Making and Mounting Shelves
Everyone at one time or another has had to put up a shelf, there are many ways of mounting a shelf to a wall, the most secure is to find the studs running up the wall and drive screws into them. There are two methods to find a stud in the wall behind the sheetrock.
1. Measure out from the corner and tap on the wall with a hammer at locations in multiples of 16 inches apart, you will hear hollow sounds between the studs and a solid sound at the stud.
2. Use a stud sensor, if you do this often this is the way to go.
Sometimes it is not possible to use the studs, the fasteners have to be in a certain spot, this is when anchors are used, in sheetrock walls we can either use a plastic anchor or a metal star anchor. The metal star anchors will support a greater load than the plastic anchors.
There are several methods of hanging the shelves, if they have a back screws can be driven through the backing material into studs or anchors.
Do not use drywall screws to mount a shelf or cabinet, they are designed for hanging drywall and do not have the proper shear strength for any other use.
A strip can be placed below the shelf and screws can be driven through it as shown below. Hole plugs can be used to hide the screws.
To mount a cabinet on a wall a French Cleat can be made by ripping a 45 degree cut through a wooden strip:
Metal brackets are also available similar to above wooden style.
If you don't have a router and use the metal plates you will have to cut an insert for the plate with a chisel and drill out the material for a pocket behind the keyhole.
This type of mount hangs on screw heads that protrude from the wall, if you have to use an anchor the metal star anchors work best. Insert the anchor, tighten the screw until the fingers are completely compressed against the back of the sheetrock, then back the screw out enough to allow the slot to slide snuggly over the head of the screw.
How shelves are fastened inside a carcass depends on whether they are to be adjustable or mounted in a fixed position. Fixed position shelves can be held in place by cutting dados in the uprights, or by using dowels, nails or screws using a basic butt joint.
To make shelves wider than the recommended distance in the span table dividers can be put below the shelves to support the weight.
Adjustable shelves are usually done by drilling a series of equally spaced holes in the uprights and then using pins or push in brackets to hold the shelves. For added strength and a finished look metal sleeves can be inserted into the mounting holes.
Bench Notes has a jig for drilling evenly spaced holes that you can make, or another method is to use a strip of peg board to mark the position of the holes.
Single wall shelves require a support, this can be either under the shelf or at the ends of the shelf, if the shape of these supports are an ogee, then one cut makes two supports.
The Woodbin has a very handy calculator to determine the dimensions of a shelf, just plug in your information such as length, width, thickness and weight it has to hold:
Simple Shelf Projects