How to Install Shelves

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The beautiful thing about shelves is that they can be as complex or simple as you want. Assuming you already have the materials you need, begin the process by figuring out the height of the shelves. I recommend anywhere between 60 and 68 inches, as they will be, generally, at eye level. This is especially useful if you're making book shelves.

Things You'll Need

  • boards, sized to your specification for the selves
  • wall mounting brackets
  • 1.5" to 2.0" long screws
  • .5" long screws (optional)
  • wood glue (optional)
  • a stud-finder
  • a carpenter's level
  • a measuring tape
  • a screw driver or drill
  • a pencil for marking
  • Take your stud finder and locate a stud. This is important. If you mount shelves on just drywall, they will collapse and cause a large amount of damage to your wall.

  • Use your measuring tape to measure the stud to the height you want the first shelf to be.

  • Make a mark with your pencil at the point where you will screw the first mounting bracket into the wall. You should then use your screwdriver to mount the bracket to the wall. Depending on the type of brackets, you may need anywhere from 1 to 3 screws to do this. Just make sure that everywhere you drive a screw is on a stud.

  • When you are making your second set of brackets, place the shelf on top of the brackets so that it runs the length between the two brackets. Place the carpenter's level on top. Adjust the height of the second bracket to make sure that the shelf will be level. Again, make sure that the second bracket, when mounted, will be on a stud. Use the stud finder as often as necessary to make sure this happens.

  • Repeat steps 2 through 4 for each pair of mounting brackets. Depending on the length of the shelves, you may opt to use three mounting brackets per shelf instead of the usual two. I recommend this for shelves longer than 60 inches. However, it also depends on what you're putting on them. Keep in mind, though, you cannot use too many brackets for a shelf.

  • Fasten the shelves to the brackets. If you use glue, apply a small amount to the top part of the brackets, put the shelf on and then let it stand for fifteen minutes. If you use .5 inch screws, apply a little pressure to the top of the shelf while driving the screw through the mount. This takes considerably more effort, but will make the shelves more permanent.

  • Make sure to mount brackets on studs, and always make sure your shelves are level.

Tips & Warnings

  • A good rule of thumb is for about every 2.5 feet of shelf, you want another bracket. So, if you have 3 foot long shelfs, you want 2. If you have 5 foot long shelves, you would possibly want 3.
  • Another rule of thumb: measure twice, drill once. This will save you from unnecessary holes in your wall.
  • I would not recommend wall-mounted shelves in mobile homes. They cannot support as much weight as standard walls. If you're not careful, you could do severe damage to a mobile home this way; I would definitely recommend a standard, floor-to-ceiling bookshelf instead.

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