How to Make Drop Leaf Shelf

A drop leaf shelf is ideal for small spaces or anywhere a handy shelf can be used. The drop leaf design puts the shelf out of the way when it is not in use, but makes it available for a writing desk, a place to eat when company comes over, or extra storage in a laundry room or bath. Anywhere you may need a shelf, but may not always have room, is a great place to build a drop leaf.

  1. Decide on the size of the shelf that is needed. A board with a 10- to 12-inch width is a good decorative shelf. A table size shelf may be 3- or 4-feet in width.
  2. Purchase hinge shelf supports that correspond with the size of your shelf project. The hinges can be purchased at a home improvement center or special ordered from many places on-line. On-line, you have the advantage of seeing the many options and calculating the size hinge needed to support the shelf. The shelf support hinge locks in place when the shelf is extended.
  3. Screw half of the hinge to the shelf on it's underside. This side lays flat against the wall or, depending on the type of hinge you choose, it could have 1 inch of space between the shelf and the wall. This saves damage to the wall.
  4. Measure from the floor to where the shelf is to be. At least two hinges should be spaced no more than 32 inches apart. Mark each place with a carpenter's pencil.
  5. Hold the shelf to the markings on the wall with a level on the top. When the bubble is between the lines on the level, have someone else drill the screws through the hinges and into the wall. The hinge will have a release button to lower the shelf.

Things You Will Need

  • Shelf
  • Hinges
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Measuring tape
  • Level
  • 1-by-2-inch boards


  • Consider adding a support leg to the shelf, if it is a large shelf. Many hinges support up to 200 pounds and need to be placed at 32 inch intervals. For a wider shelf used as a table or counter extension, a drop-down or fold-out leg may be added.

About the Author

Mitzi Saltsman has been writing children's material for church and Sunday school lessons since before 1980. Her work writing how-to articles earned her a trip to San Francisco and a spot on a commercial. Saltsman holds a Bachelor of Religious Education from Great Lakes Christian College.