How do I fasten a shelf bracket correctly? I think I'll need to drive the two upper screws in at an angle?

This is a typical bracket with three screw holes: one at the bottom and two on the top.

The two on the top are on both edges of the bracket which means that I can't drive them into the stud (they'd be on the edge of the stud). Does that means that I'll have to drive the screws in at an angle?

Does this makes the whole arrangement less sturdy?

Here's a picture:



P.S. If I drive the screws into the stud, do I still need to put the screw anchors in (it's drywall).

  • The weight you need to support determines the method. If it is extremely light, like a light decoration, you can just screw straight into the drywall. Screwing down at about a 45 degree angle increases the supportable weight a little and makes the screws less likely to work loose and pull out. Drywall anchors can commonly hold around 50 lbs each (check the holding capacity on the package). So a bracket with three holes gives you 150 lbs per bracket. Drywall crumbles, so if it is a load that moves at all, fastening into drywall can weaken over time. (cont'd)
    – fixer1234
    Apr 23, 2017 at 19:18
  • In that case, or if you are talking about serious weight, you need to screw into a stud. A big enough screw into a stud might handle the weight, with the other screws into the drywall just keeping the bracket from rotating. Or you can supplement the stud screw with drywall anchors on the other holes for more capacity.
    – fixer1234
    Apr 23, 2017 at 19:18

2 Answers 2


If you drive screws into a stud, you generally would not use anchors. There are screws available which go right through the drywall and bite into and grip in the wood stud. In rare cases where you might use anchors in a stud it would not be "drywall" anchors but sleeve anchors which could possibly be used in drywall (but are not the best type for drywall) but are sleeve anchors for fastening screws into hard material of considerable thickness.

Anchors described as "drywall anchors" are usually designed to clamp onto 1/2" or 5/8" drywall and depend on having empty space behind the wallboard. Anchors of this design cannot be used in drywall right over a stud because they must expand on the inside surface of the drywall and if there is a stud there they cannot expand.

Some old resinous studs become very hard with age and it can be hard to drive screws directly into such a stud without drilling a pilot hole which is a little larger than recommended (but not so large that the screws don't bite well). I nearly always use wax lubricant on screws going into studs. Once I was attaching grab bars through drywall into old, hard studs in a bathroom. I resorted to drilling 3/8" diameter holes and inserting plastic anchors in to the holes, essentially treating the wood as it it were concrete. But I was very careful to get those large holes perfectly in the center of the studs.

A drill is not the best tool to use to drive screws into a tough material. There are now "drivers" which pulse or vibrate as the screw is turned. I still don't have one and have to resort to improvising which using a proper driver renders completely unnecessary.

It is sometime necessary to drive screws at a slight angle if the holes do not exactly line up with the studs and this can be done in a way which is perfectly acceptable. But why do you think you will have to do that in your case? Please describe the exact situation you have. How far apart are the holes in the bracket and how does this match up with the location of the studs behind the drywall? How are you locating the studs?

  • Hi Jim. The two top holes are about 1.5 inches apart. That's the width of the stud more of less. The bottom hole is between the two top holes (probably 10 inches to the bottom). So, this means if I drive all the screws in perpendicular to the wall, at least 1 screw will not enter the stud) Apr 23, 2017 at 15:12
  • Then you need to drill new holes in the bracket between the holes that are 1.5" apart. I need to see a diagram or picture of what this bracket looks like. You would not want to try to center this over the stud and angle in screws. Apr 23, 2017 at 20:07
  • So it's better not to drive in screws in at an angle? Apr 24, 2017 at 3:21
  • I left a link to a picture in my original comment. Apr 24, 2017 at 3:29
  • 1
    Now that you show the picture I remember these brackets. My first impression is that they are meant to be attached to wood not studs under drywall. One way to do this on a sheetrocked wall would be to attach 2x4s flat on the drywall with heavy deck screws onto the sheetrock over the studs then attach these brackets to the 3 1/2 inch wide faces of the 2x4s. (or use 1x3s) but for light duty I think you could mount them directly on the drywall over the studs and angle the screws in 40 deg away from perpendicular. Angle one side up and the other down so the screws don't hit each other. Apr 24, 2017 at 4:10

I just hung some shelves using these brackets, following the advice of angling the screws in from either side of the stud. I was surprised at how easy it was to do this. I located each stud center using the nails (with a magnetic stud-finder), and attached the bottom of the bracket on-center. It was then very easy to align the bracket vertically, drill in at an angle from either side, and attach screws at the top. In each of four brackets I attached, I could feel the drill bit going through drywall, then into wood on each side. I’m wondering if that isn’t exactly how these brackets were designed to be used!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.