Have you ever thought to yourself, “It would be nice if I could hang a shelf or two in the window. All that natural light!” Or: “I need more acrylic in my life. Shelves? Could I make acrylic shelves?” Here’s some good news: You can DIY wall shelves, made out of acrylic, and hang them on the wall OR in the window. Such a classy, modern look in either situation. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to make them and hang them in the window, although you could easily switch the bracket direction for a simple wall installation.
- 3/4” acrylic sheeting, cut to size
- Right-angle brackets (four per shelf)
- Gold spray paint
- Level, drill, and various sizes of drill bits
To begin, you need to mark on the acrylic protection paper where you will drill the holes for your brackets. For wall installation, attach the brackets in conjunction with the placement of studs in your wall frame. For window installation, attach two brackets on each end of your shelf.
Mark these clearly and accurately. Acrylic is less forgiving than wood when it comes to drilling, so you want to be sure to hit the right spot with your drill bit the first time.
When you’re done marking all the holes you’ll need with your brackets, set them carefully in a well-ventilated area on top of a drop cloth. Lightly coat the brackets with gold spray paint.
Place the screws (be sure they are shorter than the thickness of your acrylic) on a paper plate, and lightly spray them as well. This will ensure that the screw heads are the same color as the brackets when you go to install them.
You will need to use three sizes of drill bits to create the correct size of hole for your bracket screws. Start pretty small, then choose the drill bit that matches the screw exactly, then choose one drill bit in between them.
Starting with a small drill bit, drill precisely perpendicular through the center of your hole marking. Also, use a steady hand and don’t let the drill bit “catch and pull” into the acrylic. Always be ready to pull the drill bit backward out of the hole if it starts to grab.
Take care not to drill all the way through your acrylic shelf, or you will have holes in the top of your shelf after installation. Remember, too, that the original drill bit will be quite a bit smaller than the actual screw size to attach the brackets.
Move up two or three sizes in drill bit, and drill into the same holes, making the diameter slightly bitter with the bigger drill bit. Acrylic is prone to cracking if you try to make a large hole out of the blue; however, it will form beautifully when you grow the hole incrementally.
Tip: To ensure that you don’t go all the way through the acrylic, measure the tip of your drill bit to be just shorter than the thickness of your acrylic, and place a piece of tape on the drill bit so the edge of the tape marks the maximum depth you can drill.
The acrylic and drill bit can get pretty hot when you drill. Be sure to remove the drill bit frequently during drilling, and get the acrylic shavings off the drill bit so it maximizes the drilling effectiveness. Repeat for the largest drill bit.
At this point, you should have all the holes drilled in through the underside of your DIY wall shelves, and they should be the exact size for your bracket screws.
The top side of your shelves will look untouched (hopefully?).
With the holes drilled into your acrylic, it’s time to remove the protective cover on the underside (drilled) side of the acrylic shelves.
Attach the brackets (when they are thoroughly dry) with the gold screws.
As you can see in this, spray painting the threads of the screws didn’t change much as far as gold coloring goes. But it makes a difference with the head color next to the bracket.
With the brackets attached to your DIY wall shelves, it’s time to mount the to the wall (or the window). Place them in your desired location, then ensure level.
Once they are level, mount your acrylic shelves with 2-1/2” wood screws (gold head preferred; paint them if you need).
At this point, you can remove the protective covering on the top of your acrylic shelves.
Aren’t they gorgeous?
Here’s a glimpse of your acrylic shelves in the window. They would look great as wall shelves as well, of course. Because clear.
One benefit of having acrylic shelves in the window is the abundance of natural light and the opportunity for plant life.
Being clear and transparent, acrylic shelves in the window maintain that visually lightweight look in a chic, modern way.
Keep the shelf décor minimal to let the shelves shine. When you order your custom-cut acrylic shelves, you can opt for a polished side edge. It is quite expensive, though, so be prepared to double or triple the cost of your acrylic if you choose to polish the edges.
This example did not polish the edges of the acrylic shelves, so they are slightly opaque. Polishing would look lovely, of course, but we are perfectly happy with this look as well.
When the bottom of your DIY wall shelves looks as beautiful as the front and top, you know you’ve stumbled upon a good thing.
We hope you enjoy this contemporary twist on DIY wall shelves, by using acrylic sheeting as a unique shelving material. Happy DIYing!
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