I'm not experienced in DIY beyond being able to paint stuff. However, recently I've been let down by a number of carpenters and I've decided to build myself some box shelves and want to get an idea to a way I can do this.

I've got a room with two built in wardrobes with a recessed area between them where I intend to make these shelves - so I have three edges I can attach the shelves to (two wood and one is a wall which I think has a blocked up chimney but seems quite solid when I tap it), but no idea really of how to do it. I'm looking at storing books on these shelves, so need them to be able to take some weight.

I've search online and found this site describing how to do it but I fear I don't have the correct tools to be able to make an accurate rabbets. I have a jigsaw and a saw station for it, an impact drill, and screw drivers etc. I'm pretty sure I can do it, but need some guidance.

  • You don't need rabbets. Especially if you're not experienced in DIY. There are many other ways to support the shelf with metal brackets or wooden battens screwed to the wall.
    – MerlinMags
    Jul 9, 2012 at 18:47

2 Answers 2


Go to the hardware store and pick up a miter box and; if it doesn't come with one, a back saw. While your there pick up a set of chisels, that's really all you need to make the shelves.

Here is a good description of how to cut the rabbet by hand using a back saw.

Warning: You may want to practice on some scrap wood until you feel comfortable.

If you don't mind spending the money you could buy a router and a rabbet bit, this would be the fast more efficient way to make the shelves.


I have built many shelves like that. Keep in mind, if you plan on mounting the shelf on one wall only, you will not be able to put any significant load on the shelf. The way I used to build them was similar to to the PM link with one major exception.

The wooden brace the get mounted to the wall should have a few reinforcing sticks attached perpendicular to it (when viewed from the top it should look like a (block W ). Allow a little slop on the inside (make the sticks stop about 1/2" from the front on the inside ) to allow for easy assembly. After you mount the brace to the wall, apply some caulk to the top of the brace and slide the shelf on. Make sure that everything is positioned properly and caulk it to the wall on all sides. A few pins from the top wouldn't hurt either. Let it sit for at least a day before you put anything on it.

  • Thanks for this - is there a resource you could link to as I don't quite understand your description.
    – Martyn
    May 16, 2011 at 15:03

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