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Leaning Bathroom Ladder Shelf

  • August 8, 2016

Ana White
Ana White
Ana White
Ana White

This beautiful wood leaning ladder shelf designed to fit over the toilet is perfect for adding storage without having to drill holes in the wall. It’s easy to make with off the shelf lumber and just a few basic power tools. Add that farmhouse look to your bath in just a couple of hours.

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  1. Project Steps

    1. Step: 1

      Cutting and Layout Cut wood according to cut list. Layout the shelves first, each shelf will have a back and two sides, matching the width of the shelf. Cut List: 2 – 2x3 @ 72” (can also use 1x3 or 2x4 if 2x3s cannot be sourced) – both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, long point to short point, ends are parallel 1 – 1x10 @ 24” 1 – 1x8 @ 24” 1 – 1x6 @ 24” 3 – 1x3 @ 24” 2 – 1x3 @ 10” 2 – 1x3 @ 8” 2 – 1x3 @ 6-1/4”

    2. Step: 2

      Shelf Assembly Glue and nail back to shelves with 1-1/4” brad nails using 18 gauge AirStrike brad nailer. Then attach sides to both bottom and back.

    3. Step: 3

      Additional Shelves Repeat for remaining two shelves. TIP: Round outside top corners off shelf sides to prevent sharp edges.

    4. Step: 4

      Top Ends of Legs Use a square to mark back top edges of legs perpendicular to top 10 degree cut, so 6” is cut off at back side. Cut with circular saw

    5. Step: 5

      Sanding Sand legs and all shelves with sander, using medium grit sandpaper.

    6. Step: 6

      Assembly Mark legs 37” up on inside from bottom, on both front and back. Lean legs against level wall, ensuring legs are placed evenly out from wall. Clamp scrap wood under marks on insides.

    7. Step: 7

      Shelves Set largest shelf on top of the clamped blocks. Adjust as necessary, making sure the shelves are evenly placed on legs. Attach shelf to legs with 1-1/4” wood screws. Cut two scrap wood blocks 10” long. Place on bottom shelf. Set next shelf on top. Screw to legs. Repeat for all three shelves.

    8. Step: 8

      Finishing Stain or paint shelf as desired.

Comments (12)


  • Would love an explanation on the leg cuts: "2 – 2x3 @ 72” (can also use 1x3 or 2x4 if 2x3s cannot be sourced) – both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, long point to short point, ends are parallel" and then Step 4: Top Ends of Legs Use a square to mark back top edges of legs perpendicular to top 10 degree cut, so 6” is cut off at back side. Cut with circular saw Completely baffled by these cuts. Thanks Mike
    By msutherland29, on October 25, 2016

  • Hi Mike, sorry for the confusion. First, set your miter saw to 10 degrees off square. Then cut the 2x3s so both ends are cut at 10 degrees off square, the ends are parallel, and the length is 72" from the long point to short point, following one edge of the 2x3. Then use a speed square to mark the back where the shelf will sit against the wall square to the top as done in step 1 of this plan http://www.ana-white.com/2015/08/free_plans/leaning-ladder-wall-bookshelf Hope this makes sense.
    By Ana White, on October 25, 2016

  • 2 questions..... 1. Why is that last cut 6 1/4" when all the rest are to the inch 2. Are the feet cut on an angle to sit flush on the floor?
    By Jpurdie, on February 10, 2017

  • Hi, sorry for any confusion. The 6-1/4" comes from 5-1/2" wide 1x6 plus 3/4" to equal 6-1/4" The other cuts are even numbers because the board widths for 1x10 and 1x8 are 9-1/4" and 7-1/4" wide. Yes the bottom legs are cut at an angle to sit flat on floor.
    By Ana White, on February 10, 2017

  • If I don't have brad nailer, will I be able to do this with a good old hammer and nails?
    By sgcolligon, on June 30, 2017

  • I have a narrow space behind my toilet. This would work perfect, but I need to adjust it to fit 21inches wide total. Could you help me figure this out. Thanks :)
    By MED, on August 10, 2017

  • Good evening, I am using this plan to add some much needed storage to a bathroom and the 10-degree cuts do not seem to make sense for both the top and bottom. If I cut the bottom at 10-degrees off square, my measurement at 72" (starting 6" from the top) would be at 21.5-degrees off square. Unless I am looking at this incorrectly. I am also using Google Sketchup to visualize my build based on the instructions before I begin. Thank you.
    By JWest82, on March 14, 2018
    • Nevermind... looks like my angles somehow were messed up...
      By JWest82, on March 14, 2018
    • I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong with the top angle please help!!!
      By TonyJones, on March 9, 2020

  • I’m having a hard time understanding how to cut the angle at the top of the 2x3. 
    By Stephen5, on October 23, 2018
    • Did you figure it out?
      By TonyJones, on March 9, 2020

  • This was a super easy project.  Thank you for posting these.  This is how we used them: https://youtu.be/WwsD7902Y_4
    By KimAndGarrett_makeIt, on February 25, 2019

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Leaning Bathroom Ladder Shelf

by Ana White
Aug 08, 2016

This beautiful wood leaning ladder shelf designed to fit over the toilet is perfect for adding storage without having to drill holes in the wall. It’s easy to make with off the shelf lumber and just a few basic power tools. Add that farmhouse look to your bath in just a couple of hours.

Project Steps

  1. Step: 1

    Cutting and Layout Cut wood according to cut list. Layout the shelves first, each shelf will have a back and two sides, matching the width of the shelf. Cut List: 2 – 2x3 @ 72” (can also use 1x3 or 2x4 if 2x3s cannot be sourced) – both ends cut at 10 degrees off square, long point to short point, ends are parallel 1 – 1x10 @ 24” 1 – 1x8 @ 24” 1 – 1x6 @ 24” 3 – 1x3 @ 24” 2 – 1x3 @ 10” 2 – 1x3 @ 8” 2 – 1x3 @ 6-1/4”

  2. Step: 2

    Shelf Assembly Glue and nail back to shelves with 1-1/4” brad nails using 18 gauge AirStrike brad nailer. Then attach sides to both bottom and back.

  3. Step: 3

    Additional Shelves Repeat for remaining two shelves. TIP: Round outside top corners off shelf sides to prevent sharp edges.

  4. Step: 4

    Top Ends of Legs Use a square to mark back top edges of legs perpendicular to top 10 degree cut, so 6” is cut off at back side. Cut with circular saw

  5. Step: 5

    Sanding Sand legs and all shelves with sander, using medium grit sandpaper.

  6. Step: 6

    Assembly Mark legs 37” up on inside from bottom, on both front and back. Lean legs against level wall, ensuring legs are placed evenly out from wall. Clamp scrap wood under marks on insides.

  7. Step: 7

    Shelves Set largest shelf on top of the clamped blocks. Adjust as necessary, making sure the shelves are evenly placed on legs. Attach shelf to legs with 1-1/4” wood screws. Cut two scrap wood blocks 10” long. Place on bottom shelf. Set next shelf on top. Screw to legs. Repeat for all three shelves.

  8. Step: 8

    Finishing Stain or paint shelf as desired.