Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Ensuring a good shelf life

By Justin Newcombe

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Making a shelf doesn't have to be difficult, says Justin Newcombe.

Making a shelf is pretty simple but if you're not careful, it can turn into a catastrophe. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Making a shelf is pretty simple but if you're not careful, it can turn into a catastrophe. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Putting up a shelf can be a serious test of one's practical abilities. Firstly, there's the possibility of this seemingly simple project degenerating into a Frank Spencer moment resulting in a major living room demolition, or you could end up with so many holes in the wall your lounge looks like a shooting gallery for rusty gun slingers.

Making a shelf is actually pretty simple, and it's good to explore the many variations on this basic project. For example, you can use a beautiful piece of recycled or native timber and polish or oil it to show off the grain and any interesting features. Another approach would be to use thin timber laminates like Canadian maple and make a slick contemporary shelf which could be fastened with a smart ergonomic bracket.

I've built a basic plywood shelf to store stuff in the workshop. Whichever way you go, a shelf needs to be able to do one main task and that's support the load being placed on it. In my workshop all I really needed to do was make sure the shelf was level before I screwed it to the plywood wall, but in a house I'd need to be a lot more careful.

The shelf couldn't be easier to make. I screwed and glued mine but if you're in less of a rush you could just glue and clamp it to give a more seamless finish.

Step 1

Measure and cut two lengths of timber 200mm wide and approximately the length you require for your shelf.

Step 2

Using a drop saw (if you have one) cut between two and four triangles to act as braces. The two 90° angles should be around 190mm long.

Step 3

Glue all the joining edges.

Step 4

Place the two long boards together then fix a bracing triangle at each end. Brace or glue the pieces together then allow to dry. The shelf can be decorated, and if you use thicker wood you can attach hooks on the underside of the shelf for anything you might want to hang off it.

Step 5

Firstly, plasterboard is not load-bearing in the same way as the plywood I screwed my shelf to, so you need to find a horizontal stud in the wall and mark it.

Step 6

Pre-drill the screw holes into the shelf. Hold the shelf up so it is level and the holes line up with the stud. Mark the wall through the screw holes in the shelf, then mark where the top of the shelf will sit against the wall.

Step 7

Make sure the shelf is level. Check and recheck that you're happy with the position of the shelf, then drill the marked holes in the wall and screw in the shelf. Check at Bunnnings for best the type of screws to use.

- NZ Herald

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