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Fitting a shelf in a corner

Fitting a shelf in a corner of a room is often convenient as it can be an awkward place to use for other purposes. Being basically a triangular space, the shelf will generally only be usable for small objects, a plant etc.

Timber battens (50x18mm (2x¾  inch) planed timber) fixed to the walls either side of the corner will provide all the support needed for most situations - see below for an alternative method to support the shelving using metal angle, this can give a 'cleaner' appearance.

Various shapes can be used for the shelving although triangular or 'quarter round' are the most convenient - remember that any part of the shelf projecting forward of a line between the ends of the supports is not effectively supported.

Options for corner shelves

Using wooden batten supports.

  • Start by fitting a support batten to one wall.
    • corner shelving side support options Cut a length of timber (50x18mm (2x¾  inch) planed) to about 38mm (1½ inch) less than the side measurement for the shelf. Cut the rear square across the timber, cut the front at a slight angle so that the lower side will be slightly back - this will improve the look. (NOTE: see figures right, the upper figure is as described; if a front support batten is going to be fitted to the shelf, cut the side batten shorter to clear the support batten, and there is no need to angle the front end).
    • Drill and, if necessary, countersink holes for the fixing screws equally spaced along the centreline of the batten. Normally just 2 holes will suffice unless the shelving is exceptionally deep. For timber frame walls you will have to match the spacing of the vertical members.

Tip: If the supports are going to be painted, rub them down and apply primer/ undercoat before fixing them to the walls - then fill in the screw head recesses and apply top coat.

Fitting the supports

  • Corner shelving support battensFit the first support
    • Offer up one of the support battens against the wall at one side of the corner at the required height and set it level using a spirit level. Keep a clearance of just over the thickness of the timber between the end nearest the corner and the corner itself. Mark through the fixing holes on to the wall.
    • Drill masonry walls to take suitable wall plugs and fix the batten in place using screws which enter the wall at least 38mm (1½ inch). For timber frame walls, drill though the plaster board then screw straight into the frame work.
  • Fitting the other support batten.
    • Offer up the other support on the adjoining wall at the required height and level it using a spirit level resting on top of the first support. Mark through the fixing holes on to the wall.
    • Drill masonry walls to take suitable wall plugs and fix the batten in place using screws which enter the wall at least 38mm (1½ inch). For timber frame walls, drill though the plaster board then screw straight into the frame work.
  • Fitting the shelf.
    • Consider that the walls on either side of the corner may not be at rightangles, and that the corner itself may not be a sharp corner - so some fine measurement, cutting and trimming may be necessary.
    • Mark out the shelving plank and cut to size. Most materials are best used with the finished edge or grain across the corner, so
      • Measure the distance across the corner,
      • Transfer this to the edge of the shelf material,
      • At each end, mark the appropriate angle back behind the shelf front - the angle will be 45° for an equal sides shelf, for unequal sided shelves, adjust the angle to suit,
      • Cut both sides of the shelf.
    • Corner shelving should be secured to the supports - drill and countersink a hole through the shelving plank over the middle of each support to accept a screw which can be screwed downwards into the side battens.
  • Shelf support battenFit a support batten underneath (if necessary).
    • Measure across the shelf between the side walls and cut the support batten to size - cut the ends 45° vertically to meet the wall (this is assuming an equal sided shelf - adjust the angles if the shelf sides are unequal).
    • Mark across the shelf the line for the batten (keep the line straight between the side walls even if the front edge of the shelf is curved)
    • Drill and countersink the shelf to accept the fixing screws - fix the support batten using glue and screws.
      NOTE: fixing the batten from above the shelf is OK when the shelf is above eye level but the screw heads do not look very nice when viewed from above unless the shelf is painted to hide them.

Alternative support for corner shelving.

Alternative corner shelving supportAn alternative to using wooden battens to support corner shelving is to use metal angle (aluminium - 18mm (¾  inch) will suit most shelving needs) to form a ledge around the corner to support the shelving as shown right.

The basic method of fitting the support is the same as above for the wooden battens i.e.

  • Measure, cut, drill and fix the first side support but use dome head screws instead of countersunk. Drill the holes in the metal angle for securing the shelf before fixing them to the wall.
  • Measure, cut, drill and fix the second side support, again using dome head screws. Use a spirit level to keep the second bracket level with the first.
  • Measure and cut the shelving to fit into the corner resting on the brackets.
  • Mark on the edge of the shelving the positions of the wall screws and then cut recesses in the edges of the shelf to clear the screws - only recess immediately next to the screw heads, not along the full length.
  • Fit and secure the shelf using screws from underneath.
  • Fit the support batten if needed.