How to Build Timber Shelving

Written by steve sloane
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How to Build Timber Shelving
Timber shelves can be painter, stained or left untreated to look natural (shelves of library books image by nextrecord from

The first decision to make before preparing the timber (or wood) is what kind of timber to choose. Pine is a popular choice, as it is relatively cheap and strong enough to hold heavier objects like sets of encyclopedias. If a clear stain is used to colour the wood, the grain is also attractive. Oak is more expensive and is popular for those who choose not to treat the wood but leave it in its natural state.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Timber
  • Power saw
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Primer and paint
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Spirit level
  • Pencil
  • Stud finder
  • Wall brackets
  • 1 5/8-inch wood screws
  • Screw driver
  • 1/2-inch wood screws

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  1. 1

    Cut the wood to the required length and remove any splinters with fine sandpaper--always sand with the grain and never against, it as this will scratch the wood.

  2. 2

    Prime the wood if painting or add a clear stain if you choose to change its colour. A coat of polyurethane can be added on top of the stain to promote shine and help protect the wood.

  3. 3

    Hold a spirit level evenly against the wall and draw a pencil line against its top edge.

  4. 4

    Run a stud finder along the line and mark the centres of each wall stud.

  5. 5

    Place a wall bracket against the stud mark closest to one end of the shelf--make sure the top is flush with the level pencil line--and use 1 5/8-inch wood screws to connect it to the wall. Do the same with the bracket at the other end of the shelf.

  6. 6

    Place the shelf on the brackets so the ends are equidistant from the brackets. Use 1/2-inch wood screws to attach the shelf to the brackets.

Tips and warnings

  • Brackets can also be attached to the centre of the shelf and it is advisable to do so if the shelf will hold heavier weights. If there is no stud for the centre bracket, place the bracket against the wall in the shelf centre, mark the screw holes and insert wall plugs into the wall. Then attach the bracket to the wall plugs.

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