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If you are a fan of our easy woodworking projects series – and who wouldn’t be a fan of free project plans – then I hope you have discovered the latest edition, “How to Build a Shelf.” I chose the content for this PDF specifically for the contemporary, nearly bookless life. Even if you don’t own a personal library in hardcopy format, you still need to know how to build shelves. That’s because building shelves is one of those woodworking skills that never goes out of style, especially in households where there is at least one knick-knack collector.

The PDF includes two plans for what are sometimes called floating shelves. These are pretty stylish, and the construction is super interesting in both cases. I’m going to try the “Magic Shelves” myself pretty soon. It’s a design that, to my eye, has stood the test of time.

Today I want to make sure you have two more freebie shelf plans, if you have not already found them on our website. One is Shaker style and one is English period style. In the English piece, Megan Fitzpatrick details all the tools and steps, including a quick way to create a distressed look for the finish. Fun stuff. The Shaker shelves plan is just as easy and detailed (like all of our “I Can Do That” projects), with an even simpler finish.

Click on the image for your "Hanging Shelves" plan.

Click on the image for your “Hanging Shelves” plan.

Click on the image for your free "Shaker Shelves" plan.

Click on the image for your free “Shaker Shelves” plan.

Finally, I want to point you to two contemporary-style shelf plans that are very nearly free. We have a Chris Schwarz plan in our store for just $1.99 that I like. It is actually a combination shelf and computer desk. But what is really neat about this is the way Chris used the Popular Woodworking design software to develop this plan from just one sheet of plywood and a few board feet of dimensional lumber. So it’s a plan that is optimized for today’s lifestyle, and also for your budget.

Click on the image to visit the store for this plan.

Click on the image to visit the store for this plan.


The other “nearly free” shelf plan is Bob Lang’s “Contemporary Shelves.” (And it is, in fact, totally gratis if you are a whiz with SketchUp. Just download the 3D model by clicking here.)

Click on the image to visit the store for this plan.

Click on the image to visit the store for this plan.


We hope you’re enjoying the way Popular Woodworking connects the history of our craft to the present and future. We also hope you’re buying hardcopy books, by the way, but fully understand if you have moved more into the digital realm. If so, enjoy these contemporary shelf plans, and forward this article to your woodworking (or interested-in-woodworking) friends!

Dan Farnbach

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Showing 4 comments
  • John Hutchinson

    Not sure if I’ll ever build the project, but the drawings for Shaker Shelves are MAGNIFICENT!!! The woodworking’s not bad either. 🙂

  • Demetria3

    I really love the design of Bob Lang’s Contemporary Shelves. They are very open & airy.

  • ezpapio

    great idea.

  • bmaddaford

    Nice can’t wait to give this a ty

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