How to hang a shelf on the wall

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I was looking through "Design Your Own Furniture" by Jim Stack and I encountered a shelf that I thought looked nice. It is made from two pieces hung on a wall. Each piece is like the letter "U", turned sideways, so the total shelf looked like this (use fixed width font):
. ----------------- . | . ----------- | . | | . | ------------- . | . -----------------
I have posted a picture scanned from the book for clarification at
http://members.cox.net/jsam/bookshelf.jpg but it will be available only for few days.
Close inspection of the picture makes it look like a very simple design. Each piece looks to be made of say 5" wide 3/4" thick material, mitered together at the corners. Looks like it might be five feet long. The look is very clean: no supporting structure is visible to hold thing thing to the wall, just three pieces of wood for each half sticking to the wall.
When I saw it I thought "I need one of those. Looks simple enough..." But after thinking a bit more I realized I don't know how to hang it on the wall. I thought of putting screws through it at an angle into the wall, which seems ugly but might work. Maybe sideways keyholes on the back? But it seems like it would be hard to get it tight to the wall, and the weight would be borne by a thin bit of wood around the keyhole. Also, if the hardware has to be positioned in the wall to match holes in the back of the shelf, it seems like that hardware would have to be positioned in the wall with unrealistic accuracy to avoid stressing those joints. Anyone have any insight on a good way to hang a shelf like this?
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I got some shelves from Ikea that mounted invisibly. The way they did it was to have a metal strip with rods coming out of it that you attached to the wall. So the metal strip is screwed to the wall, and the rods extend into the shelf. Back of the shelf has some holes to accomodate the rods. There was also a screw that came up from the bottom of the shelf into the rod to prevent it from slipping off. Perhaps you could fashion something similar.
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I think i'd experiment with a longer (maybe 3") pocket screws through the shelf and into the studs. Then plug the pockets. --dave

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This same shelf design was in one of the woodworking mags a month or so back. I think I still have it at home. The shelves were designed in a torsion box style. There was a piece of wood ( IIRC - 1" X 2" ) that fit into an opening lengthwise into the upper and lower part of the U shaped shelf unit. Screws were run into the (1" X 2" ) piece of wood form the top of the upper section and from the bottom of the lower section, then plugged to finish hiding them. I'm attempting to use ascii to show how a single flat shelf would mount.
---------------------------------------------------- : ------------------------------------------------ : : ------------------------------------------------ : -----------------------------------------------------

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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu wrote:

I'm thinking metal rods. Stronger than keyholes. Bore holes for just shy of the full depth of the shelf. Insert rods about half the thickness of the wood as close to the bottom edge as you can manage. That way you get as much wood on top of the rod as you can, but nothing shows. Bore holes into the studs. Trim to fit.
I've never done this, but that's the first idea that pops into my head for how I'd do it. Kind of off the wall. Sagging might be a problem. I'd want to use some pretty stiff rods, and use wood thick enough to accommodate it. But the holes in the studs would have to be perfectly centered to make that fly. My stud finder isn't that good.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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On 29 Dec 2004 08:54:16 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu wrote:

Use a dovetail bit or your tablesaw to cut an angled lip on the back side of your shelf, and then make a small strip with a complementary angle to mount onto the wall. When you set the shelf on the strip that is mounted up, the angled bit on the shelf should slide onto the mounting strip, and hold the thing in place.
...................................................................... ___ | shelf | \ | ..........................................................| \_|
|----\ Mounting bracket -> | \_ |_____|
Sorry about the crappy ASCII, but that's the best I can do with it! With some careful fitting, you should be able to get an almost seamless mount that doesn't involve plugging holes or trying to hide screws by some other method. As a bonus, if you use a real long mounting board, the weight will be distributed much more evenly than using another method.
Hope this helps!
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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This is also called a French cleat. Tom
wrote:

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That's a great solution, I'd seen French cleats employed for hanging cabinets but it would work great here too.
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Even simpler and more sturdy is a torsion box. A few months back one of the magazines had an 'S' shaped series of shelves made using torsion boxes. The 'wall' member of the box is mounted, then the remainder of the box is attached to it with screws topa and bottom.
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The shelves from Ikea where essentially a torsion box, but the shelves in the picture are pretty skinny which makes using a torsion box kinda tricky. Still think the French cleat is the best solution that's been put forward (but what do I know)
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wrote: <snip>> Even simpler and more sturdy is a torsion box. A few months back oneof the

I wouldn't argue stronger, but simpler??? Split a board lengthwise with a 45 degree cut, fasten one side to the wall and the other to the work (both level) and you're done. Tom
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On reflection, 'simpler' does seem a bit odd! Perhaps it was in reference to the drilling holes through the edge of the shelf and inserting 12" bolts, or somesuch suggestion?
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Thomas Bunetta wrote:

In the USA, shouldn't those be "Freedom Cleats"? <g>
-- Mark
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On Thu, 30 Dec 2004 18:16:00 GMT, Mark Jerde

Reminds me, I need to buy some Freedom ti . .er . .never mind.
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On Thu, 30 Dec 2004 08:42:09 -0500, "Thomas Bunetta"

Thanks, I had no idea what it was called! Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu writes:

What a great design!
There could be long bolts fastened into the studs with holes drilled in the shelves to fit over the bolts. With the heads cut off the bolts, this would be do-able, especially if it was at a slight angle. Years ago, I did something similar for a short, narrow shelf which had no significant weight as this one carries.
Is it so you can contact the publisher for information from the designer? It would be very interesting to find out how he did it. Then again, maybe it's a question for "Ask This Old House." <g>
I've seen this design before but cannot remember where or when (except 20+ years in the past).
Glenna
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All these ideas seem to not provide enough support strength in order to place anything on the shelf (I think a french cleat would break off and pocket screws would rip through the shelf or wall).
I would drill holes completely through the shelf into the wall that some kind of rod/bolt would go into, then either plug the holes, or to better hide them, place a small strip of wood or laminate over the length of shelf.
Shawn
snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu wrote:

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So it seems like so far we've got:
(1) metal rods from shelf into the studs (2) pocket screws (3) French cleat (4) torsion box
It seems like (1) might work but would be hard to align properly and it's not immediately obvious how you keep the shelf from falling off the metal bars if you don't glue it or something.
I'm not sure if I think (2) would work or not. Seems like with enough screws, correctly positioned, it might be strong enough.
The French cleat sounds elegant. Is it string enough for this application? Based on my web surfing the usual use of the French cleat is to hang a cabinet where everything is bigger. In this case the forces would be borne by 1/4" little sections. Would they break off as suggested above? Would the shelf be easily knocked off? (Maybe a prototype is needed.)
I'm not sure I understand the torsion box concept as it applies here. If I do understand it then the equivalent hanging scheme can be performed without actually making a torsion box. Just make a groove the length of the shelf and make a mating piece that mounts to the wall. The shelf slides onto the mating piece and is secured by screws. So it looks like this:
| |----x------------------- | x |----x---- | x | | x | |----x---- | v |-----------------------
where I show the side view with the wall on the left and the screw shown as x's. This seems like the most secure after the metal bars scheme, and possibly easier to implement (?).
Any more thoughts on this?
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snipped-for-privacy@cam.cornell.edu (Adrian Mariano) wrote:

I think the shelf with groove would be more prone to sag than the torsion box. Choice depends on how thin you want the shelf. A few years ago I saw a photo in one of the magazines of Ian Kirby sitting on a wall hung torsion box. I don't think that would be doable with any of the other schemes.
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| | > I'm not sure I understand the torsion box concept as it applies here. | > If I do understand it then the equivalent hanging scheme can be | > performed without actually making a torsion box. Just make a groove | > the length of the shelf and make a mating piece that mounts to the | > wall. The shelf slides onto the mating piece and is secured by | > screws. So it looks like this: | > | >| | >|----x------------------- | >| x | >|----x---- | >| x | | >| x | | >|----x---- | >| v | >|----------------------- | > | > | > where I show the side view with the wall on the left and the screw | > shown as x's. This seems like the most secure after the metal bars | > scheme, and possibly easier to implement (?). | > | > Any more thoughts on this? | > | > | | I think the shelf with groove would be more prone to sag than the torsion | box. Choice depends on how thin you want the shelf. A few years ago I saw | a photo in one of the magazines of Ian Kirby sitting on a wall hung | torsion box. I don't think that would be doable with any of the other | schemes.
As NO-SAG spans are concerned, the following is true for a book shelf:
3/4" plywood -- 36" 3/4" particleboard -- 28" 3/4" Oak board -- 48" 1/2" acrylic -- 22" 3/8" glass -- 18"
These are the maximum spans for a load of 25 lbs. and no additional support.
A torsion-box of 1 1/2" X 12" X 48" will have 2/3 less deflection under load than a similar length Oak board at about 1/3 the cost.
The torsion box can be constructed from: 1/8" or 1/4" skins top and bottom 1/8" or 1/4" thick logitudinal core strips spaced 3" apart 1/8" or 1/4" thick spacers set every 6" apart.
Given 1/4" skins, the front skin would be 1 1/2" wide and the back "skin" would be 1" wide and 1" thick and 47 1/2 " long. This would allow the back "skin" to be screwed to the wall and the torsion box to be screwed/glued to the cleat.
--
PDQ
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