How to put up shelves, and how not to...

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A penniless friend has just moved house, and his new kitchen was very bare indeed; no shelves, cupboards or units, everything on the floor...

In the outhouse we found stock of old chipboard drawer fronts, dozens of them, and I suggested we put up some shelves. The drawer-fronts are not very wide, but often have loop-handles, practical for hanging aprons and tea-towels.

He immediately started thinking ugly metal brackets, a slew of holes in the wall. I have a better idea.

The theory: Conventionally we use metal or wooden right-angle brackets, screwed to the wall and the shelf.

When the shelf is loaded, the weight tends towards the outside. Precession.

With predictable results...

However, if the shelves are suspended from the wall, the weight tends towards the interior. A modest lath on the wall supports the shelf. 1" x 1/2" is adequate, even for heavy loads, such as books. A screwed eye supports the suspension cables.

If you wish to put up several shelves, the screw-eyes of the lowermost can fix the next shelf's lath to the wall; economy of materials and labour.

Finished book-shelves. The suspension cords also have the advantage of preventing the books from falling off the ends!

Practical: We used 3mm braided Nylon cord for the suspensions. A knotted or sewn loop is made in one end, a figure-eight stopper-knot in the other. The cord passes through a hole drilled near the outer edge of the shelf. The shelf-angle may be adjusted - it is advantageous to tilt book-shelves back a bit. A half-bow then fixes the cord at the correct length. Being a sailor helps here, but boy-scouts should manage too...

You can fix the shelves to the laths, but it is not essential as the greater the loading, the greater the rearward pressure on the wall. A few panel pins will re-assure the nervous.