How I Create Art - The Build ProcessWoodshop NewsWoodworking

Building a Floating Shelf With Drawers and a Ceruse Finish

Building a Floating Shelf With Drawers and a Ceruse Finish

In this project I build a hanging wall cabinet that features 3 drawers and a ceruse finish made from walnut.
It has a little bit of this and a little bit of that. From veneering the top, to some fundamental cabinet building techniques to how to apply a ceruse finish.


Specialty Products I used In this Build (Affiliate Links)
• Titebond CA Glue Medium –
• Titebond Accelerator –
• WoodRiver Block Plane –
• Titebond Veneer Glue –

For a list of some of my favorite tools and typical consumables I use in my shop, please visit my amazon page. (This is an affiliate link and funds raised help this channel grow.)

Today I’m building this Walnut floating shelf with some drawers.

I’m starting out with the top.

The clients don’t want any end grain showing on the top shelf because we are doing a ceruse finish, and that finish doesn’t look that great on end grain.

So I am re-sawing some walnut to veneer a plywood substrate.

I want to wrap all the  sides of the top and miter all the corners mitered so we won’t have any end grain showing.


Once I had all the strips cut I sent them through the planer to remove the saw marks, and bring them down to just less than an 1/8” in thickness.

I prepped my plywood substrate by cutting it a little oversized in length and width.


The finished top is going to be just under 2” thick, So I veneered both sides of 2 pieces of plywood.  Veneer both sides helped insure the plywood would not cup, and also made up the thickness I needed.


Once the glue was set I pulled it out of the vacuum bag and squared it up at the table saw.

Now that I have the top and bottom veneered up, I ripped some solid wood to width to use as the front edge for the top.  I’m using solid wood to band the front edge since I don’t have to worry about wood movement in the vertical direction.


Since I am going to miter the front edge along its full length I took my time at the jointer squaring it up.  If any little part is off it will make it difficult to pull that long of a miter tight its full length.

When I went to miter the piece I set up a feather board to prevent it from wandering away from the fence, insuring a perfect miter.


I cut this piece long enough so I could use it to wrap around the sides.

I am marking each end with 1 and 2 so when I cut them apart I can keep track of which piece goes on which end, so when I miter the end  the grain will flow around the corner, looking like one continuous piece.

Since the sides were already mitered the pointy ends are really fragile, so I put a piece of tape across the cut to prevent it chipping.


I set up a stop block on the end of the table to ensure I would cut the top, bottom and front edges at the exact same length.  If any of the three are off just a little, the miters on the end caps won’t line up.


Once I had them cut to length I ripped a 45° bevel on both the top and bottom pieces bringing them to their final width.


I’m getting ready to glue up top so I’m arranging the edges so the grain blends together, so when its glued up it will look like one piece.

When I did the assembly I used blue tape to help pull the miter tight as I worked my way down the edge.

For the end caps, I left them a little long, so once I had the top assembled, I marked, and cut them to length before gluing them in place.


Now I’m moving on to the sides of the case.  I want to cut the sides and drawer fronts out of one piece of wood so the grain flows continuously from the one side across all three drawers and down the other.  So I milled up one board all at once to its final thickness and then went to the miters saw  and cut the sides for the case off of each end.

I cut a dado in each side to accept the bottom piece.

I used the floating tenons to attach the sides to the top, and did a test fit.

I made sure everything was square, set the bottom in position, and mark where to cut.

The drawer dividers are going to be attached to the bottom with dados, so I set up my stacked dado head in the tablesaw, and marked the edge of the dado on the fence.  This gave me a reference to line up the bottom when cutting the dados.

I am using a French cleat to hang the cabinet from the wall so I did a test fit so I could mark  and cut a piece to length

I ripped it in half at the table saw.  One half will be attached to the cabinet the other will be attached to the wall to hang it from.

Next I held in place the pieces for the drawer dividers so I could mark and cut them to length.

I did another dry assembly so I could square up the dividers and mark an edge to use as a reference to cut mortises for floating tenons.

I took the time to clamp a stop block in place to help prevent the domino from sliding.  This is a critical placement.  If they are off and the dividers aren’t square it will be a huge pain to fit the drawers when I get to that step.

Finally I am ready to assembly the case.

I strategically left a gap in the clamps so I could slide in the French cleat and glue it into place.


When I did the assembly I made sure to line up the front of the cabinet so any discrepancy would end up on the back, which was easily taken care of with a hand plane.


Once the case was assembled I moved onto cutting the material to length for the drawer boxes

I used my  leigh jig to cut the joinery for the drawers and partially assembled the drawers

I left the sides long so I could just drop the partial assembled drawers in place and mark where to cut them to length.

After cutting them to length I set up my stacked  dado head  to cut a rabbit to attach the back of the drawer.


Then re adjusted the cutter to cut a dado for the bottom.  I was careful place the dado so it would pass between the dovetails and not show on the ends when assembled.   I will do the final assembly of the drawers after I finish the insides.

Now I am prepping for the ceruse finish by blowing out any dust in the grain of the wood.  I want to open up the grain so the paint will fill it in.

Before doing the cerusing I applied a few coats of poly to seal the wood so the paint wouldn’t stain it just fill in the grain.


Once I got a few sealer coats down I applied the paint.  Instead of working with the grain like you normally would.  I worked it across the grain working the paint into the grain as deep as I could.  At this point you want to avoid rubbing with the grain as you might wipe the paint out of the grain defeating the purpose.

I let the paint dry just to the point it was sticky, and then I came back and buffed off as much of the excess as I could, just leaving behind the what’s in the grain.

If you like the shabby chic look you can stop here, but we are going for a more refined look.  So I put a buffing pad on my sander and buffed off the ugly.

Once the paint was fully dried I assembled the drawer.

I test fitted each drawer and adjusted the fit with the block plan until I got a nice fit.

Now went and got the board I had set aside earlier for the drawer fronts.  I started by cutting the center drawer first and installed.  I used some CA glue with the activator to install it in place.

Then used some 1/16” shims to space the drawers so I could mark and cut the end pieces.

I applied the ceruse finish on the drawer front then it was time to  install the handles.

I found the center of the drawer and marked it on some tape.  Then used a jig that I pre made with the hole patter for the handles.  This way  I would not have to measure each drawer.    I clamped it in place and drilled for the handles.

Their it, a walnut floating shelf with drawers, with a ceruse finish.

If you would like to see what projects I am working on for future videos, with more details on my process, please join me on Patreon.  I owe a huge thank you to my patreon supports for helping make these video.  And as always, if you haven’t already  please subscribe to my channel and hit the bell to be notified when the next video comes out.





I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.