How to Make a Hanger Slot in a Shelf

Written by jonah morrissey
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How to Make a Hanger Slot in a Shelf
Rout hanger slots in the back of floating shelves to conceal mounting screws. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Hanger slots in shelves allow you to hang shelves on the wall without exposing any mounting hardware. The slots are shaped like a keyhole. The large hole in the keyhole allows you to slide the head of a screw into the back and then slide down to the end of the slot. These can be cut with a plunge router and a keyhole bit or a smaller rotary tool with a plunge router attachment and bit. This technique can be applied to many other wall-mounted projects, such as plaques and key hooks.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Work bench
  • Bench clamps
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Plunge router
  • Keyhole bit
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Safety goggles
  • Ear plugs

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  1. 1

    Place the wooden shelf on a work bench with the back side facing up. Clamp the shelf to the work surface with bench clamps.

  2. 2

    Mark the location of the hanger slot with a tape measure and pencil. Center the slot in the width of the shelf. Mark the starting location of the slot and the slot length. The starting location is where the large hole will be located. It is at the bottom of the slot. The slot length should be approximately 1 inch. This is where you will stop the router cut.

  3. 3

    Insert the keyhole bit into the router. Adjust the plunge depth to 1/2 inch.

  4. 4

    Turn on the router and centre it over the starting location of the slot. Plunge the router into the surface of the wood at the starting location until you have reached the full plunge depth. Hold it at that depth and move the router across the surface of the wood to cut the slot. Stop at the end of the marked slot length. Turn the router off and remove it from the slot once the blade has stopped moving.

  5. 5

    Remove the clamps from the shelf. Sand the surface of the shelf around the keyhole slot lightly in the direction of the grain, using fine-grit sandpaper.

Tips and warnings

  • Make a paper template if you are routing slots for several of the same type of shelves.
  • Wear eye and ear protection when operating a router.

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