Ever hear the saying “your opening a can of worms?” Especially when remodeling or redecorating your home, you are bound to either find something wrong, or completely change your mind half way through the project.

Well, after I decided to paint my yellow walls all white, my hallway was looking a little lifeless and needed something to break it up.

I decided that instead of hanging my photo collage back up that I would make a DIY picture ledge to hold my large collection of family pictures.

I’m going to show you how I made my (3) eight foot long picture ledges in just a couple of hours.

pin for DIY picture ledge instructions

Materials I used to build my picture ledge

  • (2) 1″ x 4″ x 8′ pine boards (per ledge)
  • (1) 3/4″ x 1/2″ x 8′ pine board (per ledge)
  • Stain or paint of your choice
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws (size depends on wood thickness used)
  • Paint brush or rags for staining
  • Clamps
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Power drill/screwdriver
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Flat spade drill bit (size depends on size of screw heads used)
  • Drill bit (size depends on screws used)

This is a great beginner DIY project because it only took me about 2 hours to make 3 shelves. This is because my boards were already cut to the size I needed and I stained the boards and didn’t use polyurethane. Stain dries very fast so I was able to make the boards and hang them practically right away.

If you are cutting, painting, priming and caulking, you will have to add a lot more time to complete your project. It still won’t take long to make the boards, just extra time for drying between coats.

1 day 1 day, 1 hour and 1 minute.

DIY picture ledges

  1. Measure for your ledges

    Measure the area where you want to hang your DIY picture ledge/ledges so you will know how many you want and how long you want them to be.

    The list above is for an 8′ space in a long hallway. You will either need to cut your boards to the appropriate length for your space, or you can buy the boards in a smaller length. Most home improvement stores have boards that are 6′, 8′, and 10′ long. Buy the shortest board you need and have them cut it if you need it smaller.

  2. Glue boards together and clamp

    Lay one of your 4″ boards flat on your work surface and place another 4″ board perpendicular to your first board in an “L” shape. Add glue between the two boards and clamp them together. Flip the board around so both boards will be glued to the same side of the bottom base board.



    Add your smaller 3/4″ x 1/2″ board to the top of the bottom 4″ board, glue and clamp. Your profile will now look like a “J”.

    Notice how both the 4″ and the smaller 3/4″ board are on top of the second 4″ board. I did this so all of the screw holes will be on the bottom of the shelf out of sight with exception of the screws that will mount to the wall. (See diagram below.)

    You can also attach the back board behind the bottom board and those screws will be in the back where you won’t see them at all. Keep in mind that your back board (the part that attaches to the wall) will be a little shorter this way. That is how the photo above is pictured but not how I did myself.

    You can also attach the smaller front board to the front instead of on top but you will see the screws from the front and will definitely need to cover them before finishing.

    By putting the upright pieces this way instead of how I did it you will also make the front lip shorter and the whole shelf will be deeper and protrude from the wall more. Keep this in mind while deciding how you want to construct it. But either way will work.

  3. Drill big holes first with a flat drill bit

    You will be making holes in the bottom board to screw up into the two top boards.

    First, use an appropriately sized flat or spade drill bit to make large holes in the bottom of your ledge to countersink the screws. Just make sure the holes are wide and deep enough to hide the screw heads and to fill with wood filler if you decide to.

    If you’d like to learn more about using a spade bit to drill your countersunk hole, visit this site to learn more. Albany County Fasteners



    I made holes about every foot for my 8′ shelf. But you can determine how many screws you will need for your sized ledge. You’ll want to consider how heavy the objects are that you want to put on the shelf.

  4. Drill pilot holes for the screws

    Use an appropriate sized regular wood drill bit (see above) to drill deeper holes inside your countersunk holes. You will be drilling all the way through the bottom board and into the other two boards.

    This is an important step because you do not want to split your wood trying to screw it together.

  5. Screw boards together

    After drilling all your holes, screw the boards together using the appropriate sized wood screws and your power drill.

  6. Fill screw holes

    If you do not want to have holes in the bottom of your shelf, then fill these holes with wood filler. Be sure to choose either paintable or stainable wood filler for your desired finish.

    You can also use a paintable caulking to fill in any seams or cracks before painting for a flawless finish. Fill in the areas you want then wipe off any access with a damp cloth and let dry. Do not do this if you are going to stain! You will see it.

  7. Sand the ledge

    Wipe off any glue that seeped out then take some sandpaper and sand off any rough or splintery sections until smooth. You will also want to sand over the filled holes and caulking if you used it.


    Here’s my constructed DIY picture ledge before finish

  8. Paint or stain your ledge

    If you are going to paint your picture ledge you may want to use a paint primer first. This is not necessary but it will help your paint cover better with fewer coats. I always paint two coats no matter what.

    Paint two coats of paint and let the paint dry before hanging.

    If your staining your shelf you can also use a wood primer. I have never done this but had great results even without it.

    If you stained, and it is dry, you can add a couple coats of polyurethane to add shine and bring out the color of the wood. Again it is not necessary and basically is a preference of how you want your finished product to look.

    If you used a polyurethane then let it dry completely before you hang it.

  9. Find and mark your studs

    Determine where you want to hang your shelf and use a stud finder to locate the studs in the wall. Mark these with a pencil above or below where you want to hang your shelf.

  10. Hang you new DIY picture ledge

    Hold your ledge on the wall where you want it. Mark where your studs are located on the back board of your ledge. Now you can predrill holes in your ledge for hanging.

    Start with your center screw hole and attach it to the wall with your power drill. Use your level and adjust until it’s level, then screw in the remaining screws to secure your ledge.

    Then decorate!

pin image of how to make a DIY picture ledge
DIY inspiration image

If you like to get creative then check out our DIY/Crafts section.

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