Adding book ledges to the nursery was one of my last projects to get our daughter’s room ready. My wife had a distinct vision of how she wanted the books displayed – we must have looked at hundreds of pictures of children’s book ledges. The key objectives were for them to be simple (so I could build them cheaply), white to match the trim and other features of her room, and be versatile so they looked good while she was an infant and are functional when she’s old enough to walk up and select some books before bed. We were really happy with how these turned out and they were done in a Saturday! My only regret is that we didn’t make them longer…we have too many books.
I can’t pretend to be a talented woodworker so the plans I came up with are quite simple. I’m confident if you are a little handy you can make these as well! To keep it simple, I used all stock materials that didn’t need to be cut or require many tools. I made three shelves, but here is what you need to build one:
- One x 1/2 in. x 4 in. x 4ft. board for the base (~$6.00)
- Two 1/2 in. x 2 in. x 4 ft. boards for front and back lips (~$2.50)
- Small box of finish nails
- Wood glue
- 120 grit sandpaper
- Two clamps – not necessary but very helpful
- Wood filler to fill your small nail holes – again not necessary but a nice touch
The beauty of these ledges is all the pieces are the correct dimensions and should be readily available. Be sure to pick out pieces that are straight and flat, though. We sifted through a lot of pieces that were warped and would have made the build a lot harder.
I found that while all the pieces were labeled as 48″ pieces, they were all off a little bit (1/4″ or less). While not necessary, I took the opportunity to trim everything to exactly 4 feet to make the ends flush. I also sanded the boards lightly and took a wood file to edges to round them over so they wouldn’t be sharp if some accidentally walked into one.
To attach the front lip, apply a bead of wood glue to the front surfaces of the ledge board. Use your finger to smear it around so that covers most of the surface. Use your clamps to hold the two glued boards together while you hammer in finish nails. Repeat the process to attached the back lip. Note that the back lip sits on top of the ledge. Push a little wood filler into your nail holes and sand smooth once it’s dry and you’re done! Ok, done building, you’ll probably still have to paint them. I used the same white trim paint that I used in the rest of the room for a perfect match.
Mounting your ledges can be a little tricky. In our case, I centered them on the wall and just screwed a 4″ wood screw to attach them to the studs behind the wall. The studs in your wall should be 16″ apart – find one and you’ll be able to locate the others pretty easily. Using this method I was able to attach the ledges to the studs in three places – plenty of support. I suppose you could attach the ledges using dry wall anchors, but that seemed a bit more challenging. One final tip: pre-drill the holes in the back ledge lip to avoid splitting the wood when your drill in the screw.
Done! Custom, homemade nursery book ledges for under $40!