What is the name of bracket type where a shelf sits in a closet or space between two walls but only flat wooden bars screwed into the wall on each side are holding it up rather than brackets? And what is the trick to doing these? A certain type of wood? A ratio of weight to thickness? Thanks for any help. I don't even know what to call these when I search.

I've got an alcove with a door and I'd like to put a shelf above the door and in another part of the alcove. Walls are pretty close together, maybe 75cm - 1m.

1 Answer 1


They probably have a few names, but I've always called them shelf cleats.

There's no real trick to them...they are exactly as you describe: strips of wood attached to the wall for a board (the shelf) to rest upon.

You typically want them on 3 walls, though (sides and back). Without the back cleat, your shelf will likely sag with any weight on it.

Make sure they are anchored through wall into the studs.

I will often add a piece to the front of the shelf the same depth as the cleats to give the front of the shelf a finished look and also strengthen the shelf.

  • That's perfect thanks. I always see this with people mentioning the studs but the problem is, maybe it's the places I've lived, I don't pick up any studs with my scanner in the areas I want the shelf to go. It seems I can NEVER get studs where I want them. What do I do if this alcove is nothing but plaster and drywall? Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 5:49
  • Well, it's likely plaster OR drywall. Do you know which it is? It's hard to find studs through plaster. If it's a shallow closet, there may not actually be a stud in the center of the side walls, but there should be a stud at the edge of each each corner, so you should be able to at least attach in those two spots.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 5:52
  • Does it also work to leave out the cleat on the back wall and use a reinforcing strip on the bottom of the shelf the same depth as the cleats just as on the front? This keeps the back wall clear and is how adjustable shelves are supported in cabinets. Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 12:39
  • @JimStewart yep, that could work.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 15:40
  • @DA01 This is a mansion from 1892 that has been broken up into two apartments on the main floor and a couple of offices on the second floor. There is drywall and walls inserted all over the place. In this particular case we're talking about drywall but the other problem is that my Bosch scanner (Bosch PDO6) finds electricity EVERYwhere. It detects it but not RIGHT underneath but I'm always afraid I'm gonna go through a cable. I've never lived in a modern place so I don't know modern wiring in walls at all. New York, Paris, and now Quebec City. All 100 year old apartments. :) Commented Dec 6, 2016 at 19:54

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