How to Measure and Install Wooden Shelf Brackets

Updated on December 22, 2016

How to Install A Wooden Shelf

The Tools Required to Install Wooden Shelf Brackets

Measuring The Brackets and Holes

How to Measure and Install Wooden Shelf Brackets - Measure Twice

So you have a wooden shelf and you want to know how to measure and install wooden shelf brackets. One of the seemingly simple tasks you may encounter in your home is installing wooden shelf brackets. To ensure the wooden shelf is properly supported and level, you must take several measurements and ensure any holes drilled are in perfect alignment.

In this case I installed a freestanding wooden shelf to a painted drywall surface. The wooden shelf brackets have pre-installed sunken metal hardware. We will need to install two wall anchors and screws per shelf bracket.

The tools required are a hammer, screwdriver, 4 wall anchors and screws, level with surface measuring guide. and a drill with 3\16" drill bits.

First decide where exactly on the wall you wish to mount your shelf. Take into consideration that the wooden shelf itself will add an inch or more to the height. This is especially important if you intend on installing the shelf immediately below another object already mounted on the wall. In this case, I had to install the shelf below a mirror, The brackets used will be fitted over wall mounted screws and then slid down into a locked position. Therefore sufficient space between the mirror and the top of the bracket has to be measured.

First measure from the height of the shelf, then measure the distance on the wooden shelf bracket from the end of the bracket to the top of the screw slot. Add these measurements together and add 1 inch to allow for the brackets to be slid down into position. For my Shelf, this total measurement was 2 1\2 ".

The positioning of the two brackets will depend on how long the shelf is. My shelf was 40 inches long so I planned to place the brackets 24" apart and centered under the shelf. To find where the first shelf bracket should be located, subtract 24" from 40" and divide by two. 40 - 24 = 16. 16\2 = 8 inches. Mark the wall for the first bracket screw hole. This should be the distance as measured above, in my case 2 1\2 inches below the mirror and 8 inches in from the left side of desired shelf location.

Measure the distance on the shelf bracket between the two screw slots, in my case 5 1\8 inches. Use the level with the measurement guide and align with the first mark noted above. Hold the level vertical to the wall and ensure the level bulb is centered. Then mark the second screw hole according to the above measurement. Note these measurements must be exact for the brackets to fit properly, so always measure twice and mark them down on paper.

The first bracket holes are now marked. Next you have to repeat this process to mark the holes for the second bracket. We had determined above we would place the brackets 24 inches apart. My level is exactly 24 inches long so I positioned it on the wall with the upper left corner touching the top centre left screw hole. With the level bubble centered, I marked the position of the top screw hole for the second bracket. Now just repeat the process noted above to mark the second screw hole.

How to Install Wooden Shelf Brackets - Complete Steps

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How to Measure and Install Shelf Brackets - Drill the Holes

Will all four holes measured and marked, use the drill with a 3\16 inch drill bit and drill the holes through the drywall. The size of hole drilled and drill bit used will depend on the anchor size used. Note it may be a good idea to use a stud finder on the wall first to locate any studs. If you do find a stud directly behind where you need to mount your bracket, you will not need a wall anchor. In this case do not drill a 3\16 inch hole. Just insert a longer screw directly into the wall using the appropriate screw driver. Generally screws used with wall anchors are shorter than screws used to fasten directly to a stud.

With the holes all drilled, place a wall anchor into one of the holes. Gently tap the anchor into the hole until the lip of the anchor is flush with the surface of the wall. Repeat this step for all four holes. Then using the appropriate screw driver, manually insert a screw into each hole leaving approx 1/8 inch of the screw thread exposed. Do not insert the screw flush with the wall as the bracket needs to slide between the wall and the screw head.

With the screws in place, take one of the brackets and gently fit the bracket over top of the screw heads, then gently slide the bracket down until it rests firmly on the screw heads. If the bracket is still a little loose, slide the bracket up and off the screw heads, then tighten up the screws another half turn or more depending on how loose the fit is, then reinstall the bracket. If the fit is a bit snug, use a hammer to gently tap the bracket down and into place. The best fit is a snug fit. Repeat this process with the other bracket.

With both brackets installed, place the wooden shelf on top. Centre the shelf over top of both brackets, then insert two 2 inch screws to secure the top shelf to each bracket. You now have a shelf that is securely mounted, centered and levelled and is ready for use.


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