I am going to build a set of shelves for my wall to hold my bead jars. The shelves are narrow 4" nominal and very close together 3" is the farthest apart they will be. I'm using quality pine 1"x4"x3'. I'm extremely new at this, but am assuming I should use screws instead of nails. Any help would be fabulous.

  • 4
    Not sure what you are asking about. Are you screwing boards together (sides or backs on the shelves) or are you asking about hanging hardware?
    – bib
    Jan 8, 2014 at 19:18

3 Answers 3


Depending how you make your joints, if you choose to use screws, they need to go into the joining piece at least 3/4"-1" deep, and deeper when going into the end of a piece, 1 1/2" is a good depth, For this you can use a 2" screw, countersunk a little. The drawing below, may have a little more info than what you are looking for, but it will give you options if you choose. Shelf section

I would suggest putting a 1/4" thick plywood back, thinner will work too if available. I have cut this with a razor knife if you do not have a table saw. The back can be nailed on with 1' brads after the shelves are assembled

Box screws

If you are not concerned about the looks and it will be a utility type shelf these are the screws I would use. Still nail the back on with 1" brads Shelfcs1cs2c3cs4

Any of these countersinks will do what you need, make sure you keep your drill perpendicular to the wood and in the center of the shelf for the thickness, about 3/4" from the edge from the front and back.

  • Jack thank you for the information and diagrams. One more question, what tool do I use in order to counter sink the screw? I know this will sound ridiculous to most, but I want to learn and do this right.
    – user19100
    Jan 9, 2014 at 19:47
  • I will add the illustrations to the answer above, they are called countersinks. They come in various sizes and styles. there is a chance you will need to purchase a set, most likely you will not be able to get the single one you need, which will be for a 6 or 8 gauge screw. The counterbore as they call it, the recess made by the countersink will be 3/8" in diameter. there are wood plugs that are ready made to fill the hole (counterbore), or you can fill the hole with putty to make it less utilitarian of a look.
    – Jack
    Jan 9, 2014 at 21:24

As a newbie, I'd do it like this: Get 4 pine boards and screw them together into a nice shelf sized rectangle. Nail a piece of 1/8" fibreboard or plywood to the back to stabilize the shape. Get more boards for the individual shelves. (these'll have to be cut about 1/2" shorter than the inside of the case's rectangle to accomodate hardware described below) Get some bookcase shelf supports and strips: Like this: enter image description here You'll need a total of 4 strips, and 4 supports for every shelf you want. Look around for these, prices vary greatly, but they shouldn't be all that expensive. Screw the support strips into the inside of your wooden fram, and put in the shelf supports where you want them. You're done. This design has the advantage that when you suddenly find yourself with some 5 inch bead jars, you'll be able to adjust the shelving without starting an entire new woodworking project.

I use 2" drywall screws for all my rough carpentry projects. They offer plenty of support, without having to do any routing. 5/8" woodscrews will serve to attach the strips to the sides of the shelves. Oh yes, always drill pilot holes when screwing deeply into pine. The wood loves to split.

  • +1 for pilot holes. Oak (also available in shelf-size boards at the local big home improvement store) is a bit more forgiving. :-)
    – JJC
    Jan 9, 2014 at 15:23

Wood screws are probably your best bet. They don't need to be huge, but at least 1-1/4" or so. I'd also highly recommend predrilling holes with a wood drill bit prior to setting the screws or you could crack the wood. Nails would probably work too.

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