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Putting up a shelf isn’t the most difficult of DIY tasks, but it still comes with its issues. Luckily, we’ve come up with a few top tips to help make it an even simpler task.

Match up your drill holes perfectly

Masking tape really is a DIYer’s best friend as it can have so many uses. This even includes using it to measure where to drill your holes before installing a shelf. Here’s how it works:

  1. Stick your tape all the way along the back of the shelf.

  2. Mark the fixing holes on the tape with a pencil.

  3. Take the tape off and stick it to your wall where you want the shelf to be. Make sure to use a spirit level so it’s straight, otherwise you’ll get a wonky shelf.

  4. Drill your holes through the tape where you made your marks.

  5. Take the tape off the wall.

You should now have two drilled holes that match up to your shelf perfectly, without even having to use a measuring tape.

A similar method involves using toothpaste

Yes, you read that right! Put a blob of toothpaste onto the holes at the back of your shelf, line it up with the wall (again, taking care to make sure it’s straight), and press it against your wall. You’ll now have two toothpaste marks on the wall that tell you exactly where to drill your holes.

Catch dust as you go

Drilling into drywall can be a messy business, but there are a number of ways in which you can catch the dust as you drill. All of these methods do a great job of catching any dust so you don’t have to clean up the mess at the end of the day.

  1. Use masking tape to stick an envelope to the wall underneath where you want to drill.

  2. Stick a sticky note under the drilling position and fold up the bottom. You can also fold in the sides to create walls so no dust falls off the edge

  3. Have your cleaning tools ready, including a dustpan and brush.

Now you can empty these DIY contraptions into the bin and put your broom away for good.

Know how far to drill

A common mistake when drilling holes either in your wall or into furniture is drilling too deep. This can be a problem if you’re making holes in a shelf that is shorter than the length of your drill bit. To avoid drilling too deep, line the drill bit up against whatever you’re working with, and mark the maximum depth with masking tape. Now just drill up to this tape, and you won’t end up poking a hole through your shelf.

You can even use a marking out tool on the drill bit, like a permanent marker, but you may not want to do this unless you’re drilling to that depth again in the future.

Drill straight holes every time

When drilling holes into the back of a floating shelf, it can be really difficult to keep your drill bit straight. This is especially important when you’re drilling into a thin piece of wood like a shelf, as it’s easy for the bit to come out on one side if it’s at a slight angle. There are a couple of ways to avoid this:

If you’re a serial DIYer, you’ll probably have some scrap wood hanging around. You can glue two small straight pieces of scrap wood together by their long sides, offsetting them slightly so you get a 90° angled nook. Simply nestle your drill bit in this nook, and you’ll get a straight hole every time.

If you’re not one for a lot of DIY, you’re probably more likely to have an old CD hanging around. When drilling vertically, place this CD over where your hole will be, and use the reflective side to see how straight your drill is when working. You can keep your eye on this reflection while drilling and adjust as you go. It’s surprisingly easy to gauge whether your drill is straight using this method as you’ll know it’s at an angle if it begins to creep into view. While it may sound like a bit of a novel idea, it generally yields great results.