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I cannot figure out how this shelf is hung. The old man that built it said that I could “do pull ups on it” when I moved in, now I’m understanding why. Initially thought that the screws at the top were possibly angled into the wall. Upon taking 5/7 out it seems that it still isn’t budging. I asked him if the dowels on the face were into the wall when I first saw the shelf, but he said no. I'm coming here because I don’t think he wants me to know how to get it down.

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    There are probably more screws under those round plugs in the bottom piece. There are at least four plugs I can see. They might be glued on so removing them might mean using a drill.
    – crip659
    Jun 19, 2023 at 22:32
  • That is the case, but now I can’t get those screws to even budge a little. Jun 19, 2023 at 22:54
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    Removing the glue from the head will help. They look like #3 or #4 phillipes
    – crip659
    Jun 19, 2023 at 23:41
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    are you planning to put this back sometime in the future? Jun 20, 2023 at 2:48
  • The real answer is a Sawzall. Multipurpose/metal cutting blade between the wall and the shelf. If it is ridiculously securely attached to the wall then removal will likely cause some wall damage anyway.
    – Josh King
    Jun 20, 2023 at 19:30

5 Answers 5

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Maybe he put epoxy in the holes :-)

  • I would try a screw extractor.

  • If that fails then drill out the screw heads and concentrate on removing the shelf first.

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You might have a chance, but you didn't help your chances any by sticking various screwdrivers into this mess without cleaning it out FIRST.

Get all that junk/glue/whatever the heck out of the screwhead recess. It prevents the screwdriver from seating fully, which just helps to strip the screwhead.

Grab a nice SHARP bit of the correct size (yes, screwdrivers have "sharp" and "dull" though for most people "new" and "worn" could be substituted as sharpening a screwdriver bit (or "fettling" it if you want to be picky) is a rare skill these days. The edges should be crisp so it will bite the somewhat abused screwhead. With the crud out of the hole the right size should be easily seen by how the driver fits into the recess.

Then, ideally, pop your nice sharp bit in your handheld manual impact driver, set it by twisting counterclockwise, and smack the back end with a hammer. You can use a powered impact driver, but the hammer-powered one is more reliable about not slipping, as the hammer reliably drives it in while the mechanism makes it turn. If using a powered one, push really hard.

Image from https://www.mcmaster.com/products/manual-impact-drivers/ just a happy customer. I picked the image showing the hammer in use for clarity - the one I actually own has a square drive which will drive sockets as shown, but also includes an impact-rated square to hex adapter and screwdriver bits.

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There are likely screws behind the plugs on the front. Try to pry them out with a screwdriver to expose the screws. If not, try pulling out the pegs and see if they are hidden behind those.

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  • There are, I tried a couple different bits and can’t seem to get them out. Jun 19, 2023 at 23:22
  • The head is shot and you can't modify it because it's recessed. Next step IMO is an extractor bit. Buy a set, read the instructions, watch some youtubes, give it a go.
    – jay613
    Jun 19, 2023 at 23:28
  • Quite likely behind some of the coat pegs, but I'd guess not all
    – Chris H
    Jun 20, 2023 at 10:47
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An alternative or complement to Ecnerwal's impact is to use diamond powder between the screw and screwdriver. This is sold commercially as Screw Grab. I've read it's very similar to lapping paste if that's easier to get your hands onto.

The stuff is pretty amazing. I have yet to encounter a case where I couldn't either remove the screw or shear the head off.

You should still clean the screw head first, of course.

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It looks like the top screws attach the shelf to the back and sides and the side screws attach the sides to the back.

the attachment of the back to the wall may be behind the plugs on the back, or it may be by concealed keyholes. or possibly both.

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