Corbels are decorative wood braces used under shelving or mantles. They can be functional, aesthetic or both. Typical corbels used in the home have a 90-degree angle. One side fits against the wall and the other side holds up the shelf. The front of the corbel has a french curve. Corbels can be any size, depending on how big the shelf is. Corbels can be built from solid lumber or plywood. One piece of plywood will yield two corbels.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Hardwood plywood, 3/4-by-24-by-24 inches
- 100-grit sandpaper
- Hand block
Draw a diagonal line from corner to corner on the plywood using a straightedge and a pencil.
Cut the plywood along the line on a bandsaw.
Draw a french curve, starting from the sharp point on the wedge, down to the other sharp point. To draw a french curve, think of two semicircles joined together end-to-end, one curve facing out, one curve facing in. French curves do not need to be proportional, you can use your imagination and design your french curve any way you want.
Cut along the french curve with a bandsaw.
Sand the french curve with 100-grit sandpaper attached to a hand block.
Tips and warnings
- You can add two screw cleats, 3/4-by-3/4-by-22 inches to the back of the corbel to attach it to the wall, or you can drill a hole through the bottom of the french curve and screw it to the wall from there.
- A 24-inch shelf can hold a lot of weight. Be sure to take that into consideration when building shelves with corbels. For weights over 34 Kilogram, you should build corbels out of 1 1/4 inch lumber instead of plywood.