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Leaning Shelf

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Use this easy-to-build display shelf to hold books, magazines, CDs and DVDs.

Five-tier oak shelf leaning against a wall.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 day

Estimated Cost


Tools and Materials


  • Table saw or miter saw
  • Clamps
  • Drill and bits
  • Screwdriver or screwdriving bits
  • Electric sander and sandpaper
  • Tape measure


  • 4 1" x 12" x 6' red oak board (#1068)
  • 2 8-packs of #8 x 1-1/2 flathead wood screws (#57234)
  • Titebond wood glue (#86092)
  • Satin polyurethane (#45862)

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Project Resources


Cut the Individual Shelves

Step 1

From one 1" x 12" x 6' oak board, cut three shelf pieces (A) 23" long. From another oak board, cut one 23"-long piece and two 12"-long shelf pieces. Glue, stack, and clamp two pairs of 23" boards and two 12" boards, keeping the edges flush. Save the rest of the second board for later.

Step 2

After the glued pieces dry, trim one end square and cut two 11"-long shelves from each glued pair of 23" boards. Then cut the fifth shelf from the 12" pair of boards. Sand both faces of each shelf WITH 120-grit and then 180-grit sandpaper. Then sand the edges and one end carefully to avoid creating an angle. (Other boards will hide the unsanded end.)

Good to Know

If you wait to sand these parts, they may not properly fit the slots you'll create for them on the vertical part of the shelf.

Step 3

From the leftover part of the second board, cut one 8"-long piece and set aside the remaining part of the board. From the third 1" x 12" x 6' oak board, cut four 12"-long pieces.

Assemble the Shelves

Step 1

Lay one 1" x 12" x 6' oak board on a flat surface where you can attach clamps to it. Glue and clamp the 8"-long board at the top with the ends flush.

Step 2

Hold a shelf in position while you slide a glued 12" board tightly against it and clamp the 12" board in place. Remove the shelf and wipe off any excess glue. Repeat three more times.

Step 3

As you hold the bottom shelf in position and slide the leftover portion of the second board against it, mark it at the bottom edge of the long oak board. Cut the short upper board to length. Then glue and clamp the upper board in place. Sand the vertical portion of the shelf up to 180 grit on all faces and outside edges.

Step 4

One by one, glue and clamp shelves in the grooves you created earlier, keeping all the edges flush. After the glue dries, finish sand the edges. Then drill countersunk pilot holes and drive 1-1/2" screws to reinforce the joints.

Step 5

detail view of leaning shelf
Completed leaning shelf

Wipe the shelf clean and apply two coats of satin polyurethane finish, sanding between coats. Stand the shelf so the bottom end is far enough from the wall to keep the shelf stable after you finish loading it.

Good to Know

Good to Know: To keep the shelf from sliding on hard-surface floors, add three bumpers (#55659) to the bottom to help hold it in position.