DIY open shelving and stock cabinets hold decor and books—and leave plenty of space for a wall-mounted television and other electronics.
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To adapt this project to the room of your choice, measure the space and adjust the length of the components to fit. Also, you can eliminate the desk for a simplified media wall. Read through these instructions before you start to customize the wall-mounting system and weight capacity of the shelves.
After measuring your wall and modifying the plans to fit your space, find the correct stock cabinets to purchase so they’ll extend from wall to wall. These come in 12-inch and 15-inch heights, and 30-inch and 36-inch widths. For our project we used four 36-in-wide cabinets.
To use cabinets to hide electronics, choose sizes that fit the components. For the electronics to dissipate heat, cut vent holes in the bottom of the cabinet. You can also leave the doors off so the components are exposed or rest them on the shelves.
From 3/4-inch-thick MDF and pine, cut the desk rails (A), cross rails (B), top (C), inside panel (D), outside panel (E), and panel cleat (F) to size (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram). The pine parts can be cut with a miter box and handsaw, a circular saw, or a miter saw. For the MDF, use a circular saw and straightedge or a table saw. Sand the parts with 120-grit sandpaper before assembly.
Glue the ends of the desk rails (A) (Project Diagram, Drawing 1), drill countersunk pilot holes for the flathead wood screws and screw the cross rails (B) to the desk rails.
Glue the assembled frame to the bottom face of the desk top. (The frame is narrower than the desk top to create a slight overhang at the front.)
Cut a notch at the back corner of the inside and outside desk panels (D, E) to fit around the baseboard in your room. (The notch does not need to be a perfect fit.)
Glue and clamp the panel cleat (F) flush with the back edge of the inside panel (D). Now glue and clamp the inside panel to the outside panel (E) with the back edges of the panels even. (An offset at the front edge matches the desk overhang.)
Set 1 x 2 boards aside for the cabinet rails (G) and cut the cabinet shelf (H) and filler shelf (I) to width (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). The filler shelf and cabinet rails will be cut to actual length later during the installation.
Cut the fixed shelves (J), support shelves (K), and the floating shelf (L) to width and length from MDF (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Cut the fixed rails (M), support rails (N), the floating rails (O), and the shelf cleats (P) from pine boards.
Glue and clamp the matching rails to the bottom faces of the shelves (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). One cleat is even with the back of the shelf -- the shelf cleats are used as spacers to position the front rail. The shelves and rails are the same length. When the glue dries, remove the clamps and add the shelf cleats (P) (Project Diagram, Drawing 5) to the fixed shelf and the support shelves.
Mix equal amounts of water and wood glue to make sizing. Brush the sizing on all exposed MDF edges. Fill any visible screw holes that were made for installing the desk with wood filler using a putty knife. When the sizing and putty are dry, lightly sand the parts.
Paint the desk components, the cabinet shelf parts, the cabinets, and the shelves. Prime each part, lightly sand with a fine-grit sanding sponge, then add two coats of paint.
The last few parts are the filler cleat (Q) and the face frame filler (R) (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram); these will be cut and painted during the installation (Project Diagram, Drawing 3).
There are optional wall brackets (S) for securing the shelf brackets to the wall (Project Diagram, Drawing 7 and Drawing 8); if you choose to use this method, cut the parts to length.
The capacities of the shelves are based on the way they are attached to the wall. The shelf brackets can be attached to the wall using hollow-wall anchors. The shelves are additionally reinforced by securing the back rails of each shelf to wall studs.
If you want the shelves to hold heavier items, the wall brackets (S) are required; they spread the load across a larger surface of the wall and provide more strength if the shelf brackets are not located over a stud.
Mark a line on the back wall 27-3/4 inches above the floor using a pencil and a level (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). This marks the top of the wall cabinets. Locate the wall studs using a electronic stud finder and mark their locations along the horizontal line. Mark the centerline of the wall and install the cabinets by driving 2-1/2-inch-long roundhead wood screws through the cabinet back into the wall studs.
Based on your room and your cabinets, the centerline could be the edge of a cabinet or the center of a cabinet.
At the end opposite the desk, attach the filler cleat (Q) to the wall. Cut the filler (R) to fit and nail the filler to the cleat and the edge of the cabinet.
To install the desk (Project Diagram, Drawing 1 and Drawing 2), place the desktop assembly on the cabinet against the walls and place the desk panel in position on the opposite end of the desk. Drive screws through the back desk rail (A) into a stud for support and through the cross rails (B) into the outside panel (E). The panel cleat (F) also needs to be screwed to the wall. A bead of construction adhesive on the back face of the panel cleat will reinforce the cleat/wall connection.
Cut the cabinet rails (G) to extend from the desk to the opposite wall (Project Diagram, Drawing 2) as they rest on the cabinets. Screw the back rail to the wall at the studs. Then screw the front rail to the top of the cabinet face frame.
Glue the cabinet shelf (H) to the rails with the left end against the desk top. Then cut the filler shelf (I) to fit between the end of the cabinet shelf and the wall, and glue it in place.
Determine what heights you want to mount the shelves and mark lines on the wall for the tops of the shelves (Project Diagram, Drawing 6). Screw through the back rails into the wall studs to fasten the fixed shelves and support shelves to the wall.
Place the brackets under the shelves, mark the screw hole locations on the wall and install hollow-wall anchors (Project Diagram, Drawing 7 and Drawing 8). If you are installing the optional wall brackets, screw them to hollow-wall anchors. (The shelf and wall brackets are designed to be centered under the shelf cleats (P) built into each shelf.)
Secure the brackets to the wall to support the front edges of the shelves and set the floating shelf on two support shelves where the shelf cleats extend from each end. You may need to cut the floating shelf to fit the space between the support shelves. Secure the floating shelf to the support shelves with 1-1/4-inch flathead screws. Then secure the back rail of the floating shelf to the wall studs.
Because the wall may not be perfectly straight, you may need to loosen the screws securing the support shelves to the wall to get the floating shelf to fit over the shelf cleats.
Drive the screws up through the shelf brackets to fasten them to the shelves (Project Diagram, Drawing 6).
Sand any cut edges that have been exposed and touch up the surfaces with paint. Along the wall at the top of the cabinet shelf, desk, and the desk panel, caulk the joint with an appropriate color to match the finish.