Hey you there, at the computer, want to make this awesome walnut floating shelf sink vanity with a vessel sink? Or want to know how to make it so you can impress others with your DIY knowledge at your next cocktail party? Or just want to know how we built this thing as part of our guest bath re-do? Then this is the tutorial for you.
There are lots of ways to do this, but I’ll tell you mine. And that’s not to say you should do as I do, but rather be informed and decide which crazy ideas to accept and which to reject. Off we go.
Shelf Dimensions and Wood Purchase
First up, figure out how big you want your shelf to be. I wanted mine to be a little bigger than my vessel sink. I figured the width would be about 25 inches wide by about 20 inches deep, so needed a length of wood that I could piece together to create that size of shelf. I bought a piece of walnut that was almost an inch and a half thick, a little over 7 inches wide and about 7 feet long, so I could cut it into thirds and then piece it together to create the shelf.
Build Your Shelf
Short version of how to do this: cut it, glue it, clamp it, sand it, cut holes in it.
I cut my board into three pieces. I did not cut the board width, which already was a little over 7″ wide. I made the other cuts at 25.5″ long.
I did some sanding of the edges to be joined and then test fit them together. Wood isn’t perfect, so you may have to fool around with this a bit (not that kind of fooling around) until you get everything to match up how you want it. And do a lot more sanding or a little trimming (table saw) if necessary.
- Once you have your pieces together, whip out your wood glue and apply glue to the edges to be joined. Make sure the edges are perfectly aligned. Aim for perfection at this point if no other!
- Then clamp them. I used these 24″ bar clamps, which worked great.
Glue will make your shelf very sturdy and you don’t need to do anything else. But if this makes you nervous, you can use your Kreg Jig to join the boards together (I might have tried this but didn’t own one at the time, although now I do and love it).
- Then sand like a lunatic. I am serious. You want to sand this thing until it is as smooth as your grandpa’s billiard ball bald head. Sadly, the below late night pic does not do the smooth surface justice.
- Then cut your holes for your faucet and your drain. I had a single-hole faucet, but you may need two extra holes if you have a widespread faucet. Or you may not need any faucet holes if you are mounting your faucet to the wall. Use a wood cutting hole saw (a piece that attaches to your drill), center it, and cut to your faucet/drain specs Note: different size holes = different hole saws.
You are putting this in your bathroom, so it must be impervious to water damage. Okay, nothing is impervious but you want to get it super sealed. I did a ton of research and ended up choosing Waterlox. I have no affiliation with the company, it is just plain awesome. It comes in various finishes, so just go with whatever suits your fancy. I did the Waterlox original finish. One quart was way more than I needed.
Read the Waterlox directions several times and then follow them exactly.
The basics are just to apply once every 24 hours for several days so that you end up with 5-6 coats of Waterlox on your shelf.
Apply to the top and bottom and all sides. Really any exposed surface. I applied mine to all 6 sides plus the insides of each hole.
I used foam brushes, and a new one for each application. They worked great and I wouldn’t use anything else.
I also applied this stuff outdoors because it is pretty noxious.
After your last coat of Waterlox, you will be so glad you used the good stuff. Look how it really brings out the wood grain of the walnut. And despite kiddo usage and lots of water splashing, we have no water spots to speak of. Or that we don’t speak of. Just no water spots.
If you really want your wood shelf to float, you don’t want to see your brackets underneath. There are a number of ways you can accomplish this, but I ended up going with these hidden brackets.
This is especially the part where you may not want to follow what we did as it is against the product’s recommendations. Because the bracket does not have a support piece between the horizontal and vertial section, the horizontal section can flex downward. It is recommended to use this bracket for counter overhangs, not free-floating shelves. But our shelf has been up for a while and we’ve had absolutely no problem with this. We also don’t sit on the shelf, which helps. Here’s how to install it.
- Order brackets to fit the size or your shelf. We got two 18″ brackets for our 21.5″ x 25.5″ shelf.
- The first thing is to paint your brackets. These are raw steel so we painted them (just gray primer) to prevent any rusting.
Then determine the height you want your brackets. Take into account the top of your vessel sink, the thickness of your shelf, and also how low your shelf will be too. The top of our shelf is 34 inches off the ground and the top of the vessel sink is about 4.5 to 5 inches above that. Adjust yours if you want something taller or shorter.
- Next open your wall or, if it is already open (like ours) attach your brackets to studs in the wall using lag screws. If you don’t have a stud in the place you want it, create your own by putting a 2×4 into your open wall and adhering it to other studs with wood glue and nails/screws.
- In this pic you can kind of see our brackets attached to our newly installed 2x4s (the arrows might help).
- When installing, make sure your horizontal pieces are level. You may need to shim out your vertical pieces to do this.
- Then add back your wall covering. This can be drywall if you are painting but in our case it was cement backerboard for our future tile. Just cut holes for the brackets (and plumbing) and slide into place. It looks like this:
Then adhere your shelf to your brackets. We used Liquid Nails. Actually, we first added a shim piece in between the bracket and the shelf (due to me mis-measuring my mirror so we needed another 1/4″ or so of height to the shelf).
- Then paint your bracket underneath if you really want it to blend. We painted ours brown to match the wood.
- Then install your sink and faucet, hook up your plumbing, and that’s it.
- Oh, and to make this even better, get yourself a sexy, modern p-trap like this. You’ve gone to all this work, so don’t get lazy and use an ugly p-trap – the details will make it.
So, anyone else totally rely on some directions (Waterlox) and ignore others (brackets) for the same project? Or perhaps consider a p-trap to be like the “jewelry” of your bathroom, you know, like how some people describe knobs on cabinets? I think that my p-trap/jewelry comparison may be a first. Happy building!