How to Replace Plastic Shelf Clips in Kitchen Cabinets

Written by jane smith
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How to Replace Plastic Shelf Clips in Kitchen Cabinets
Replace plastic shelf clips with full-depth wooden supports if your shelves regularly hold heavy loads. (Don Farrall/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Plastic shelf support clips have three basic designs: a small plastic triangle, 1/8-inch to 3/8-inch thick, with a horizontal face, 1/4-inch to 1-inch long, where the shelf will rest. It also has a 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch diameter pin set parallel to the horizontal face, above or below it 1/4-inch to 1-inch, tapped or pushed into pre-drilled holes. The second has a hooked rest, designed for wire shelves. The third is a two-piece cylinder.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Replacement clips, same style, in metal, if available
  • Tweezers
  • Tongs or vice grips
  • Screw, 1/8-inch smaller diameter than shelf pin
  • Propane torch
  • Screwdriver
  • Power drill and bit set
  • 1/2-inch by 1-inch or 1-inch by 2-inch stock lumber, cut to shelf depth
  • Box of brass wood screws or finishing nails

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Instructions

    Triangle and Hook Clips with Pins

  1. 1

    Pull the broken clip from its hole using your fingers, if enough of it is intact for you to grip. Insert your replacement clip if you succeed.

  2. 2

    Try again using tweezers, if you were not successful. Insert your replacement clip if the old clip slides from the hole.

  3. 3

    Clamp a steel screw that is 1/8-inch smaller in diameter than the clip pin in a pair of tongs or vice grips. Do not use galvanised or brass screws for this process, unless you ban everyone from the area, wear a NIOSH-approved respirator and use an industrial ventilation hood.

  4. 4

    Light your propane torch and heat the screw to dark red. Place the screw against the broken pin and twist it into the hole about 1/4-inch, or until it seems to grip inside the pin. Allow the screw to cool for at least and hour.

  5. 5

    Turn and pull the screw once the plastic around it has hardened. It should slide from the hole. If it does, insert a replacement clip, preferably in metal if it is available.

  6. 6

    Drill a new hole, 1/16-inch to 1/8-inch larger in diameter than the old hole. Use replacement clips whose pins match the diameter of your chosen drill bit.

    Two-Piece Cylindrical Clips

  1. 1

    Insert a flathead screwdriver in the gap between the clip and the pole where it has been clamped, snapped together or slid into place.

  2. 2

    Pop two-piece clips apart. Use the screwdriver to push one-piece clips off the end of the pole or pipe.

  3. 3

    Fit the new clip pieces together and click them into place.

  4. 4

    Replace all other broken clips.

  5. 5

    Slide the shelf back into place. Place a spirit level on each shelf. Adjust the clips as needed if one shelf is not level while all the others are.

Tips and warnings

  • Plastic shelf clips do not provide enough support for constant or frequent heavy loads. Replace clips with 1/2-inch by 1-inch or 1-inch by 2-inch stock lumber cut to the same length as the full shelf depth. Attach them just below the bottom level of each shelf with wood screws or finishing nails if you frequently place heavy loads on your shelves.
  • Alloy metals, such as those used to make galvanised screws, can cause metal fume fever if any vapours are inhaled during heating. Metal fume fever is a potentially fatal condition. Jim "Paw-Paw" Wilson, a metalworking safety instructor at Anvilfire.com, dictated a warning just before his death from metal fume fever, in a posthumous attempt to prevent other metalworkers from experiencing serious, permanent lung damage or death. (See References 1)

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