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Pairs of ready-made corbels let you install these wall shelves in a weekend.
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Cut each particleboard shelf to length -- the ones shown were cut to 56 inches long.
Screwing the corbels to wall studs provides the sturdiest installation option. Wall studs are spaced 16 inches apart at their centers, so plan your shelf lengths to accommodate brackets spaced 16, 32, 48, or 60 inches apart. However, unreinforced shelves 72 inches long may bow slightly under heavy loads.
Miter-cut one end of a pine stop moulding and clamp the inside edge of that miter against one corner of the shelf board. Mark the pine stop at the shelf corner on the other end and miter-cut the front moulding to length. Glue and nail the mitered pine stop to the front edge of the shelf board with the moulding edge flush with the top face of the shelf.
Miter-cut a 16-inch-long piece of moulding to join one end of the front moulding. Hold the miters together at a corner and mark the side moulding length at the back shelf corner. Cut the moulding to length. Then glue and nail the side moulding in place; repeat for the opposite end. Sand the shelf board and moulding with 180-grit and 220-grit discs.
Sink the nail heads beneath the wood surface and fill the holes with putty. Sand the moulding by hand, wipe clean, and apply a primer or sealer that can be sanded. Sand the primed surface with 320-grit sandpaper and apply at least two coats of paint (Arid Plains shown) to the entire shelf.
Sand the corbels as needed and apply at least two coats of paint.
Measure how far above the floor you want the top of your shelf (or the top of the uppermost shelf if there’s more than one). From that height, subtract the thickness of the shelf and the distance from the top of the corbel to the uppermost mounting hardware on the back. Drive a mounting screw at that location or add a wall anchor as needed. Using a level and straightedge held horizontally, mark the location for the top mounting screw of the second bracket. For both brackets, measure and mark mounting screw locations for the remaining hardware and drive mounting screws.
Test the fit of the brackets on the mounting screws and loosen or tighten them as needed until the brackets fit snugly against the wall.
Rest the shelf centered on the brackets for equal overhangs on both ends. Repeat for the remaining shelves.