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Build a strong sense of shelf; Many older homes have chimney breasts, offering a great opportunity for storage in the alcoves. With three kids and all the kit they come with, builder Richard Burr's shelves are often overloaded. Here are his top tips for building secure storage.

1MEASURE EACH SHELF Think about what will be going on the shelves. If I'm building bookshelves, I'll make the bottom one or two shelves taller for larger books. The walls aren't necessarily going to be straight, so you will need measurements for each individual shelf. Once you've decided where your shelves will be, use a spirit level to draw a straight line in pencil, along the back of the wall, for each shelf. If you don't have a spirit level, there are apps on your smartphone to do the job. Record the length of each shelf. Next, measure the depth of the alcove, or how deep you want your shelves to be, bearing in mind you may put a wood fascia on the front.

2CHOOSE THE RIGHT WOOD I use two types of wood for sturdy shelves: 18mm MDF and prepared timber, 25 x 50mm. This is also called PAR (planed all round) timber. You may also want to put a fascia on front of your shelf, so will need thin wood, for example 13mm x 70mm prepared timber. You'll be using the MDF for the shelf, the 25 x 50mm prepared timber to make a frame for the shelf to sit on, and the 13mm x 70mm prepared timber for your fascia. You'll also need the following tools: tape measure; panel saw (even if you've had wood pre-cut, you may need to adjust it); drill with 7mm masonry bit, 5mm high-speed bit & Phillips head screw bit; spirit level (or app); Phillips screwdriver; twopart filler; 60-90 grade sandpaper; scraper; brown Rawlplugs; 5 x 70mm screws; 5 x 50mm screws; 40mm panel pins; hammer.

3 LEARN HOW TO SAW PROPERLY Most DIY stores and timber yards will cut your wood for you. If you're making two shelves, you'll need the following materials: 4 x long pieces of 25 x 50mm prepared wood to the width of the alcove; 4 x short pieces of 25 x 50mm prepared wood to the depth of the alcove, minus the depth of the front and back pieces of wood, and the fascia if you're having one; 2 x rectangular pieces of MDF to be your shelves; 2 x long pieces of 13mm x 70mm prepared wood for your fascia.

If you want to saw your own wood with a panel saw, work outside, as MDF dust will get everywhere. You need something solid to lean on. A work bench is ideal and you can pick one up new for about PS10. When you've measured your wood and drawn your line on it, the safest way to use a panel saw is to put your thumb on the flat surface of the saw (see right) as a guide to get your cut started. This will stop the blade from wobbling about and doing you damage. If you're nervous, work slowly and gently. Once you've cut through the first bit of wood, your thumb won't need to hold the blade any more. Use the full length of the saw, forward and backwards, smoothly.

4MEASURE OUT DRILL HOLES If you're building shelves in an alcove next to a fireplace, it's likely to be a brick wall, so you'll need a drill. Check there are no plug sockets above or below where you're drilling. If there are, don't drill in the space directly above or below where your socket is. Take your long piece of wood for the back of the frame and, with your 5mm high-speed bit, drill three holes in it - one in middle and the others about 10cm away from each of the ends. Hold this piece of wood against the line you've drawn for your shelf. Put the drill back through the hole and lightly tap the trigger to make an indentation in the wall to show where you'll need to drill. Swap 7mm masonry bit and drill three holes in wall. Insert Rawlplugs - you may need to knock these in with a hammer to make them flush against the wall. Poke your 70mm screws through your wood, position in place so the screws sit against the Rawlplugs, then screw in with your Phillips screwdriver (or Phillips drill bit) until the wood is tightly fixed. If you accidentally go off level with this piece of wood, a light tap with your hammer will get it back in place. Repeat process for short ends, but use two holes/screws instead of three. To put the front of frame on, drill two holes at each end of long wood, about 12mm in. Screw front of the frame to the side sections, two 70mm screws at each end. Lay cut shelf on top of this. To attach shelf to frame, you'll drill through the MDF. You'll know when to stop as MDF is easier to drill than wood. You need three 50mm screws down into the back piece, two 50mm screws into each side, and for added strength, five 50mm screws into the front of frame. Use your drill to screw these together. You will find it too awkward to drill vertically, so do this slightly diagonally - just make sure the screw heads sink into the surface of the shelf.Nail on your fascia to the front of your shelf using panel pins.

5 FILL IN YOUR SCREW HOLES AND PAINT Mix up your two-part filler on the lid of its pot and work fast, as it dries quickly. Use your scraper to cover all the screw holes on the top of the shelf and the panel pins on the fascia, leaving it a little bit proud of the flat surface, so you have something to sand off once it's set. Vacuum everything up, then paint your shelves with a decent primer undercoat and top coat with whatever suits your room, for
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 18, 2017
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