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Some good friends of mine have brand spanking new baby boy (I’m really excited for them) and they asked me if I would make them a floating shelf for his room to match a small end table that they had.

The piece I was trying to match was simple but sleek, using nice plywood with a dark blue painted inside, so I decided to make a floating cubby instead of a shelf. This would allow me to match the “painted inside” of the other piece. The problem with the cubby idea was that what normally makes a floating shelf “floating” would be exposed.

So, I took a page out of the cabinet hangers and workshop organizers and used a french cleat to hang the shelf on the wall. The painted inside actually help mask the fact that I had to add a back panel inside the cubby and I’m very happy with how it turned out.

I’m also just really happy to be able to give something to good friends who are blessed with a growing family!

I’ve got a digital plan available as well!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

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The back panel was a 10″ tall piece of 3/4″ birch plywood.


I cut down three pieces at 5″ wide for the shelf section.


Using those pieces as a guide, I set a stop block.


Then I cut two matching width pieces for the end caps of the cubby.


Then I set a stop block to cut off 1 1/2″ from the piece that would become the back panel. This is to help it fit inside the cubby.


I dry fit the pieces in place to test.


I marked along the bottom of the cubby so I wouldn’t cut below that line.


Then I cut out a large section that was behind the cubby.


I set my table saw blade to 45 degrees.


Then, using the cutout from above, I split it approximately in half.


One of these pieces got trimmed down to 20″ long, to become the wall cleat. The shorter length is to allow the shelf to slide back and forth on it.


I dry fit everything again and marked all joints with a line for adding biscuits.


I also set the remaining cleat on the underside of the top panel, and marked for biscuits.


Using a biscuit jointer, I added slots on all necessary pieces.


Marking all of the pieces ahead help make sure the biscuit slots line up.


I added glue to all of the slots and joint faces, then added biscuits into the slots.


All of the biscuit jointed panels were clamped together to dry.


The angle on the cleat made it hard to clamp, so I just glued it in place.


For biscuit jointing, you just have to line of the mark that you made, which should cross the joint.


The now cut out back panel got glued and screwed onto the back of the box.


With it flipped over, I added glue to the inside back surfaces.


Then I pushed in the back panel as far in as it would go.


I added some deep throat clamps to force the panel against the back to dry.


Using blue tape, I masked off the bottom front panel.


Also, I masked off the front faces of the cubby, trimming it to the edge with a sharp knife.


Using a 7 oz. color sample, I painted the front facing panel.


I also painted the inside of the cubby, covering all of it with two coats.


After it dried, I removed the tape and scraped away any paint that seeped under the tape, with a utility knife.


I covered the entire piece with two coats of PolyCrylic.


On the front panel, I marked the center point, then the center point of each end (splitting the face into quarters).


Then I laid out the coat hangers centered on my marks.


I predrilled the two holes on each hanger, so the screw wouldn’t drift when being screwed in.


Then all three hooks were screwed in place.


I predrilled three holes in the wall cleat, one in the center, two at 8″ from the center mark.


I screwed the cleat to the wall via the center hole, then leveled the cleat.


Holding it level, I added the two remaining screws.


Finally the shelf was hung onto the cleat, and adjusted laterally for placement.