The free diy home improvement guide with answers to your questions on a wide range of do it yourself projects.

Putting up a Fixed Shelf

Tools and materials for a fixed shelf

This is probably the simplest type of shelf and comprises a flat timber board or melamine shelf mounted on simple or
decorative angle brackets.

Always wear suitable safety goggles when drilling fixings.

1. Always check that there are no pipes or cables hidden in the wall behind the fixing points. You can use a pipe and cable detector to check this. If there is a switch or socket nearby which is vertically or horizontally in line with the proposed fixing point that's a good indicator that there may well be cable in the way. If needs be, adjust the position where you fix the shelf.

Marking the centre of the shelf on the wall

2. Make a pencil mark on the wall at the height where you want the shelf to be. This should be the centre of the underside of the new shelf.

Checking the level and marking the shelf position

3. Hold a spirit level against the wall at this point and mark a light line for the full length of the shelf. If needs be, move the level along to continue marking the line. Alternatively, hold the spirit level on a long batten against the wall and use that for marking against.

Marking the position for the brackets on the shelf

4. Lay your new shelf upside down and set out your brackets so that they are evenly spaced and have sufficient overhang at either end. The overhang should be no more than 20% of the space between brackets.

5. Mark the position of the centre of the brackets on the back edge of the shelf with pencil.

Marking the bracket positions on the wall

6. Hold the shelf up against the wall and transfer the marks for the centreline of each bracket to the wall along the level line marked earlier.

Marking the fixing positions on the wall

7. Hold the first bracket in position and mark the fixing holes on the wall.

Drilling the fixing holes in the wall

8. Put the bracket to one side and, using a suitably sized masonry bit mounted in your power drill, drill the fixing holes. For information on fixing to plasterboard stud walls see our Wall Fixing – Hollow Walls guide

Tapping the wall plugs home with a hammer

9. Insert wall plugs into the holes and tap them home with a hammer.

Fixing the bracket with screws

10. Re position the bracket and fix using suitable screws.

Marking the next bracket fixing points

11. Repeat the process with the last bracket, making certain that the top aligns with the level line drawn earlier to represent the underside of the shelf.

12. If you have additional intermediate brackets, lay a batten or the shelf on its back edge across the first two brackets.

Using batten to guide level of intermediate bracket

13. Position each of the other brackets so that they are against the edge of the batten. This ensures that all brackets will be perfectly in line.

Drilling the fixings for intermediate brackets

14. Mark the fixing points then drill and plug the holes before re positioning the brackets and securing them.

Marking the fixing points on the shelf

15. Lay the shelf across the brackets so that it aligns correctly with them and mark the fixing points for the shelf using a pencil through the holes in the brackets.

Drilling pilot holes for the fixing screws

16. Remove the shelf and lay it on the floor or your workbench. Use a bradawl to start these holes then use a small diameter drill to make pilot holes for the screws. Take great care not to drill too deep and make sure that the screws you use will not pierce the upper side of the shelf.

Fixing the shelf to the brackets

17. Place the shelf on the brackets again and use suitable screws to fix it to the brackets. These fixings are often overlooked but they are essential in stopping the shelf from tipping.

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