How to Install Earthquake Straps

Recent concerns over earthquakes around the world have caused people to begin to think about disaster readiness of their own homes. The installation of earthquake straps on bookshelves and large cabinets is one way to do improve home safety. The Red Cross states that bookcases, china cabinets and other tall furniture should be bolted to wall studs. However, if you do not live in an earthquake zone, they can still keep furnishings from being toppled by a small child or toddler.

Anchoring Straps to the Wall

Heavy bookshelves can be a danger to children
  1. Empty the bookcase of books. Move the bookcase. Take the stud finder and find the most central stud where the case sits. Do not drill into the drywall because it can pull out. When you locate the stud, put on safety glasses and drill two holes corresponding to the holes on the strap.

  2. Tap in the wall anchors with a hammer. Move the bookcase back to its original position and measure where the strap meets with the back of the shelf. The straps are normally 2 inches wide. Move the bookcase away from the wall. Measure where the central point of the strap meets the bookcase. Mark with a pencil. Then draw a straight horizontal line 1 inch from each side of this mark.

  3. Place the strap against the wall with the longest end facing the ceiling. Insert the bottom screw first, with the large washer on the outside of the strap. Drill into place. Place the second screw in the top hole with the washer on the outside and drill into place. Check to see if it is secure.

  4. Drill a hole on the back of the bookcase at one end of the marked line. Take the jigsaw and place it through the hole and cut along the line. It should be wide enough to fit the strap through.

  5. Take the second part of the strap and place it on the bottom of the shelf to which it will be anchored. Remember that there are two ways to anchor this. Some straps use power glue strips and some use small but heavy-duty screws. If it is the glue strip type, remove the backing and secure it so that it matches up exactly with the slot in the back. If it is a screw-type system, go to the Section 2.

  6. Move the bookcase back into place. Pull the wall-anchored strap through the slot and make sure it lines up cleanly. Do not attach if it does not. Adjust the bookcase for a perfect fit. When the fit is perfect, push the wall-anchored strap, which will be the bottom one, firmly against the top one. Test the connection by pulling on the bookcase.

  7. Place items back in bookcase.

Screw-Anchor System

  1. Place the strap on the shelf that will be the anchor. Mark the holes where the screws will go with a pencil. Remove the shelf below it if you can.

  2. Drill on pencil marks just deep enough, about a 1/4 inch, on the target shelf.

  3. Place the strap on the shelf, making sure the holes are lined up. Drill in the outside anchor screw and washer unit. Do the same thing for the hole closest to the shelf.

  4. Move the bookcase into position. Make sure the straps match up perfectly. Firmly push the two sections of Velcro together. Pull on the bookcase to make sure it is secured.

  5. Place the items back in the bookcase.


  • It is not advisable to have small children around while working, because the shelves may tip over much more easily when not loaded.

About the Author

Philip Powe started writing in 1987 for St. Louis area newspapers. He has since written for "St. Clair County Historical Society Journal" and the "American Association of State and Local Historians Journal." Concentrations are in home and garden, philosophy and history. Powe holds a Master of Arts in intellectual history from Southern Illinois University.