Making Bespoke Wall Shelves for Alcoves - What Material??

22 Nov 2005
Reaction score
United Kingdom
Hi there,

I want to make use of the alcoves either side of our chimney breast mounted TV. I've searched and searched but can't find any manufactured ones that will fit nicely - the alcoves are 1.4m and 1.75m wide and I want the shelves to span the entire alcove.

I also want to have the shelf deeper both wall sides and curve them in so that they fit flush to the chimney breast at this side. I would like to use MDF as i will get a better finish but think due to the length of the shelves and their use (HI FI seperates/speakers/books) that MDF will bowe.

What material do you suggest to take this weight and to get a nice painted finish, I am thinking either high gloss or Eggshell, imperfection free!?

Lastly - how do you suggest I cut the curve in the shelf, should I make a template of the curve and router them and how do I go about getting even results each time as there will be 4 shelves in each alcove.

Many thanks,

Sponsored Links
You should be able to use MDF for this provided you support the front edge as well as the back and sides; you could screw a batten to the underside, flush with the chimney breast, which would help conceal the side support battens, and have the front edge of the shelf overhanging the front batten.

It's a good idea to make a template for cutting the curve; this ensures it's easy to make identical cuts. Use a piece of hardboard or ply; have someone hold the template up in the shelf position so that can see what the shape looks like, and make sure you're happy with it.

Cut the curves roughly with a jigsaw, then use a bearing guided bit to cut to finished size. Beware MDF dust: nasty stuff. Use dust extraction, and wear a mask.

Before you fix the shelves, consider any cable/plug holes you want to incorporate and drill these where you want them near the back edge(s).
Thanks very much - have read about MDF being carcinogenic, unfortunately this was after I cut all the skirting boards for our house with a power saw and no extraction!!

Thanks for the help, will give it a go (with a mask). Not looking forward to painting the MDF though!!

At that span it will be best to make a"torsion box" basically two sheets of MDF with a frame between them, all glued together, this will be far more rigid than a single sheet.

For the best paint finish use MR (moisture resistant) MDF as it has a far less "fluffy" cut edge.

Take a look at this and the next 3 pics, that was made as above, not easy to see the curve but the end view shows it best.

Sponsored Links
As usual, Jason, you put many of the rest of us to shame.

I'm not sure where I'm supposed to look on the pictures for the curved ends. How do you achieve a curved torsion box: kerfed MDF?
You can see the curved front on the section between LH rad and the TV, all the shelves are also a similar curve.


The shelves were formed from two layers of 12mm MR MDF with strips of 25mm Between including one along the front. The whole lamination was then trimmed to a template using a multitrim bit, like the one in this pic. To avoid any risk of the 3 layers ghosting through a strip of 4mm MR was glued to the shelf fronts.

Very nice and thanks for the reply, I like the idea of laminating them, although a lot harder especially as I want more of a severe curve then that. Will speak to my dad as he's a joiner (I asked on here as it's a lot simpler to get a straight answer!!) and will be doing all the routering!.

What did you paint yours with Jason?

Thanks again all!!
I usually use oil based eggshell but those do look a bit reflective so may have been satinwood or even gloss, can't remember now.

You can do tighter curves with the same method, the two corbells supporting this hood are made the same way.

Superb - thanks again.

Last question, how long did all that take you and what sort of cost?

DIYnot Local

Staff member

If you need to find a tradesperson to get your job done, please try our local search below, or if you are doing it yourself you can find suppliers local to you.

Select the supplier or trade you require, enter your location to begin your search.

Are you a trade or supplier? You can create your listing free at DIYnot Local

Sponsored Links