Shelving query

21 Oct 2014
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United Kingdom
Not the most engrossing of queries, as this is probably very elementary stuff for most, so I apologise in advance for my ignorance. Basically I'm hoping to put some shelves up either side of my chimney breast. I've decided I wanted to do something of slightly higher quality and better cost-effectiveness than shop bought shelves, but unfortunately I am rather limited in terms of tools and expertise. My plan was therefore to get my local timber seller to cut some wood for me into shelves and then I would put them up. I've done this before and this would be no problem but I've decided I wanted to do floating shelves this time, which I've not done before. My first question is therefore is there a means of simply drilling holes into the shelves for the brackets in similar fashion to how they appear in shop bought shelves? For example one into the back of the shelves to put the shelf on the bracket and one into the base to secure the bracket. This is because all of the diy floating shelves I've come across online have used a sort of box design with multiple pieces of wood, which admittedly look great and look very solid but to be honest they are probably beyond my expertise and tools. My second question is therefore slightly void if I am cutting too many corners and this isn't possible, but I was also wondering what would be the most cost-effective wood for shelves like this? The alcove width is 123cm and I would just be having either books or DVDs on the shelves, nothing of any great weight. I was going to paint the shelves white, so the quality of the wood isn't so important, I just wanted something slightly thicker wood than most shop shelves. Would a fairly thick mdf suffice?
Cheers, any advice that could be provided would be much appreciated.
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1. choose wood, get cut to the correct length for your shelves.
2. mark wall with horizontal lines where your shelves will go
3. install floating shelf brackets at (i'd guess) 50cm centers at most
4. offer up a shelf to the brackets on the wall and mark post positions on shelf
5. drill appropriate size holes (very slightly undersize if possible) in shelf to correspond with bracket posts.
6. push shelf onto brackets.

the problems in doing this DIY rather than shop-bought is that the holes you drill in your shelves must be perfectly level. if you drill at an angle, your shelf will not sit flat. I do not recommend doing this with a simple hand drill. You'll need something that you can clamp the shelf, then plunge cut the hole.

search google for 'floating shelf brackets'

and also bear in mind that a) they will not be as load bearing as traditional shelves and b) the brackets you get will need to be suitable length for the depth of your shelves.

personally, i've had really good results from this company

food for thought, eh?
Cheers for the reply. Thanks for clearing that up as I did figure I could do the shelves in that way as I had done shop floating shelves before and had seen the brackets around, it's just all the suggestions previously had suggested the box method, which is slightly beyond my repertoire - although I realise a very good method. Yeh I did have a few concerns about that holes that need to be drilled into the shelves in terms of the drill, I guess without access to something like a pillar drill I might have to also ask for this to be done by the carpenter - obviously I guess if this gets too expensive I might just be better off with shop shelves. Just a couple more things I'm a little unsure about, which it would be great if you could shed any light on:
1)I've been informed that thick MDF probably isn't robust enough, what would say would be the least expensive wood I would need to bear the load of DVDs and Books without sagging?
2) if I receive the wood untreated, in addition to painting what would you recommend for treating the it, sanding etc?
3)Sorry I didn't entirely understand what you meant about the 50cm centers - if the shelf is 120cm and bearing in mind the load, how many brackets do you think I would need per shelf, is 2 enough or would I need 3?
Cheers, sorry to bombard you with questions, and I hope my denseness isn't too infuriating!
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Q1 - To prevent sagging you can always add a small shelf stud fairly discretely mid point between the shelves.

Q2 - The quality of painting, or any job for that matter, is all in the preparation. Yes, sanding is important for a good looking finish. Untreated wood needs a primer coat (emulsion paint is fine), and undercoat (used to be oil based but many people just use emulsion paint again) then a top coat of gloss paint.

Sand the bare wood well to a fine surface, apply a 'knotting compound' over knots to prevent them showing through (called grinning] later on.

Apply primer coat. When dry, rub down lightly to remove imperfections e.g. dust specs/ wood grain which have raised the paint. Apply undercoat. When dry, again light rub down just enough to take out dust specs etc. Clean off dusts from sanding - many will wipe down with cloth and white spirit.

Then apply top gloss coat. It may be worth investing in a 'mini-roller' and then use a foam roller for gloss paint. It should leave a streak-free finish without brush marks.

Q3 - 50cm centres means the supports would be fixed with the centre point at 50 cm intervals along the shelf. Or, say for those 120cm shelves you might use 2 supports, at 40 cm then 80 cm so that the load is evenly spread across "40cm centres"

EDIT: Forgot! You'd probably find pine is cheapest wood around suitable for shelves. You could always visit your nearest council recycling centre and pick up some 'reclaimed wood'. Usually the guys in attendance are quite helpful that way, and it then costs now't.
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