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I want to put three shelves into an alcove, as pictured below. The shelves will be pretty basic 20mm timber rectangles with one or two braces; once they're all secured I'm planning to put plasterboard over them and repaint the wall.

The tricky bit is how to secure them. There are plenty of studs on the back wall, but I want the shelves to be relatively shallow, which means they won't reach to the studs on the side walls - which is where I'd really like to anchor to avoid the front sagging forward under load. I don't want big visible brackets hanging under them. I've seen people do some crazy stuff for floating shelves where you put threaded rod right through the shelf and a stud behind it, but I'm wary of anything I haven't seen done outside a Youtube video.

My current idea is to open up the gyprock on the left and right and use angle brackets to put in floating studs (probably secured off the noggins / cross-members between "real" studs) right where I'd need it to be for my shelves. I'd have to patch the plaster up but it seems particularly secure and I'm painting anyway. Is this a stupid idea? The idea of being able to put a self tapper through that leading edge right into solid timber makes me feel a lot better about putting any serious weight on them.

These shelves are just going to hold books, but given the width I expect it'll be a decent amount of weight. Shout out if you think 20mm / 3/4" pine won't be able to take that kind of span without bowing, or if there are other obvious things I'm missing!

A U-shaped alcove between three walls

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    Are you sure you want to do that? My experience with drywall platforms is that they accumulate dust like mad and show scuffs and dents easily. You're also going to have a bear of a time taping the corners between. And all that corner bead to nail on. Uggh.
    – isherwood
    Mar 22 at 12:53
  • Interesting point! I've never made a drywall platform before but I really wasn't looking forward to six lots of beading (and that's just outside corners - lots of taping on the insides too). I'd be doing that part purely for aesthetics - maybe I could leave the pine unfinished, or prime and paint it to match? Mar 23 at 4:42
  • Stained and varnished pine looks very nice if done well. I like natural wood in my homes.
    – isherwood
    Mar 23 at 12:40

2 Answers 2

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Putting horizontal bracing between the studs on the side walls so you can screw proper shelf supports (of whatever design you choose) would be the ideal way of dealing with this issue.

Normally, blocking is nailed through the stud and into the end of block. Doing so in your case would require opening up 3 stud bays, 1 for the block and 1 on each side to gain nailing access. For strength, that would probably be the "ideal" way of doing it, but it's going to require a lot more refinishing work and you may determine that's not worth it.

You could toe-nail the blocking in place. Drive a nail at about a 45° angle into the blocking and then the stud. One nail on each end from above and below the blocking would probably do it, especially if the blocks were accurately cut and were a snug fit. You do not want to nail into the face of the blocking or studs, as you're likely to leave things sticking out that will impact getting the drywall replaced smoothly. This will impact a small patch piece more than it would a full sheet. For toe-nailing, I've found it's much easier to use a framing nailer to drive the nails as it's much less likely to have the piece being nailed move from the one swift blow of the nailer than it is when hand hammering a nail. Maybe it's my lack of experience/technique. You could also use screws for this particular application. I'd be happy using some 4" framing screws to hold up some shelving.

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  • Thanks! How would you mount those in-wall braces to the pre-existing studs? Ninety degree metal brackets top + bottom + left + right? I don't actually know how a noggin is normally attached. Mar 22 at 12:40
  • @penitent_tangent note the updated answer.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 22 at 12:48
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There are welded metal floating shelf hangers on Etsy. Fantastic products. That is probably what you are looking for. Not sure on the link to the third party source...

enter image description here

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  • Cool idea - do they look like cylinders that project from the wall? Found a few options on Google. Mar 22 at 12:44
  • I added a photo. If they are carrying a lot of weight, make sure to use cabinet grade screws and you may want to cut out drywall and replace with a wood backer. I have several of these in my kitchen that hold plates and glasses and they are great. You do need a router for the back of the shelving along with a large drill bit and guide.
    – Evil Elf
    Mar 22 at 16:12

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