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Don't be left on the shelf; Home Decor.

BRACKETLESS shelves are now so popular that they're available in all the big DIY chains, as well as a certain Swedish interiors store.

But if you can't find the colour or size you want, you can make them yourself.

One of the best places to put them, is in an alcove, especially either side of a chimney breast.

You first need to decide how many shelves you want and how you're going to stagger them.

Mark pencil guidelines on the wall using a spirit level to ensure the shelves will be straight.

The next stage is to cut the battens of wood that will support the shelves. Start with the rear batten and measure carefully along the back wall (measure again for each batten, as the wall may vary in places).

Score a cutting line onto the batten with a craft knife (use a combination square to get the line square), before cutting it to length using a tenon saw or jigsaw.

Now mark the screw holes on the batten, positioning them about 6cm in from either end and at about 30cm intervals along the batten. Use a centre punch (a pointed hand tool made of hardened steel and shaped a bit like a pencil) and hammer to mark the position of each screw, then drill through.

To attach the batten to the rear wall, hold it up against one of the pencil lines you've drawn and check again that it's level using a spirit level. Now take a bradawl and mark the positions of the screw holes on the wall.

Take the batten away, use the centre punch and hammer on the bradawl marks and drill holes for your Rawlplugs. Push the Rawl-plugs into the holes and screw the batten in place.

If you're drilling into a hollow wall, you'll need screws designed specifically for this, eg toggle or butterfly ones, and for the type of load you're going to put on the shelves, eg heavy, medium or light.

This information should be on the screws' packet.

Attach the side battens in the same way and then one at the front, countersinking the screws for a seamless finish. You can later fill over the countersunk screws with wood filler and, once that's dry, sand smooth.

To create the shelves themselves, use an adjustable bevel to find the angle between the side and back walls, and mark this angle onto the shelf.

Measure up for the shelf and also the angle at the front so it fits snugly onto the battens. Cut the shelf to fit and check that you've got your calculations right by putting it in place before fixing it. Now do the same with the other shelves, but don't assume they'll all be the same size - measure each in turn.

To fix a shelf, drill pilot holes, then take the shelf off so you can enlarge these holes. You'll need two or three screws on each batten, and remember to countersink for a neat finish. Put the shelf back, screw in place and fill the screw holes, as before.

Finish off by priming the shelves with primer, preferably a quick-drying one. Don't forget to seal the knots first with a knot-sealing solution, so the resin doesn't bleed through your paintwork and spoil it.

Next apply undercoat and a topcoat of gloss, satinwood, eggshell or the emulsion-like paints that can be applied to wood, metal and walls.

Who'd have thought that bespoke shelves would be so straightforward?
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 9, 2007
Words:579
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