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I am fixing a shelf in my closet. The shelf rests along a piece of wood nailed to the wall. That wood that is acting as a base for the shelf has separated from the wall. Apparently whoever built this didn't secure it to the studs, but instead nailed it to the drywall and just got lucky that they never put any weight on the shelf.

I pulled/snipped all the nails and will be using screws to fasten the base back to the wall before replacing the shelf.

Anyway the wood is slightly warped. I can press against it to flatten it, but I can't do that while also drilling new holes and adding the screws. Since this is inside a closet, I figure I can find something like a Ratcheting Cargo Bar or the reverse of a ratchet clamp to press against the opposing wall to hold it in place. The space is slightly less than 2 feet wide.

Does a tool like this exist and what is it called?

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    Either your screws will pull the board tight or you'll punch a hole in the opposite wall trying to force it to do so. You're asking the wrong question (what some would call an xy scenario). Instead, ask how to resolve the actual problem. Is the cleat 1x4 pine or something else? A photo would be great.
    – isherwood
    Jan 31 '18 at 18:12
  • You may have found your product, Ratcheting Cargo Bar, although the shortest I've seen is 40". The Harbor Freight version appears to be something easily modified by cutting it to the desired length and re-assembling the ratchet mechanism. Inexpensive as well, you'd want to have load distribution boards on the non-shelf-bracket wall to prevent break-through.
    – fred_dot_u
    Jan 31 '18 at 19:41
  • @isherwood ended up giving me the best tip. I went out and got screws with an unthreaded shank that was wider than the cleat. They did the job of pulling it flat again without needing to use a shim or spreader.
    – fishpen0
    Feb 2 '18 at 19:20
  • Cool. Feel free to make that an answer and accept it so the question is resolved.
    – isherwood
    Feb 2 '18 at 19:21
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The comment is correct but there is an answer.

Measure accurately the length between the pressed in wood support and the opposite wall. Cut a 2X4 to this length Minus half an inch or so. With some paper or such on the wall opposite to protect the paint put the 2X4 against the shelf support and add more wood to shim it into place. Shims are sold as very thin wood wedges and it would take several of those. That might be tough to manage. Once you see the goal as I describe it the solution will be seen within the pieces you have.

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The proper solution ended up being to use screws with an unthreaded shank wider than the cleat. This allowed the screw to pull the cleat back into the wall without needing to apply additional pressure with a shim or other tool.

Thanks to Isherwood for pointing this out.

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