribute weight evenly across the shelf. If you are using heavier items to display, this step is especially important to prevent sagging or breakage.

6. Paint or Stain

Once assembled, you can choose to paint or stain your display shelves to match your decor or personal style. Allow ample time for drying before moving on to the next step. If you have chosen to use wood glue for assembly, be sure to sand down any excess glue before painting or staining, as this can interfere with the finish.

7. Mount on Wall

If you have chosen floating shelves or other wall-mounted designs, it is important to properly mount them on the wall using appropriate hardware such as anchors and screws. This will ensure that your display shelves are securely attached to the wall and can hold the weight of your items without any risk of falling or damage to your walls.

8. Use Leveling Tools

To ensure that your display shelves are straight and level on the wall, use a leveling tool while mounting them. This will prevent any crookedness or tilting once they are attached. A good option is to use a laser level, which will project a straight line on the wall for you to follow. You can also use a traditional bubble level, but be sure to check both horizontally and vertically for accuracy.

9. Arrange Items

After mounting your display shelves, arrange your items in an aesthetically pleasing way. Consider using different heights, textures, and colors to create an eye-catching display. For example, you could group smaller items together or place taller items in the back to create depth. Experiment with different layouts until you find one that you like.

Periodically Check for Any Loose Screws

10. Regular Maintenance

To keep your display shelves looking their best, make sure to regularly dust and clean them. Also, periodically check for any loose screws or damaged areas that may need repair. In this section, we will provide some tips and guidelines on how to properly maintain your display shelves.

Things to Consider When Building Display Shelves

Building display shelves can be a fun and rewarding project, whether you are an experienced woodworker or just starting out. It allows you to showcase your skills and creativity while also serving as a functional piece of furniture for your home or office.

Purpose and Location of the Display Shelves

The first thing to consider is the purpose of the display shelves. Are you building them to showcase collectibles, books, or other items? This will determine the size and shape of the shelves. Additionally, think about where you want to place the shelves in your space. Will they be mounted on a wall or placed on the floor? Knowing these details will help guide your design and material choices.

Design and Style

Display shelves come in various designs and styles, from simple floating shelves to elaborate built-in units. Consider the overall aesthetic of your space and choose a design that complements it. You can also opt for a more unique and personalized look by incorporating different materials or finishes.

Display Shelves Come in Various Designs and Styles

Material Selection

Depending on the purpose, location, and design of your display shelves, you will need to select the appropriate materials. Common materials used for building display shelves include wood, metal, and glass. Each has its own pros and cons, so it’s important to research and choose the best option for your project.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Building Display Shelves

Choosing the Wrong Materials

One of the most common mistakes when building display shelves is choosing the wrong materials. It’s important to select materials that are sturdy enough to hold the weight of your items without bending or breaking. Many people make the mistake of using flimsy materials like particle board or MDF, which may not be strong enough to support heavier items. Instead, opt for solid wood or metal for a more durable and long-lasting display shelf.

Choosing the Wrong Materials

Not Taking Measurements

Another common mistake is not taking accurate measurements before building the shelves. It’s crucial to measure the space where you plan on placing the display shelves and then create a detailed plan or blueprint. This will ensure that the shelves fit perfectly in the designated space and avoid any issues with spacing or stability.

Inadequate Support

Display shelves need proper support to prevent them from collapsing or sagging under the weight of your items. Many people underestimate the importance of support when building display shelves and end up with a flimsy structure. It’s important to use brackets, braces, or other support features to strengthen the shelves and distribute weight evenly. This will ensure that your display shelves can hold all of your items securely.


In conclusion, building your own display shelves is not only a rewarding and cost-effective project, but it also allows you to add a personal touch to your home decor. From choosing the perfect wood to painting and decorating the shelves, there are endless possibilities for customizing your display space.

With the step-by-step instructions and tips provided in this post, you have all the tools and knowledge needed to create your very own unique and stylish display shelves. Thanks for reading, and we hope this has given you some inspiration on how to build display shelves!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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