Beginner’s DIY – Putting Up a Shelf

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Whether you have just moved into a new home and are looking at making some small adjustments, or you’ve finally decided to get those books lined up on the floor of the living room out of the way, and you need a place to put them, putting up a shelf is not as hard as it looks. However, it does require some skill, and a willingness to learn. Even if you have never touched a toolset before, getting used to DIY work can be incredibly useful, particularly if you’ve just started out on your own and there is nobody around to help you out. Thankfully, the internet is a wonderful place full of guides.

For many people, the ability to put up a shelf is one of the most basic, yet most essential DIY tasks that they will encounter sooner or later. If you can put up a shelf, you’re well on your way to DIY success, right? Perhaps. But first, you need to learn how to do it. The easiest way to get a shelf up is with brackets which support the shelf. You can choose shelves which simply balance upon the bracket or you can have shelves that screw into the brackets for extra stability. Either way, check out our step-by-step guide to teach you exactly what you need to do.

What you’ll need
As with any DIY job it is essential that you have the right tools of the trade at your disposal, and even putting up a shelf requires a few specific tools. You’ll want a drill, wood screws, pencils, a spirit level, a stud detector and a hammer and nail for this project.

  1. Preparing your wall
    Before you start drilling holes willy-nilly, you want to make sure that the wall you have chosen is suitable for your shelf. Can the wall provide proper support for your shelf? Using the stud detector you will be able to find the wooden supports or studs which will allow you to place your shelf in a well-supported location.

Mark a vertical line where the studs are and then take one of your shelf brackets and your spirit level, positioning it at the height you would like the shelf to be. Use the spirit level to hold the shelf bracket at a horizontal level and then make a mark with your pencil through the hole in your first bracket. This is where you will need to drill.

  1. Mark the bracket holes
    While you will have marked the bracket holes with your pencil, to drill with accuracy it is often better to create a small dent so that your nail does not go into the wall at an awkward angle. Using your hammer and nail, make a small impression where you have made your pencil marks; this will make it easier for you to drill the holes for your brackets.
  2. Drill and screw in the first bracket
    Using a drill bit one size smaller than your shelf screws, drill into the wall. Only drill as far in as the depth of the screws minus the depth of the shelf bracket, otherwise, you are simply making more work for yourself. Now match up the holes of the first bracket with the holes in the wall and screw them in tightly. Walk back and check to make sure that it sits evenly and use a spirit level where possible. If it is not even, the shelf won’t be very usable, so you’ll need to readjust the bracket.

Once you’re finished and happy with your first bracket, you can repeat the process with your second bracket. In order to get the right location, cross reference the marks you made using the stud detector by drawing a horizontal line across the bottom of the first bracket. Then you can line up the stud in the wall with the second bracket to give your shelf the most support.

  1. Check your levels, affix your shelf, and check your levels again
    Once both brackets are screwed in, place your shelf plank on top of the two brackets, checking to see if it is level using your spirit level. If you’ve opted for extra security, you can now attach the shelf to the brackets using your extra screws, otherwise, it will sit nicely atop the two brackets for now. If you are unsure, you should always check your spirit levels twice, as if it is not perfectly level you will have problems with items staying on your shelf.

While it can take a little time to get perfectly level, putting up a shelf for the first time is often very rewarding and it does count towards your very own DIY degree. If you walk yourself through it step by step and don’t cut corners, it should be fairly easy for anybody to put up a shelf. However, it also gets you into the concept of using DIY for your own home, and can open up a wide range of opportunities for more home improvements that you might never have considered before. Step back and look at your new shelf with pride!

Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property industry – working together with Yorkshire-based furniture specialist QIM, who were consulted over this post.

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