How to Build DIY Easy & Cheap Wooden Shelf Brackets

Looking for an inexpensive as well as easy way to add some extra storage space to your home? DIY wooden shelf brackets might be just the solution you need. In this step-by-step guide, I’ll show you how to build your own simple and affordable wooden shelf brackets using basic tools and scrap wood.

A full wall of farmhouse style shelving in a master bedroom closet with DIY easy wooden shelf brackets.

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With these easy-to-follow instructions, you’ll be able to create sturdy as well as stylish brackets that can support heavy loads and provide better use of your space.

I have built these shelving brackets (and versions of them in different sizes of wood) in multiple areas of my house. They’re such a breeze to put together, they’re beautiful and so inexpensive. So far they’re used in my dining room shelves, my laundry closet shelving, my kitchen shelves, and my closet shelves.

So, whether you’re looking to add some open shelving to your living room or create some extra storage in your kitchen, this is an easy DIY project that you can tackle in a single weekend. Let’s get started!

Farmhouse style shelving in a master bedroom closet with handmade wooden shelf brackets and baskets.
Empty farmhouse style wooden shelves with handmade wooden shelf brackets.

Why DIY Wood Shelf Brackets?

DIY wooden shelf brackets can be a great solution for adding storage space to your home without breaking the bank.

  1. Easy to Make. With just a few basic tools and some scrap wood, you can create sturdy as well as stylish brackets that can support heavy loads. And also transform any wall into an organized display area.
  2. Customizable. By building your own wooden brackets, you can also customize the design, size, and finish to match your decor and fit your specific needs.
  3. Bugdet-Frendly. The price of shelf brackets can add up depending on the amount of shelving you’re going to make. However, using common lumber or scrap pieces of wood makes it a fraction of that cost.

Whether you’re looking to create some open shelving in your living room, display your favorite cookbooks in the kitchen, or organize your workspace, DIY wooden shelf brackets offer an affordable and easy way to get the job done.

Simple wooden shelving brackets installed in a master bedroom closet with farmhouse style wooden shelves.

Gather Your Materials and Tools

All of my tools were purchased at Home Depot. Because it’s my favorite home improvement store. But you could also check your local hardware store or lumber yard and support a local business!

A blue round icon of a vintage tool box set.

When determining how much wood to buy you will need to know how many shelves you need, the length of the shelves, and the width. So, move on to planning your shelves before purchasing wood.

Planning Your Shelf Project: Design and Measurements

The first thing you need to do is determine the measurements of your shelf brackets. Therefore, you need to decide on your shelf depth. And to decide on shelf depth first figure out what you might use this shelf for.

Easy DIY wooden shelf bracket on it's side on a deck.
Easy DIY wooden shelf bracket finished the front part.

I will go through precise instructions using the size of the bracket I needed, but you may need a different size bracket. So, I include information to help you make yours built specifically for your space and project.

The good news is that measurements of the brackets are super easy because they’re literally three pieces, a top, back, and support. But ask yourself a few questions before moving forward with building your own diy shelf brackets.

questions to consider

  • How much weight will this shelf support?
  • What will you be storing it on? (to determine shelf depth needed)
  • Where will the shelves be located? (for spacing)
  • What type of wood will you use?
  • How many shelves will you need and at what height?
  • How will you space them out and ensure they are level?
  • How will you finish the wood and add any hardware or decorative elements?
  • What tools will you need for the project and do you have the necessary skills and experience to complete it?
  • How much time and budget do you have for the project and can you realistically complete it within those constraints?
  • How can you ensure the safety and stability of your shelves and brackets, especially if they will be supporting heavy loads or in high-traffic areas?

For example: If I am designing these shelves to store books, I will want to look at my biggest book and measure that object to ensure the shelves are deep enough. This will also determine the spacing between the shelves so your books can stand up, as well as the width of the shelf so you can fit all of your books.

Questions You May ASK

As a general rule of thumb, it’s recommended to use one bracket for every 16-20 inches of shelf length. For example, a 4-foot shelf would require at least two brackets, while an 8-foot shelf would need at least four brackets.

However, if you plan to store heavy items or if your shelves will be in a high-traffic area, it may be best to use more brackets to ensure stability and prevent sagging.

One common rule of thumb is to use brackets that are at least 2/3 the depth of the shelf. For example, if your shelf is 12 inches deep, your brackets should be at least 8 inches long. This will help distribute the weight of the shelf evenly and provide adequate support.

Building Your Wooden Shelf Brackets: Step-by-Step Guide

The smartest way to approach assembly is to form an assembly line. Have your wood glue, screws, impact driver, and Kreg Jig ready to build. And for quick processing, I made piles of the three pieces each bracket would need.

Step One – Cutting and Preparing Your Wood Pieces

Before you can start building your DIY wooden shelf brackets, you’ll need to cut and prepare your wood pieces.

Cutting a 1x2 creating DIY wooden shelf brackets with a miter saw.

This section will guide you through the process of selecting the right type of wood, measuring and cutting your pieces to size, as well as preparing them for assembly.

With these steps, you’ll be one step closer to creating functional as well as stylish shelves for your home on a very small budget!

Cut List for A Simple Shelf Bracket

Since my shelves will be 11 1/2″ deep I chose to create brackets that are 9″ in total length. You will need one of each of these pieces for each shelf bracket.

  • Top Piece: 9″
  • Back Piece: 8 1/4″
  • Diagonal Support: 8 7/8″ (with 45° angles on either side in opposite directions)

A Word of Caution: Make the 45° angled cut. Then measure 8 7/8″ from that point, mark it, and turn your board completely over. And then cut in the opposite direction from your first cut.

Get the most use out of the material by creating a cutting plan or layout before cutting the pieces. This involves carefully measuring and marking the wood, and then arranging the cuts to minimize waste and maximize the number of brackets that can be cut from the available wood.

To cut your boards efficiently

Cutting your back pieces and tops are simple as they are a simple straight edge cut. I would start with your largest pieces and then cut smaller pieces out of what is left out of each board.

I know from personal experience that cutting angles can feel tricky. So, make sure to pay attention to these detailed instructions and the following pictures.

Cut your 9″ board and your 8 1/4″ board with a straight cut. Set those aside and follow the directions below for cutting your 45° angle cuts.

To cut your angles follow this procedure for safe and efficient cuts:

  1. First, adjust your saw to a 45-degree angle.
  2. Then make your very first cut on your wooden board at the end an angle cut.
  3. Turn the board over and measure from the longest point and mark it at 8 7/8″.
  4. At this point, cut your angle. The angles should appear like an Isosceles Trapezoid.
  5. Continue this way until you have all of your angled supports.

Questions You May ASK

Hardwoods like oak, maple, cherry, or walnut are the best for shelf brackets as they are strong and durable enough to handle heavy things.

Pine is one of the least expensive types of wood for a shelf bracket, and using scrap or reclaimed wood can also be a cost-effective option.

Pine is a good wood for creating DIY shelf brackets because it is readily available, easy to work with, and relatively inexpensive. For heavy duty opt for 2″ thick wood vs 1″.

Step Two – Drilling Your Screw Holes

Using pocket holes is the best way to assemble shelf brackets, however, they aren’t the only way.

If you don’t have a Kreg Jig or can’t afford the extra cost of purchasing one, simply use nails or screws to attach the top of the bracket to the bottom piece instead.

the optional pocket hole

  1. Drill the Pocket Holes. You want your pocket holes to from the back up into the top board for maximum support. So make sure to drill all your pocket holes vertically on your 8 1/4″ back pieces. These will not be visible because the Kreg holes will be on the back of the bracket.
  2. Drill Pilot Holes. The next step is to drill your pilot holes at 2″ and 7″ on the base of the back pieces. Creating these predrilled screw holes eliminates the chance of the wooden board splitting when you’re installing it onto a wall. It needs to only be a small hole big enough for the screws to fit through.

Step Three – Sanding Your Wooden Shelf Brackets

Sanding in this order allows you to get rid of all the rough edges and chips from drilling holes. It also takes care of all of your pencil marks and gives you a beautiful smooth piece of wood.

Sanding a 1x2 pieces for a DIY wooden shelf bracket. Dewalt orbital sander on a deck with the pine pieces.
  • Start with 80 grit to get the roughest parts.
  • Then move to 120 grit sanding pads to finish it.

Step Four – Stain or Paint + Top Coat

You will want to stain or paint them before assembling them because it’s just easier. Also, if you accidentally get wood glue on anything while assembling that will not stain.

Getting ready to stain and top coat 1x2 pine pieces creating DIY wooden shelf brackets.
Getting ready to stain and top coat 1x2 pine pieces creating DIY wooden shelf brackets. After picture.

My personal favorite stain color is Early American, but there are so many beautiful variations. My only advice would be to use regular stain and not gel as that tends to make a huge mess.

staining best practices

  1. Test the stain on a scrap piece of wood before applying.
  2. Use lint-free rags and gloves to apply your stain.
  3. Apply the stain in thin coats.
  4. Wipe it on, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then wipe any excess off.
  5. You can apply additional coats as you want.
  6. Then apply a top-coat like Polycrylic to finish.
Vintage Note icon with a quill and ink bottle.

The easiest top coat option for these wooden shelf brackets would be Wipe-On Poly or Spray Poly. Both are quick to apply and dry.

Step Five – Assembling Your Shelf Brackets

In this step, we will assemble the shelf brackets by attaching the back, top, and diagonal support pieces to create a sturdy structure for your shelves.


  1. Apply wood glue to the top of the back piece and attach it to the bottom of the top piece.
  2. I like to shoot one Brad nail through the top in the center to keep them together for the rest of the assembly.
  3. Turn it upside down (as pictured). And hold it stable while you drive in the pocket hole screws.
  4. Then screw your pocket hole screws in to attach the back to the top.
  5. Turn it over and add glue to both angles on your diagonal support and put it into place.
  6. Then shoot two nails in the bottom and the top at an angle so they don’t shoot through.

Step Six – Installing Your Inexpensive Wood Shelf Brackets

No pressure but this is likely the most important step of the entire shelving project. Owning and using a level to assure a straight line is kind of necessary.

Farmhouse style simple wooden shelf brackets with baskets on the wooden shelves.

Installing your shelf & brackets

  • Start with the bottom shelf. When starting to install my shelving I actually started with my bottom shelf and did my top shelf last. Determining how far off the ground I wanted my first shelf. If you’re doing a shelf above a piece of furniture or further up the wall, the same logic applies.
  • Find Your Wall Studs. Find your studs and mark them with a pencil on the wall so they are clearly visible. If this works for the placement of your wooden shelf brackets, great, if not you may need to supplement with drywall anchors. Or other anchors depending on your wall material (masonry anchors, etc).
  • Measure and Mark. Measure from the ceiling or the floor for placement unless you have a laser level. Mark each spot you want to install a bracket, measuring in between for proper support placement.
  • Screw at an Angle. Installing the shelf brackets with this design means you will have to drive your screws in at a slight angle.
  • Install One Bracket First. After installing the first bracket I put my board up with the level on top and marked for the second bracket on the opposite end. Make sure the shelf is perfectly level, and mark it under the shelf with a pencil.
  • Attach the shelf to the brackets. You can install the shelves in two ways, through the top of the shelf or underneath the bottom of the shelf. Either way works fine. I just shot a few Brad nails through the shelf into the brackets.

Questions you may ask

There are several types of wall anchors, including:

  1. Plastic anchors
  2. Toggle bolts
  3. Molly bolts
  4. Winged plastic anchors
  5. Self-drilling drywall anchors
  6. Threaded drywall anchors
  7. Hollow wall anchors

The type of anchor you use will depend on the weight of the object being hung and the type of wall material.

The best way to install a shelf depends on the type of shelf and the type of wall. In general, the steps for installing a shelf include:

  1. Finding the wall studs or using appropriate wall anchors.
  2. Installing shelf brackets at the correct height and spacing.
  3. Placing the shelf on top of the brackets and securing it with screws or adhesive.
  4. Checking the level and making any necessary adjustments.

Without the use of a wall stud, you will need wall anchors to bear the weight of the shelf.


The best types of wood to use for shelf brackets are strong and sturdy hardwoods, such as oak, maple, cherry, or walnut. These woods are durable and can handle heavy weight loads without bending or warping over time.

Softwoods, such as pine or spruce, can also be used for shelf brackets but may require additional support, especially for heavy loads. It’s important to select wood that is straight, and free of knots and defects. Additionally, you can consider using reclaimed or salvaged wood for an eco-friendly and rustic touch.

Pine is one of the least expensive types of wood for a shelf bracket. It is readily available at most lumber yards and home improvement stores, and it is a softwood that is easy to work with using basic tools.

While it is not as durable as hardwoods and may require additional support for heavy loads, it can be a cost-effective option for smaller or lighter shelving projects.

Another option for inexpensive wood shelf brackets is to use scrap wood or reclaimed wood, which can be found for free or at a low cost.

Cut scrap wood to size, drill holes for screws, attach to wall studs, and mount shelf on top for easy and inexpensive DIY shelf brackets.

Some alternatives to using brackets for shelves include using floating shelf hardware, hidden cleats, or repurposed materials like pipes or ladders.

Wooden shelves can be made without brackets using a variety of methods such as using cleats, invisible brackets, or floating shelf hardware.

In Conclusion

My goal is always to try to do things as economically as possible, even if that means extra effort. You can save money without sacrificing quality, but it will cost you time. Luckily that is something most of us can find.

In conclusion, building your own wooden shelf brackets is an easy and affordable way to add functional and stylish storage to your home. With a little creativity and some basic woodworking skills, you can have beautiful and functional shelves that will add value to your home for years to come.

Thanks for stopping by!


Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→


    1. Thank you! There was a time when I was not so handy. I’m of the belief that anyone can do it if I can! I had zero power tool experience when I started, just a desire to learn!

  1. I believe I have a couple of similar brackets from Ikea, but you’re right – if you want a lot of them it would be much cheaper to make them yourself. Plus, you get the option to stain or paint them exactly how you want them. Thanks for inspiring us to do it ourselves!

  2. I am honestly so impressed by these brackets! I truly would have guessed that you bought them. When you look at the shelves from afar they almost look like iron brackets to me, but cozier. Well done!

  3. What a great post & very thorough! The shelf looks beautiful & I love the idea of making your own brackets! Very cool!

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