Introduction: How to Install Standard-and-Bracket Book Shelves
Do you have more books than shelf space? Give yourself some extra storage space by installing standard-and-bracket shelves. Installing these types of shelves is very easy, and won't take much time. You'll spend more time rearranging your books than actually installing the shelves.
Step 1: Motivation
I wanted to put all of our various books and magazines in one spot to start on my eventual goal of having a multiple story library, complete with ladders, spiral staircases, and secret doors. Here's a motivational picture I took of the library in a monastery in Lima, Peru.
I already had a few hand-built bookcases, like these, but I needed more space, and I wanted them attached to the wall.
Step 2: Cost and Tools
The ease of installing stand-and-bracket shelving comes at a cost.
I spent $100 at Home Depot getting 3 standards (the rails), 15 brackets, 5 10 in x 48 in shelves, and screws (I used 2 in and 1 1/4 in).
Stud finder (I prefer using a magnet)
Step 3: Find the Studs, Install the Standards
Clear our the area where you want install shelves. Then, find and mark the location of studs (again, I prefer using a magnet). Install the first standard with screws. Here, I used 2 in long screws to secure the standard. After you've installed the first screw, ensure the standard is vertical with a level and install the rest of the screws.
In many houses, the studs will be spaced 16 in apart on center (meaning the stud's centers are 16 in apart). In older houses, the studs might be 12 in apart, and more difficult to find behind plaster and lathe. If you can't find a stud, some people say it's OK to use a drywall anchor or a toggle bolt. I don't agree with this thinking for anything other than hanging pictures in very specific places on a wall. If you are going to put any amount of books or other weight on a shelf, that shelf should be attached to something solid.
If you don't have studs, or they aren't at the right location, install a 2x4 or 2x6 flat against the wall anchored into something solid, and attach the standards to this "kicker plate" (I don't know what this is properly called, so I'll just use climbing-wall terminology). I've anchored kicker plates with lag screws into studs, and with masonry bolts into both bare concrete and bricks, or masonry behind plaster and lathe. In the images, you can see a kicker plate I attached with lag screws to studs in the garage; bike hooks are screwed into this kicker plate in specific places.
Step 4: Install the Other Standards
Mount the other standards to the wall. Attach two brackets and use the level as a shelf to ensure the shelves will sit horizontally. Again, with one screw installed, make sure the standard is vertical with the level.
It's possible to do this by yourself by holding the drill in awkward positions, but get a second hand if possible.
Step 5: Book Back Stop
I took a few scrap pieces of wood to create a back stop for the books. Without the backstop, if you pushed the books against the wall, you can't slide them past the standards.
Step 6: Arrange Books
Arrange, alphabetize, or sort your books by color. For me, this was the longest part of the project.
Step 7: Screw Shelves to Brackets
I live in an earthquake-prone area. So, after I was satisfied with the height of the shelves, I drove 1 1/4 in screws through the brackets into the shelves.