Thursday, November 13

How to DIY a Photo Gallery Ledge {For a lot less than buying them}

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I've had several people, online and in person, ask where we found our gallery shelves for our hallway. The short answer: We made them. I had looked at buying them and as many have found, they’re not cheap to buy: Upwards of $50 for nice looking ones. I headed over to Pinterest to see what I could find there for ideas. How to DIY a Photo Gallery Ledge {for a lot less than buying them} at

There were tons of plans for “$10 Gallery Ledges” but they were all very simple, and I have no idea how they actually were $10 each, because the materials alone were more than that….maybe the posts were old. I ended up spending about $50 for materials, which gave me 3 – 32” shelves {still pretty cheap at $16 and change each.

What did I need:

If you have a nail gun and finishing brads, awesome! If you don’t I would recommend using a power drill, small screws and a drill bit slightly smaller than your screws {always pre-drill your holes so you don’t split the wood}. If you don’t have either, see if you can borrow them, OR if you want to take things a little more chancy, just glue it with a strong wood adhesive and clamps {I don’t recommend just using glue though…the last thing you want is glass all over your floor}.

I ended up picking up 2 – 1/2”x 4”x 8’ board, 1– 1” x 8’ lattice trim, and 1 – 2” x 8’ molding.

I also picked up some Gorilla wood glue {which I love}, 150 grit sand paper, a disposable paint brush, and black semi-gloss paint.

If you’re in a Home Depot or Lowe’s they’ll very often cut your lumber for you {I’ve never had any luck finding someone though}. They do have the saw and miter box for you to cut your own lumber, which works too. I came home and used our chop saw {I had all 4 kids with me, alone!}.

I cut all the pieces 32” long (or 1/3 of 96”). I wanted to get the most pieces I could out of my wood, without things being too small or too big: 32” worked perfectly for the space I had in mind for my shelves. Do double check that your pieces are all the same length before cutting them down, if they’re not, make them the same length and refigure your width.

How to DIY a Photo Gallery Ledge {for a lot less than buying them} at

Once I had all my pieces cut and they were the same lengths, I took my sandpaper and just smoothed ALL the edges down a bit, not a ton, just enough to make them not sharp. This is really easy to do by hand, but I just had to use my handy-dandy new birthday present, which was AWESOME! How to DIY a Photo Gallery Ledge {for a lot less than buying them} at

I’ve wanted a sander for a really long time, and finally, with all the projects we have this year, I got one for my birthday! I may have been unusually excited about this…I have a thing for power tools, especially when they’re MINE! This thing is fantastic! It works well on small projects AND big projects! I used it to smooth out some of the flooring in our master bathroom.


Once all the pieces were sanded I grouped them together for each shelf, it just made it easier to focus on the project this way. Now remember you can make these shelves as simple or as fancy as you like, depending on the types of molding you use…take your time looking at pictures of gallery ledges and decide on how you want them to be put together. I wanted something a little more fancy, so mine have more pieces.

The first thing I did was {following the directions of your adhesive} glue the 2” molding to the bottom of a 1/2” x 4” board. I put glue only on the molding, then I made sure it was flush to the edges. We clamped it {you can use some heavy books to do this too} and let it dry.

While I waited for those to dry we took the other 1/2” x 4” boards and the 1” lattice and glued them together: The lattice trim to the short edge of the board {this is what’s going to keep things sliding off the shelf}. It isn’t really necessary to nail/screw this part, we did just to give it a bit extra stability.How to DIY a Photo Gallery Ledge {for a lot less than buying them} at

Now you have 2 pieces to your ledge: The back part with the fancy trim and the shelf part with the lattice. This part was a bit tricky and took an extra pair of hands. Using the Gorilla glue again we put glue on the narrow edge of the shelf piece and placed it just above the molding on the back piece, again making sure it’s all flush and nice. We did clamp this for a little while, it was tricky because of the varying heights of all the molding.

IMG_5239Once it was all dried {we left it for a couple of days, but the instructions say it’s dry in 2 hours} we flipped it over so all we could see was the back and very careful nailed a couple of brads through the back into the shelf pieces. This is definitely the part that I would screw or nail, because it’s what’s going to be keeping the whole thing together with all the weight on it.

Once it had all setup and dried nicely, I ran some sand paper over it one last time before painting it black. I did put some push pins on the back side so that I wouldn’t have to touch it when it was wet. I didn’t get crazy with painting the back either. I even missed some places in the front {Oops!}, but they’re not spots that people will see.

After that they were all done! They sat around for a few more days, until I made the kids help me get them on the wall {I need someone to hand me tools!}. I made sure that I found studs in the wall, marked a level line to follow on the way, and put 2 screws straight through the back part of the ledge into the wall. They’re not going anywhere. You do want to make sure you get a stud, so that they don’t rip out of the wall and come crashing to the ground in a heap of glass and memories.

Once they’re up, then comes the fun {or hard, depending on the kind of person you are} part…figuring out the placement of frames and pictures! I still have no pictures in my frames….maybe by Christmas.

How to DIY a Photo Gallery Ledge {for a lot less than buying them} at

Let me know if you make one and how it came out!

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