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How to Make Wall Shelves With L-Brackets

Wall shelves add extra storage throughout the house, while maximizing floor space. Shelves supported by a pair of L-brackets -- L-shaped pieces of metal with two arms -- are among the most basic and practical shelving. One arm attaches to the wall and the other rests beneath your shelf to provide support and hold it in place. The installation process for L-bracket shelving differs depending on your wall type and the presence or lack of a suitable anchor.

Solid Walls

Shelves can be installed anywhere they are needed with the use of L-brackets.

Step 1

Locate studs behind the wall where you plan to hang your shelf using your stud finder.  Move the stud finder over the wall until it signals the presence of a stud. Mark the location with your pencil.  Locate the next stud in the same manner. Make sure the two brackets sit close enough together to support the shelf.  If you are installing your shelves into a solid wood wall you should be able to mount them wherever you wish without concern for locating studs. If you are unable to locate studs, or you have a completely hollow wall, see Section 2. 

Step 2

Screw your L-bracket anchor screws through the screw holes provided in the bracket and into the marked location using your screwdriver or screw gun.  Tighten each screw into the wall until the screw head is flush with the bracket material.

Step 3

Use your extended-length level to install the second L-bracket.  Align the second L-bracket with the corresponding stud. Lay your level over the L-bracket you have already installed and extended it to the second bracket.  Make sure the two brackets sit level to one another and mark the location in the open screw holes of the second bracket.

Step 4

Screw the anchor screws for the second L-bracket into the wall until firmly fastened. 

Step 5

Fasten a shelf to your mounted L-brackets using your screwdriver or screw gun.  Insert screws through the screw holes located in the arm of the L-bracket, which is now protruding from the wall surface. Lay the shelf on top of the brackets and tighten the screws from beneath until firmly in place. 

Hollow Walls

Step 1

Hold your first L-bracket up to the wall and mark the screw holes with your pencil where you wish it to hang. 

Step 2

Drill pilot holes into the wall on your pencil marks.  Install your self-drilling, screw-in anchors by pressing them into the wall surface by hand, tightening them into place with your screwdriver or screw gun.

Step 3

Hold your L-bracket in place, insert the anchor screws into the screw holes and tighten them into the screw-in anchors already set within the wall.  Use your screwdriver and continue tightening until the anchors have completely opened and are held fast to the wall.

Step 4

Mark the pilot holes for your second L-bracket using your pencil and extended length level.  Repeat the installation process from Step 3.

Step 5

Fasten a shelf to your mounted L-brackets using your screwdriver or screw gun.  Insert screws through the screw holes located in the arm of the L-bracket which is now protruding from the wall surface. Lay the shelf on top of the brackets and tighten the screws from beneath until firmly in place. 

Things You Will Need

  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Screw gun
  • Extended length level
  • Self drilling screw-in anchors

Tip

  • If you should ever mistakenly strip a self drilling screw-in anchor, simply replace it with a toggle bolt anchor of slightly greater size.

Warning

  • Shelves mounted on hollow walls will be significantly weaker than those mounted in solid walls or studs.

About the Author

Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images