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Build a picture ledge

  • Difficulty: hammer
    Close Difficulty
    Beginner Do-It-Yourselfer - Easy
    Intermediate Do-It-Yourselfer - Moderate
    Experienced Do-It-Yourselfer - Difficult
    Professional - Expert
  • Completion Time : 1 hour

A simple shelf with decorative moulding works wonders for displaying your favourite photos, art works and diplomas. Choose just the right spot in your living room, bedroom or office, and let your decor evolve as you vary your displays. This is a project that can be completed in a few hours.

This easy-to-build picture ledge measures 86"L x 2 ½"W. Its 1¼" groove will hold most types of frames. Finishing moulding makes all the difference, transforming a simple ledge into an attractive decorative element.


Tools and materials required


  • Table saw or circular saw with cutting guide

  • Screwdriver drill

  • Router

  • Countersink drill bit

  • Pneumatic nailer

  • Clamp

  • Level

  • Pencil

  • Tape measure


  • 1 sheet MDF, 5/8" x 48" x 96"

  • Chair rail, 1 ¼" x 96"

  • Finishing moulding, 1 ½" x 96"

  • 2 ½" screws

  • 18-gauge 1 ½" finishing nails, for nailer

  • Carpenter glue

  • Paint

Before Assembly


The router is a power tool equipped with a wide variety of cutters or bits, making it extremely versatile. There is a router bit for every type of woodworking project, from making mouldings to carving grooves (for inserting drawer bottoms or cabinet door panels), to giving a more professional-looking finish to the edges of pieces of stock (boards, shelves, tables), or planing surfaces and making dovetail joints. Router bits are often sold in sets and usually come with illustrations of the patterns that they can cut.

Depending on the router model and type of work involved, the user either moves the router along the fixed material (to follow curves) or moves the material itself along a fixed router table (to carve grooves). A number of routers are designed to be used either way and can be fastened upside down under a router table.

MDF is a versatile material that makes it easy to build strong, sturdy and affordable furniture. It is advisable to always glue the parts together with carpenter glue before fastening them with nails or screws. If additional pressure is needed, use clamps to hold pieces together while the glue dries.

Screw fastening
Always drill pilot holes using a countersink bit with pieces in their final assembled position; this will prevent the MDF from buckling or splitting under the torque of the screws. The countersink bit makes it possible to bore a hole for the body of the screw as well as a cavity to conceal the screw head. You may use a screwdriver drill to insert the screws, but it is advisable to finish tightening the screws with a manual screwdriver to avoid damaging the MDF and weakening the screw’s grip due to the drill’s increased strength and speed.

Nail fastening
It is better to use finishing nails for some projects. Using a pneumatic nailer will get the job done more quickly and easily, and the nails will hardly show.

Always wear a protective mask when cutting or sanding MDF as the dust can be irritating and is a potential health hazard. Work outside if you can; if this is not possible, close any air vents and doors leading to other rooms so as to prevent the dust from spreading. Open a window while you work and cover all items in the room with dust sheets. Vacuum when you have finished cutting.


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Picture ledge in the living-room
Build a picture ledge