Step 40: Install a Built-In Shelving Unit - Installation

Picture of Install a Built-In Shelving Unit - Installation
The shelf can occupy the space between one or two studs, or a custom width. During construction, I specifically left out a stud, in order to install my shelves. These shelves will be installed after the stud walls are in, but before the drywall is up.

First you will need to decide on shelf heights. Using your CDs, DVDs and other knick knacks as a reference, work out the heights of the shelves you'll be installing. I decided on four CD-height shelves, and two DVD-height shelves. When measuring, make sure you include the width of the wood and leave a gap for easier removal of the CDs and other media. To make it easier, I cut two short pieces of the shelf board to use as spacers, equivalent to the height of a CD plus the gap.

Start at the bottom of the shelf. Place a 2x4 horizontally across the bottom, equivalent to the height of three 2x4s. Make sure it's level. Screw it in place, using construction screws, through the stud and into the end of the horizontal piece. Do the same thing at the top of the shelf.

The wall behind my shelf is rough concrete, which needed to be covered with something smooth and even. If the wall behind your shelf is just the back of a piece of drywall, then you can leave it as-is. Otherwise, read on. Measure and cut out a piece from the shelf backing board, to fit from ceiling to floor and across the span of the studs supporting the shelf. Slide it behind the stud wall, between the studs and concrete. Glue it into place against the studs, using wedges to hold the backing sheet against the studs.

Now, cut a piece of shelf board to fit between the studs, and fit it in place on top of the bottom horizontal stud. Using the carpenter's square, scribe a line from the center of the shelf board around to the other side of the stud. Drive two screws through the stud along the line and into the shelf, on both ends.

Using the spacers, work your way up the shelf, cutting shelf boards to fit and screwing them into place. Make sure the shelf is level both side to side and front to back, using the short bubble level. Be careful when turning in the screws with the power drill - the shelf boards are thin. The screws should be driven perfectly perpendicular to the stud, and at slightly lower speed than normal.