Things to think about

Take great care when fixing into walls to avoid cables and pipes that may be buried. A cable, pipe and stud detector will help in finding suitable fixing points.

Space is always at a premium in a home. With basic wood-working skills you can tailor-make attractive shelving and add hooks or pegs to maximise the space you have available.

Many excellent ready-made shelving systems, of different widths, heights and depths, are available to put together and be positioned where you need them, should you not wish to take up the woodwork challenge!

Shelves, flat-packed or custom-made, can be fitted almost anywhere, as the focal point of a room or discreetly tucked away under the stairs or inside a cupboard.

Consider the load the shelves will have to bear when choosing materials and position supports every 60cm so that shelves won't sag under the weight of whatever you will be placing on them. This is particularly important with regard to books.

The wall structure will determine the type of wall plugs and fixings you use. The strongest shelving is achieved when fixing into masonry walls or the timber in stud walls.

If fixing into the hollow part of a stud wall, don't worry. It is still perfectly possible to create a secure shelving system. However, increase the number of supports where possible and do not use the system for heavy items.

Glass shelving provides an effective decorative option. Such shelving systems tend to come supplied with their own brackets and fixing guides, although extra care will need to be taken with this more delicate material to avoid chipping or shattering.

Adjustable brackets are well worth considering when storage is the main function of the shelving. The height between shelves may be adjusted easily when your requirements change over time and you need to narrow or widen the gap between shelves.

Built-in shelves that are made to your specific requirements will add a personal touch that creates character in a room. These are straightforward to make, but require careful measuring.

Shelf brackets are available in hundreds of different designs. They may be supplied ready finished or unfinished so that you can paint them to match an existing colour scheme.

Fit twin-slot shelves

1

Mark a vertical line for the first support with a spirit level. Hold a bracket against line and mark fixing points.

2

Drill pilot holes through marks, plug them and use the appropriate screws to fix the first bracket on the wall.

3

Hold the next bracket in place. Ensure it is level with the first bracket. Pilot drill through the top fixing hole on the second bracket and secure in place.

4

Mark the other pilot holes through the second bracket, then swing the bracket to one side before drilling and plugging the pilot holes.

5

Let the bracket swing back in place, check that it is vertical and then use appropriate screws to fix securely.

6

Choose where you want to place the top shelf and hook in shelf supports in the same position on both brackets.

7

Both supports should be level. Place the shelf on the supports. Add further supports and shelves as required.

8

Use an awl to make pilot holes on the underside of the shelves, through the supports. Secure with screws.

Fit batten shelving

1

With a spirit level draw a level line for the lower edge of the first shelf on the back and side walls of the alcove in which you will have the shelving.

2

Measure and cut two 50 x 25mm battens for each end shelf support. Mitre batten ends, ensuring each is at least two thirds the shelf depth.

3

Hold the batten in place and drill pilot holes through the batten and into the wall behind – 2-3 holes normally suffice. Repeat with the other batten.

4

Insert appropriate wall plugs, here selfdrill/spiral ones are used in a stud wall, so instead of being pushed in they are turned in place with a screwdriver.

5

Add some grab adhesive to the back of each length of batten before positioning to ensure as secure a hold as possible for the supports.

6

Fix with appropriate screws through pilot holes. Measure and cut a batten for the back edge of the shelf, pilot hole, apply adhesive and fix in place.

7

Measure and cut the shelf to length. Position on the battens. The front of the shelf can overhang the front of the battens by a third, but no more.

8

Drill 2mm pilot holes every 15-20cm along the back and side edges of the shelf. This will be sufficient to hold the shelf securely.

9

Fix through the pilot holes to secure the shelf in position using appropriate screws – long enough to go through the shelf and around 10-20mm into the batten. Countersink screw heads, fill and sand for a smooth finish.

10

To finish the shelf you can attach moulding to the front. Fix with panel pins to the front shelf edge every 10cm. Punch the pin heads below the surface, fill and sand until smooth. Repeat process with other shelves in the alcove.

Fit a floating shelf

Floating shelves are normally supplied with manufacturers' guidelines. Follow these closely. A custom-made system is shown below.

1

Position one wall bracket, making sure it is level, and mark through the fixing holes.

2

Drill holes, insert wall plugs and fix the bracket temporarily in place.

3

Insert the second bracket into the shelf, then push shelf onto the fixed bracket. Ensure shelf is level. Mark position of unfixed bracket on wall.

4

Make pilot holes and secure the second bracket. Securely fix the first bracket, too. Slide shelf onto both brackets, ensuring it is level.

Fit a bracket shelf

Simple shelf brackets come in many shapes and sizes. Most have guidelines on them to show what weights they can support.

1

Position first bracket with a spirit level. Ensure that it is precisely vertical. Make marks for fixings with an awl.

2

Drill pilot holes through marks, insert wall plugs as required and fix bracket in place with appropriate screws.

3

Use the first bracket as a support for the spirit level when positioning adjacent bracket(s) precisely level.

4

Once other bracket(s) are fixed, rest shelves on brackets. Secure with screws through brackets to their undersides.