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How to Make Decorative Home Shelves

There are many different ways to make decorative shelves at home. Most decorative shelving involves scroll saws or routers to create fancy finishes for the shelves. However, if you repurpose crown molding to make a shelf, all the decorative elements are already in place. The easiest way to make an eye-pleasing shelf from crown molding is to choose molding that sits at a 45-degrees from the wall. This will make a shelf around 3 to 4 inches wide, perfect for knickknacks and other ornaments.

Things You'll Need

  • Miter saw
  • Crown molding jig
  • Crown molding
  • Measuring tape
  • Carpenter’s glue
  • Brad nails
  • Hammer
  • Lumber, 1-by-4 inch
  • Rasp
  • Paint/varnish (optional)
  • Stud finder
  • Level
  • Drywall screws
  • Drill
  • Wood screws, 1 3/4 inch
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    • 1

      Set the miter saw to cut at a 45-degree angle. Sit the crown molding jig in the corner between the miter saw fence and the saw table, then place the molding over the jig. The jig is simply an angled piece of wood or metal that holds the molding in place as it would be on the wall. This allows for accurate angle cuts.

    • 2

      Cut the molding to the desired shelf length at 45 degrees on either end. The ends should angled inward. Sit the crown molding against a wall so that the top end is angled outward, and measure the distance between the wall and the top end of the molding – it should be between 3 to 4 inches, depending on the molding used.

    • 3

      Cut two lengths of molding to this length. One end of the molding should be cut at a 45-degree angle, and the other at 90 degrees. These small, wedge-shaped pieces of molding will mate with the angled ends of the longer piece of molding to form the corners of the shelf. Glue in place and let dry before attaching with brad nails through the glued joint.

    • 4

      Position the molding shelf against a wall again. Measure the space between the wall and the beginning of the molding, where the shelf top will sit, then cut this exact size out of a piece of 1- by 4-inch lumber. The 1- by 4-inch lumber won’t fit in the angled molding shelf as is, so rasp down the edges on one side until the piece slots in snugly to create a flat shelf top. Glue and nail in place with brad nails. The shelf is now complete and should have an opening at the back where it will sit against the wall. If you want to paint or varnish the shelf, now is the time.

    • 5

      Cut a second piece of 1- by 4-inch lumber that measures about an inch shorter and 1/2 inch thinner than the size of the opening at the back of the shelf. This will be the wall cleat from which you hang the shelf.

    • 6

      Find the wall studs where you want to hang the shelf, then position the cleat using the level to ensure an even plane across the wall. Secure the cleat to the wall by driving in drywall screws through the cleat into the wall where the studs are.

    • 7

      Slot the crown molding shelf over the cleat, centered. Screw in place with the wood screws through the top of the shelf into the cleat.