By following a few simple steps, we can give you some tips about building a simple wall shelf that will look good, be level, and still be on the wall the following day! The basic materials you'll need are brackets, glass paper, screws of a suitable type and length dependant on what you want to use the shelf for, the shelf itself and wall fixings. As for tools, you'll need a Centre punch, a hammer, hammer drill and drill bits for masonry and wood, marking gauge, a pencil, a suitable screwdriver, a spirit level, a steel rule, tape measure and a cable finder.
The type of wood you choose depends on what you want to use it for. A heavier load needs a stronger shelf. Check that your wall is strong enough to carry the weight of your shelf and its load. Your local DIY supplier will advise you on the correct shelf. Next you must choose the correct fixing for your wall. For most internal brick or concrete block plaster internal walls, use a strong plastic wall plug and wool screws: 3.2 mm or 5.5 mm are good.
Before you start revving the drill up, check the wall for cables using your cable and pipe finder, and mark the position of any cables or pipes. Move any furniture out of the way. You may want to put a dust sheet below where you plan to put the shelf, and have the hoover nearby. You are now three steps away from your fitted shelf .
Step 1 Mark the wall where the bottom of the shelf will be. Make a horizontal line through this point, with a pencil and spirit level. If your spirit level is a short one, you may have to rest it on the edge of the shelf. Mark the length of the shelf on the horizontal line, then make the position of your brackets. You will need to get a span chart which advises on the span between brackets given the type of wood, the shelf thickness and the eventual shelf usage. For example, a hardwood shelf, 15mm thick to be used for heavy books would require a 450mm span between the brackets. Set the end brackets between 100 and 150mm in from the shelf ends. This will avoid the likelihood of a banana shaped shelf. Mark some vertical lines where the brackets will go.
Step 2 Attach the Brackets, by holding one bracket against the wall, with a small piece of wood on the projecting arm. Align it with the vertical and horizontal lines of an end bracket. Make the screw holes on the wall with a bradawl. Use a hammer and centre punch to mark the screw positions. Then use a hammer drill and masonry bit to drill holes that suit the wall plugs. Insert the wall plugs and attach the brackets firmly to the wall. Fix the second bracket in the same way at the opposite end of the shelf. If you're fitting a long shelf and need a third centre bracket, use a line of thread between the two end brackets to line this up.
Step 3 Screw the brackets to the shelf to secure the shelf and stop it tipping over. Now is the moment of truth, as you load up your new shelf