• Karlyn

What We Learned from This DIY Floating Shelf Project

We thought, two shelves can't be that difficult. Well, it was a little more work than we anticipated. Here's why ...


Our mission, first and foremost, is to restore or upgrade something for as little as possible. And since rustic floating shelves are selling for approximately $40 to $60 each, we decided that if we wanted them, we would have to make them ourselves. So we did and before we get into the nitty gritty of what we went through to put them up, we'd like to first go over the costs:


  • Pine wood board (1in x 8in deep x 8" long) was purchased from Home Depot for approximately $9

  • 1 qt Varathane smoke gray wood stain from Home Depot for $6.98

classic wood stain for floating shelf
Photo Credit: Home Depot
  • Old pipes for free. These were found outside of Pierre's house (Jessica's boyfriend). Who knows how long they've been there, but it didn't matter because FREE is a great thing in this situation, especially since many places sell them for at least $9 per pipe.


  • 4 pipe caps from our local hardware store $10 (these were definitely not a bargain!)


  • Drywall anchor from Home Depot was used to secure the pipes to the wall. This cost $12.20 for the pack of 50. Perhaps we'll use more of it later on.



  • We used the Rust-oleum Hammered Gray spray paint to color the old pipes, which we purchased from the Home Depot for $5.98.

  • The total amount we spent for all the parts was $44.16. We believe we saved at least $50 (if you were to compare it with a pre-made, cheaper version) just for making it ourselves.

We were lucky to be "gifted" some old rusty pipes, which Jessica's boyfriend, Pierre gave us. It had been sitting at the side of his house for a while. Looking closely, you can see just how bad they were:


So I asked my husband (vintage motorcycle builder), who was very experience with removing rust from metal what he thought was the best way to get that rust off.


"Is there some sort of rust cleaner or a solution or something that I could use?" I asked.


"Your best solution is to use a wire brush," he replied.


My first thought was, "there is absolutely NO way I'm doing that!"


Then he said, "come with me," and so I walked over to his "man cave," where he turned on a machine and showed me just how to use it to remove the rust off the pipes.


Believe it or not, I actually found this process to be a lot of fun! Seeing old things turn into something shiny and new was fabulous! Check out the difference:




They turned out great, right? Well, the work isn't done, because then we realized the pipes were just way too long for the 8" deep wood we purchased. So we had a little adjustment to make.


We are all about doing everything ourselves, but cutting metal is just not quite as simple. There's a lot of safety precautions that must be considered and frankly, I would rather not screw this one up. So I had to call on the aide of my husband who is actually the experienced one when it comes to metal work.



When the pipe was cut, the threads went along with it. These threads would have been great for securing the cap, but unfortunately, that was no longer the case in this situation. So my husband had to scrape off parts of the area where the threads would have been and then hammered the caps on it to secure it.


Not bad, right? Don't worry. It's all going to be just fine, because we've got our handy dandy Rust-oleum paint sprayer to the rescue!



All done with the pipes!

We bought a long piece of 2in x 8in x 96in pine wood from Home Depot. We then had them cut it into 2 boards of 24 inches each, which were of course meant for the shelf itself.


Although that wood is already cut perfectly, you want to make sure it's free from any sort of loose wood that could cause splinters. Of course, you also want to make sure your paint or wood stain will go on cleanly.


Sanding your wood makes it an uncontaminated surface for the paint to adhere to. And it usually makes it smoother and just much nicer looking.


Once you've sanded, make sure you clean it off with a wet towel. This just ensures the surface is nice and clean and ready for the stain (or paint).


As mentioned above, we used the Classic Varathane Wood Stain. Had we known it was going to take hours to dry, we would have spent just a little more on the premium one.


Wood stain doesn't work the same as paint when it comes to multiple coats. Sometimes dried versions of your coat might come out lighter or uneven. So, yes, the wood stain you purchase can make a difference, especially since we had to turn the wood around to paint the other side.

After too many coats of stain, we started to see tiny bubbles. So we decided that the only way to get rid of this is to distress the wood with fine sanding. Plus, it would certainly go with our intention of making it fit into the Modern Farmhouse style we're attempting for her entire house.


Some people like to be really careful by lightly sanding with a hand sander for the distressed look. I guess it all depends on what you're really comfortable with, because for me, I still used my handy dandy sander. I just made sure I used a 220 grit sand paper to do so.

Now that we have everything we need, we are ready to install it onto the shelf. It's a little more tricky than we realized, but you can find all the step-by-step instructions on our DIY Rustic Floating Shelves post.


It's a little tricky, but if you follow along, it shouldn't be too difficult. After all, we're amateurs here. So if we can do it, so can you!

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