Secret Floating Shelf

I recently designed a floating shelf for Whitney from Shanty2Chic and it had me thinking about all that wasted space inside the floating shelf. Then the light bulb went off! A false bottom with hidden storage! That was it! So off to the drawing board I went. After a few hiccups, this is what I came up with. And, believe it or not, I built it for about $30!

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Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Rogue Engineer | Pinterest

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Rogue Engineer

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Rogue Engineer

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Rogue Engineer

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Rogue Engineer

Disclosure: The links provided in the “materials” and “required tools” sections are affiliate links. If you would like to support our site and help keep our content free come find out more about how we can make money with no extra cost to you.


Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Dimensions

Cut List

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Cut List

Secret Shelf Plans

If you decide to take on this project I highly recommend you download the printable PDF below to have with you during the build. To do so just click the button below and subscribe to get weekly updates. In return I’ll instantly email you the PDF for free! It’s a win-win.

Download Printable PDF

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 1

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 1

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 2

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 2

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 2

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 2


We decided to finish our secret shelf with Kona wood stain from Varathane.

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Finishing

Our little helper!

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Finishing

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Finishing

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 3

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 3

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 3

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 3

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 4

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Step 4


First, find the perfect spot for your new secret shelf and then mark a level line at the height you would like to mount it. Next, use a stud finder to locate and mark two studs. Mount the secret shelf using two 2-1/2″ wood screws per stud.

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Laser Level

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Laser Level

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Laser Level

Mark a level line.

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Stud Finder

Search for two studs…

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Stud Finder

.. there’s one!

Secret Shelf | Free Plans | Mounting

Attach with two 2-1/2″ wood screws in each stud.

Questions? Comments?

As always, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment below and especially don’t forget to post pictures of your finished products in the comments! ENJOY!

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  • Brett

    The PDF download button doesn’t open the plans. How far in from the edge do you place the support arms?

    • Hey Brett I’ve updated the link for the printable PDF. The dimensions for locating the support arms are shown in step 4.

      • Brett

        Thanks for the reply. The support arms I was referring to were the ones you mentioned in Step 2 (not the friction hinges in step 4). Is it safe to assume that the support arms in Step 2 can be placed the width of the 1×4 that you used on the sides of the false bottom?

        • Got it. Good catch. I’m pretty sure it’s 1″ but I’ll confirm and add the dimension tonight. Really you just need enough room for the friction hinge.

  • Drew

    Have you thought about adding a hidden lock? I have actually been thinking of something similar to this and some other furniture pieces along the same principle for gun storage throughout my home for protection

    • Drew, I actually bought a Tot-Lok (Magnetic Lock) and it was such a pain to align it just right since this is not a standard installation (so their template doesn’t work) that I decided not to use it. That being said I think it could work I just didn’t have the patience that evening and I’m not actually going to store guns in here so locking wasn’t a necessity.

      • Drew

        Alright I understand that. When I get my plans done with a hidden lock i will send them to you if you are interested. I do mine in Inventor though, I think i noticed somewhere that you are an engineer by day, so would you have the ability to open up an Inventor or Autocad DWG file? Im a CAD Designer/ Draftsman and just spend more time in inventor then i do sketchup.

        • Sweet. That would be awesome Drew! The best file format for me would be a .step file. I think inventor has those capabilities. Thanks man.

          • Drew

            No problem! I can send a step file easily. As soon as I get my plans done I will share them with you. Thanks!

          • Drew

            Hey Jamison,
            I havent had the chance to completely model my plans for the Locking secret shelf just havent had the chance to finish it yet. But my idea was to use a false panel in either the front or the side that hinged on barrel hinges like these,, and use that to hide the lock. But the other day I came across this magnetic lock,, that i think would be able to be used in your existing design easily. I apologize ahead of time if those links arent allowed on here but I am in no way receiving any compensation from Rockler, just thought that you and others would find this info helpful. Thanks!

          • Drew

            Never mind I see now in another comment that you already had the Tot-Lock. Well hopefully the false panel idea hinging on the barrel hinges will help as well.

        • Thanks for sharing Drew, those barrel hinges would be nice for sure and the Tot Lok is what I would suggest as well.

  • Lisa Alkire

    Love this plan and would also love a way to add a secret lock. I noticed another comment asking the same thing and hope you have one to share! Thank you!

    • I actually bought a Tot-Lok (Magnetic Lock) and it was such a pain to align it just right since this is not a standard installation (so their template doesn’t work) that I decided not to use it. That being said I think it could work and this would be the lock to do it.

  • Trevor

    When it opens does the back of the false bottom hit the wall? The corners look to hit the wall.

    • It doesn’t hit the wall Trevor. With the hinge point positioned where it is, the corner you are referring to swings up and away from the wall.

  • Hunter

    I have seen a couple of retail models of this (, but it is always great to see a DIY version at a reasonable price. I had a question though, can you see the hinge from underneath the shelf? I’m not sure what the necessary clearance is with piano hinge, but I guess that there should be at least a 1/16 inch gap between the wall. I was thinking about a similar shelf using a four bar mechanism (I’m an engineer too). There was an article over at the family handyman where they designed a shelf with similar dimensions using such a mechanism ( You would have to use a piston damper instead of a friction hinge, but you would get effectively no gap between the wall and shelf. I would like to see if you could make that work. Thanks for the post

    • Thanks Hunter. You can barely make out the hinge from the bottom. I have my shelf mounted below eye level so you can’t see it unless you duck down. And this could always be camouflaged by spray painting the hinge to match the shelf. The bottom is ripped down to accept the hinge which is 1/8″ and the sides butt up to the wall so there is little to no gap there. The hinge point location causes this lower back comer of the sides to swing away from the wall. The four bar mechanism would work as well, if you end up going that route be sure to post a picture. I’d like to see how it turns out. I will say I tried to use a piston dampener and the friction hinge proved to be the simplest design.

      • What are the actual dimensions. I’m trying to build this out of ply wood and it’s not working

        • Yea this is built using nomial lumber so 1x4s are actually 3/4″ x 3-1/2″ and 1x10s are 3/4″ x 9-1/4″.

          • Thanks. I built it. And used the magnetic lock. I just have to paint it now. And make a couple more.

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  • What are the actual deminsion. I’m trying to build this out of plywood and it’s not working

    • Yea this is built using nomial lumber so 1x4s are actually 3/4″ x 3-1/2″ and 1x10s are 3/4″ x 9-1/4″.

  • Daniel Torres

    Did you think about using flush mount hidden hinges at all? The type cabinet makers use to move their cabinet doors out away from the face of the cabinets. I’m having mental blocks on the mechanics of them, but I believe they would work without binding and without needing the gap.

  • How would you expand your plans for the 31-5/8″ up to a 48″ length? I am building a set of (3) secret floating shelves, with the first shelf at your current plans dimensions, another at 4ft length, and finally a shelf that spans 6th in length. I was contemplating if I need to add additional wooden supports, which would act as dividers. Thank you

    • Hey Mike, I would say to not worry about the extra support unless you’re carrying a lot of weight on the shelf. You can always add it later if you notice it start to sag.

  • Miceious

    Thanks for posting this for free and giving detailed instuctions. I would like to see some more concealment projects from you.

    • No problem Miceious, and I’m right there with you. I really like stuff like this too!

  • Hello!

    Thank you for the clear, easy to build plans!

    What is the device that you are using to mark your level on the wall? It looks like an iPhone with something plugged in?


    • Hey Mark, it’s the Ryobi Phone Works laser level.

  • Luca

    Great work.
    Unfortunately i’m not used to your metric system and i’m not sure about your size.
    Does 9 -1/8 ” stands for 231mm or 225 mm?

    • Thanks Luca, 9-1/8 inches converts to 231.775 mm. Good luck!

  • Travis

    What kind of level and stud finder were you using?

  • Trent

    Hello on the piano hinge is it 1/16 gap between the two shelfs or from the edge of the one?

    • The hinge is flush with the bottom shelf and has a 1/16″ gap from the side of the upper shelf. This also leave a 1/16″ between each shelf.

  • Jon

    Love this plan! I’m having a real tough time with the friction hinges. The rounded tip of the arm is hitting the bottom shelf. I’ve tried raising the mount, but no joy. Any tips?

    • Hey Jon, Sorry you’re having such a hard time with this. You should be able to adjust the mount at one of the two points to make it work. The measurements that i provided in the plans worked for me.

  • Moody Moss

    LOVE THIS! Love all your projects with details please keep them coming maybe more pallet projects 🙂

  • Brandon Main

    What size friction hinge did you use? I only can seem to find 5″ at the local hardware storeso I just wanted to make sure I had the right hinge.


    • Yes I used a 5″‘ friction hinge.

      • Brandon Main

        Thanks. I just found your site and want to applaud you on how well it is put together. I have recently started to get back into wood working with my 13 yr old daughter as she is showing an interest and your site will definitely keep us busy!!! Thanks again

        • Awesome man! I am so glad you found us. How cool of your daughter to get into woodworking. My son is 4 and my daughter is 1, they both seem to enjoy learning how to use tools. My son even draws his own table plans! ha! Happy building and if you ever run into any questions just shoot me a message.

  • Lakyn

    I’m having a real difficult time trying to figure out how to adjust the friction lid supports. I don’t know how to adjust them to hold the shelf closed. Any tips?

    • Hey Lakyn, You can adjust the screw at the hinge joint to make it tight enough that the drawer won’t move on it’s own but just requires a little force to do so. If you’re not having any luck with that you can try added a magnetic catch to help keep the bottom up.

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  • Linda

    I was going to make this for my hubby, but he ended up doing it since I was working on another project. He did a fantastic job and it is now hanging in our bedroom. He LOVES secret hiding places for around the home! Thank you for sharing the plans for this cool idea!

  • Thanks so much for sharing this. I really want to do this – I see alot of the expensive versions of this have a gas strut to assist with lowering the shelf. I have searched high and low – and hints on where i could look and what i should be looking for? Again – this project rocks – great work!

    • Thanks Tyson, try looking for a RV cabinet door support. When I was researching it that was what I though might work.

    • Mark Miklaucic

      Check out They have all different kinds of gas struts. Although they can be a bit pricey.

  • Joshua

    how do the corners of the false bottom not hit tge wall when opening and push it away from the wall?

    • With the hinge point positioned where it is, the corners you are referring to swings up and away from the wall.

  • Jadynn

    Thank you so much for sharing! My grandma has been wanting one of these for about a year now and I am making one in shop class for her! Absolutely love it!!!

  • Gary

    I have a quick question about your hidden shelf plans….
    I am making my shelf from Red Oak boards. Not the pine that you used so in your cut list you say to “Rip 1/8 in. off with the table saw”. on the 30 1/8 in. board. Then on the plans you show that board to be 9 1/8 in wide after you cut off 1/8in.? Shouldn’t that measurement be 9 7/8 in. instead? l FYI- mine are the full dimension 1 in. thick x 4in. wide x 30 1/8 in. long..

    Thanks: Gary

    • Sorry I should have been more clear Gary. I used dimensional lumber in the plans so the 1×10 is actually 3/4″ x 9-1/4″ and the 1×4 is actually 3/4″ x 3-1/2″. Sorry about the confusion.

      • Brett R

        Could you still use the measurements that are in the graph above?

    • Reattaching photo that was removed

      • Conor Kerrisk

        so is the piece the u rip 1/8 off meant to be 9 7/8

  • Brian

    Great looking plans. I’ve been looking into building some of these for my self and a couple of friends/family members. One question for ya though. Have you done any with molding instead of the 1×4’s? at least for the sides and front of the drop down part?

    • I haven’t but that is a good idea. I’d love to see how it turns out.

  • Malcolm

    The plans call for lumber in 1×4 dimensions but the lumber in home improvement stores don’t come in 1×4, they are usually 3/4 x 3 1/2 inches. Do you recommend purchasing the next width up and then sizing the piece to the 1×4 or just use the milled dimension. Thanks.

    • The lumber I call for is dimensional lumber so actual dimensions for the 1×4 are 3/4 x 3-1/2 and that is what should be used.

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  • Dustin

    So thanks for these plans! I am in the process of building 2 of these now, the only difference is mine are 42″ long. I used piano hinges that were one foot and two feet. Fits perfectly I will post more pics when I finish up. Thanks again for the plans!

    • Chris

      Dustin, I want to make a bigger shelf, did you just add 12 more inches to the boards?

      • Dustin

        Yes sir! I made the boards longer kept everything else the same

        • Chris

          Thank you sir

    • tompinva

      How do you latch it up, in closed position?

  • That is awesome man! Can’t wait to see it finished up.

  • Dustin

    Done! They look great

    • That really does look amazing! Really great work man.

  • Don Bolthouse

    Nice job on the plans. I’ve been looking for something like this for a while. I added a top and some trim for a more traditional look. Thanks!

    • That really turned out great Don! Nice mods. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Nick

    What size friction lid support do you use?

    • 5″.. Links can be found in the materials sections.

  • Gustavo

    Without a table saw how do I shave 1/8″ off or adjust the plan to not have to shave 1/8″ off the wood?

    • You could try drawing a line and sanding down to it or clamping a board and running a circular saw down it to cut off 1/8″.

      • Gustavo

        Would a router table work with the right bit?

  • Chris Fields

    Any issues with the drop down shelf gouging the wall when opened?

    • Not at all. It pulls away from the wall when opened.

  • Paul Roberts

    hello I would like to know how to you install the piano hinge on the back side with out seeing it from under the box

  • Paul Roberts

    hello one question have how do you hide the piano hinge from under the box so it can not be seen

    • Hey Paul, the piano hinge is barely visible from the bottom. If you didn’t want it showing at all you would probably need to go with another hinge.

  • Shawn

    What about a magnet lock in the front would that work. Also what do you think of using small gas struts instead of the friction hinge. They hold a lot of weight and cheap. Just looking at more ideas that might work

    • Yea, those are both good options. I was having trouble find a gas strut short enough and I actually tried the magnetic lock but positioning it just right was a royal pain.

      • Sebastian Gonzalez

        Instead of a magnetic lock, you could always go the route of neodymium magnets and a flat metal plate. Or use dowel pins to line up your hole for your round magnet. (Drill a hole, insert a dowel pin and close the shelf. It’ll leave a mark on the other piece, and you can drill a perfectly lined up hole for your other magnet to sit in.) Then just make sure your magnets are expoxied in with the polarity in the right direction, and Bob’s your uncle.

  • Bill D

    This project is awesome! The plans were great with a few bumps, but I got it all figured out. Would love to hear if anyone found a decent gas shock that works and fits. Thanks for posting all of these great plans, I have the lumber for the Hope Chest for my boy coming soon.

    • Jack Howe

      A buddy and I ordered some but they came from Japan. Still waiting. But I did find some

  • Shaun Stoneking

    Has anyone figured an easy way to lock this project with magnets? I have kids and would love to have this as a gun storage solution!

    • There is a magnetic lock called the top lock, however its not really easy to install.

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  • Thomas Mahoney

    Looks great over my couch. Thanks for the plans.
    I included before and after pictures so you can see how big of a difference the shelves make in my living room.

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  • Katie

    I should have looked at the comments before I started building my 10″ boards are 1/4″ short. The lumber I bought was 9 1/2 not 9 1/4. Guess I’ll be doing more ripping :/ Love the plans. I’m just rushing a little the wood for the shelves has been in my garage for about 6 m and this is my last day to finish before school.

  • Gabriela Rodriguez

    Really love the secret shelf plans but I have none of the tools to make this? Have you considered selling built already? Like on Etsy? I would love to purchase in select sizes.

  • Thung rac

    Hi, please tell me what apps & tools you use to find the studs, laser level, etc… I’m a Mom who loves these kind of stuff

  • Jake

    I was just wondering how much depth is inside. I’m thinking 2.25″ but not sure

  • Stu

    Hey there….did any of you put like a magnetic lock or anything on yours? If so, how did you attach it?

  • Charles Means

    Thanx for the plans and ideas

    increased the depth to handle Blu-ray player and DTV receiver on top. Opted for dowels (had to play with new DowelMax) instead of pocket holes for most

  • Brian Leiker

    I made these to specs and I cant get the piano hinge to work properly. It doesnt close as shown in pics and when I move ot to a different location it sits a quarter inch to high in the back when closed. Both ways dont work. What the hell am I doing wrong?

  • jessicatownsend2

    Wow! THANK YOU! Thank you for the plans and just so everyone else knows, there is a link for a donation for the plans as well as links that support future free plans… just putting that out there. I built this shelf for myself (having never built anything). The plans are easy to follow, everything went great and now I have a secret place to stash certain items. I wasn’t sure about the piano hinge 1/16″ gap either, (wether it was a gap between the backs of the shelves or from the ends) so I put a couple of screws in to hold it in place and tried it out, works like a charm! (From the backs of the shelves folks…. between the shelves. I got a magnetic cabinet lock to hold it closed after reading the comments but didn’t need it, I adjusted the friction hinges and it’s perfect. It took me about three hours to complete the build and now I’m deciding wether to stain or paint my new shelf! I couldn’t be happier with this and want to thank you for the time and effort you put into the plans and posting them for everyone. I am grateful and extremely thankful! It is so kind for you to share your expertise!

  • Col Williams

    I cannot figure out how to install the piano hinge. Does the hinge stick out on the bottom of the finished shelf? Is it possible to see some close up pictures of the installed hinge? My shelf fits together fine until I try to add the hinge.

  • Sam Dowd

    What size friction hinge do you use. I have gotten all the way to the end and after attaching the friction hinge it hits the front of the shelf when I try to close it. Any thoughts? Any friction hinge I’ve found at Lowe’s or Home Depot is 5″. Not even sure if there are sizes for them. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. Any help would be great!

  • James

    So I’ve built my shelf and it is hinge bound and seems I can’t get it adjusted to close flush without applying pressure…I was thinking maybe using cabinet door hinges instead to have the adjustability…any thoughts?

  • Jordan Graeff

    I’m having a difficult time with the friction lid supports. I find when I attach them with the measurements that’s the support is not straight and tends to bend them. I looked closely at your pics and it looks like you also have a small gap on the right sidebar between top and side when it closes. Any thoughts? Other than that he build went very smoothly

  • Rick Hanson

    I made my shelf to your literal dimensions by buying a 1×12 and ripping it. I used tightbond to glue it. I’ve made one to your dimensions and using a 12″ piano hinge

  • Kelli Hart

    I’m planning to make of few of these and from the photos I’m concerned that the back corner will damage the wall when being opened and closed. For anyone that has made one, was this a problem?