Making White Gloss Floating Shelves

In this job I’m making some bespoke white gloss floating shelves for a customer. They needed the shelves to be completely free-floating, very strong and a size that couldn’t be found ready-made.

Watch the full video here:

Making White Gloss Floating Shelves Using Only MDF Face Grain

Welcome back! I’m making some bespoke white gloss floating shelves for a customer. They need to be quite thin, so that they don’t look ridiculous, and need to be strong enough to support big jars of pasta and the like. This is a surprisingly tricky little job!

White Gloss Floating Shelves

I decided to make the shelves entirely out of face-grain 18mm MDF. I did this by applying a 45 degree bevel to all edges and then fitting the sides and front on as separate beveled pieces. The two main sheets of MDF for the shelf material are glued together using Titebond II wood glue and also brad nailed to give a bit of extra support. Using this method of construction the shelves are only 36mm thick, which is perfect.

Once the glue had dried I filled all of the nail holes with 2 part filler and then painted the shelves with acrylic primer undercoat. I then used a 12mm drill bit fitted in my drill press to drill a perfectly vertical hole down the shelf back. This required some minor modifications to my utterly useless drill press.

I then routed out the shape of the fittings so that they were recessed in to the back of the shelves. I just had to do this freehand with the palm router. Once I was happy the fittings would sit snugly in the back I could proceed with all the finishing to get them ready for installation. They were given two coats of water-based gloss paint.

Installation woes

I’ll be honest, the installation didn’t go well. The wall where the shelves were to be fitted were:

  1. Full of pipes
  2. Full of cables
  3. Dot & dab

I managed to avoid the pipes and cables but the dot & dab was my nemesis on this job. Even though I filled the dot & dab cavity with an injection filler and even though I used 4″ screws the plaster still gave way slightly under the fittings enough for the shelves not to sit level on the wall. On a solid wall this would never be a problem but the dot & dab just couldn’t handle it.

I ended up putting a third hidden fixing ‘underneath’ the bottom of each bracket so that the wall could no longer compress under the weight of the shelf. Essentially the force was being transferred to a hidden screw instead of to the weak wall. This problem would probably have been resolved by the Corefix fittings that I was sent a few weeks after doing this job. Next time!

These shelf brackets do have a handy little adjustment screw built in to them to compensate for any future sagging of the brackets – a nice little feature. They were solid once they were eventually installed and should last for many years!

Andy Mac
Latest posts by Andy Mac (see all)