How to Build Shelves

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How to Build Shelves

Building shelves is a simple and rewarding home improvement task. Shelves are essential in any living room or kitchen, used for storing books and other objects. The following guide outlines the steps needed to build shelves for your home.


The Simplest Way to Create Shelves

The simplest way to create shelves in the home is to attach some brackets to the wall to support the shelf. You can buy shelves that have already been cut to size, or cut shelves from a large sheet of plywood. If you’re putting up shelves on drywall, first use a stud finder, or locate the studs by knocking on the wall and listening for sections that do not sound hollow. Attaching the brackets to wall studs ensures that they have adequate structural support.

Level Up

It is extremely important to make sure that the shelves are level. Use a spirit level to mark the position of the second bracket so it lines up on a horizontal plane with the first. Screw the brackets to the wall using a manual or electric screwdriver. Lay the plywood shelf on top of the brackets and screw it into place to prevent it from slipping.

Sand It Down

When cutting shelves from plywood, be sure to sand down the edges to remove any rough patches. Applying a strip of wood veneer to the visible edge of each shelf and staining it with wood stain can improve its appearance. Wait until the wood stain is fully dry before attempting to install each shelf on its brackets.


Building a Free-standing Shelving Unit

Free-standing shelving units are useful because they are portable and can be relocated to any room in the house. Building a free-standing shelving unit out of plywood is trickier than putting up wall-mounted shelves, but is still possible with the help of some careful instructions and the proper tools.

Building a set of free-standing shelves for the home requires an adequate quantity of plywood, a saw to cut the plywood pieces to the correct sizes, screws, and an electric drill. Paint or wood stain can also be used to decorate the shelving unit once it is built. All these supplies are available to buy online or at a well-stocked hardware store.

Plan It Out

Start by planning how large the entire unit will be, as well as deciding the depth, width, and height of each shelf. When making these decisions, consider what items will be stored on the shelves, as well as where in the home the unit will be placed. Draw out a plan that details the dimensions of each shelf, as well as the dimensions of the side supports that will hold the shelves together in one unit. Some shelving units also have top and bottom supports, and some have a closed back.

Measure and Cut

After deciding the dimensions of every piece of the shelving unit, measure and cut the pieces of plywood to size using a saw. A table saw is a useful tool for achieving perfectly straight cuts, which are important when building shelves.


The next step is to assemble the shelving unit. Drill holes for the screws in the side supports and the edges of the shelves, then drive the screws into these holes to hold the shelves in place. Do the same for all the shelves, as well as for the top and bottom pieces of the unit. Finally, paint the unit or apply wood stain to make the shelves beautiful. Display these shelves anywhere in the home and fill them with books, CDs, DVDs, and other items that need storing.

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