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Space is always at a premium in the home, so use what you have effectively. Consider both shelf and cabinet space—there are many excellent ready-made units available. Alternatively, with some simple woodworking skills or the use of adaptable support systems, you can construct Attractive units tailor-made to fit your home and your needs.
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There are many brackets and support systems for shelves; some are screwed in position and some are adjustable. Styles vary, so a system can be found to fit most requirements. To prevent sagging, position brackets every 2 ft (600 mm) along its length. If the shelves are to store heavy items such as books, put the brackets slightly closer together.
Considerations when Planning Shelves
As well as choosing suitable materials, make sure that your shelves are strong enough for whatever is to be stored on them, and that they are level so that nothing rolls off.
Supporting heavy weights
Shelving needs to support its own weight as well as the items you wish to store or display. A few lightweight items will cause little difficulty, but a full shelf of books can be very heavy. Screws must be strong enough to stop shelves from collapsing—to support books, screws should penetrate masonry walls or wood studs by at least 2 in (50 mm), and supports should extend across two-thirds of a shelf’s depth. Screws for floating shelves are not always designed to support heavy loads, although if you can sink metal rods into a solid wall to a depth of two-thirds that of the shelf, you may be able to support greater weights.
Coping with undulating walls
Brackets must be precisely vertical and shelves horizontal. Use a level to assess all shelves’ positions before securing them in place. If the wall surface is not level, pack wooden shims behind shelf supports so that they lie square and support shelves on the level. For the best finish, scribe shelves so that they sit neatly against any undulations in a wall without leaving gaps. This can be difficult in alcoves—in which case consider using a card template.
Shelving and storage “stock” systems are often inexpensive, easy to transport, and simple to assemble. Good preparation will prevent problems during or after construction.
Ready-cut shelves can be bought in a range of materials, the most common of which are shown below. Check with the supplier that your chosen material is strong enough to provide the support you need—usually, most boards or lumber should be at least 1 in (25 mm) thick. If you want a material with a veneer or laminated edge, plan to use a standard sheet size so that you don't have to cut it, or plan it so that the uncovered cut edge will be hidden.
TOOLS AND MATERIALS NEEDED:
Assembling twin-slot shelving: Level, screws suitable to wall type, wood offcuts, paint, paintbrush, wood finish, decorative molding, panel pins, filler, sandpaper.
Using furring strip or ladder supports in an alcove: Level, screws suitable for wall type, shelf material, paint, paintbrush, wood finish, decorative molding, panel pins, filler, sandpaper.
Invisible attachments on an open masonry wall: Threaded metal rods, thick shelving material, try-square, level, masonry drill and long bit, resin, paint, paintbrush, wood finish, decorative molding, panel pins, filler, sandpapers.
Building a closet: Level, screws suitable for wall/ceiling/floor, wood offcuts, tenon saw.
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