Our liquor cabinet has the usual row of holes drilled on either side for height-adjustable shelves, with typical shelf pins:

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I think the wood is MDF + veneer. It might be plywood. It's not holding the pins very well.

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The end result was sudden catastrophic failure followed by two hours of mopping up glass shards while trying to convince the world-famous Siberian husky who lives with us to stay in the other room.

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Yes, that is a marble tabletop that actually got shattered into pieces by a bottle of Maker's Mark (recommended).

What would you use to reinforce these shelves instead of the dinky little pins?

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    Did the Maker's Mark survive the destruction of the marble tabletop (looks intact in the picture)? If so, I'm more impressed with Maker's than I was to begin with... – Comintern Dec 26 '15 at 15:40

The type of shelf pins shown in your photo are able to twist out of crappy MDF or particle board side walls when a lot of torque is placed on the pin due to excessive weight placed upon the shelf. There are alternate types of shelf bracket pins that are designed to keep the pin at 90 degrees to the side wall thus keeping it from torquing out of the hole. Here is a picture of one type that I have used in the past with good success.

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You should be able to easily use your existing cabinet and bracket holes with this alternate type of bracket. The old pins broke out the side wall at the top of the hole and these will rest on the bottom of the holes once installed. You may have to push some of the splintered wood flat but then you would install these brackets up tight to the side walls. The shelf will then sit on top of the part of the bracket with the hole. It is best if the side to side length of the shelf fits snugly between the bracket at each side. Once you have the brackets and shelves in place you screw the bracket to the bottom side of the shelf. It would be highly encouraged to drill a pilot hole for these screws ... but be careful to not let the hole or screw come through the top of the shelf.

It is the fastening of the bracket to the shelf that will provide most of the force to keep the pin straight into the cabinet side wall.

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    This is what I ended up doing... and I drilled four more holes per shelf, so each shelf is now supported by eight of these L-shaped pins – Joel Spolsky Jul 26 '16 at 18:53
  • Excellent. Glad it worked out. – Michael Karas Jul 26 '16 at 19:25


Well, If I didn't simply add up what this expletive redacted liquor cabinet just cost me (not counting husky-containment and mopping time) and shoot it into the sun to be wholly replaced with a decently made hunk of furniture, which I'd be fairly inclined to do after what you just went through.

I would glue and screw 1x2 wooden cleats (non-adjustable) to the sidewalls where you want the shelves to be. Depending how flimsy the shelves themselves are, I might also put a couple long 1x2 on the bottom of each shelf for reinforcement.

Alternatively, look for an adjustable steel wire rack shelf unit that fits in the cabinet - there being doors, you don't have to look at it except when getting bottles out.

On the positive side, at least the marble-topped table wasn't a fishtank ;-)

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    My sympathies. Alcohol abuse without fun is the worst possible thing ever. But good advice above. – Aloysius Defenestrate Dec 26 '15 at 20:57
  • Cleats is an ideal solution. I have found over the years that plenty of these pin/hole movable shelves never get moved after initial installation. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Jan 14 '19 at 17:04

I find it hard to believe that a few bottles would tear those pins out, unless either 1) the shelves are too short, resulting in a lot of torsional force, or 2) the pins weren't fully seated. Four pins, even in MDF, should support 100 lbs. easily. Custom and pre-built cabinets around the world use simple dowels for shelf support, even in particle board, and they aren't collapsing around us.

Either condition seems supported by your photos--the wood is torn out upward of the holes. I'd do two things to reduce the repair hassle: First, be sure that the pins are seated fully. The full-round portion should not extend beyond the face of the cabinet wall.

Then, I'd be sure that the shelves are nearly snug side-to-side, which will put most of the force straight down as shear, and not as cantilever. If they're short, replace them with prefinished shelves from your local home improvement store cut accurately to length.

This solution retains the adjustability of your shelving and should still be plenty strong for your purposes.

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The pins come in two pieces. One female metal cup goes in first to hold the shelf support and keep the weight distributed without breaking parts of the wood/ mdf.

These supports are usually together in one package.

You only have half a shelf support. That is the main problem. That and too much weight on the shelf.

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    While the better shelves include the 2-part pins/sockets, the vast majority of what I've worked with do NOT - they only include the little pins that go directly into holes drilled in the side panels. Which does always make me worry a bit - and I have seen quite a few shelves over the years moved up or down from the original level because the holes started to expand a bit much... – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Jan 14 '19 at 17:03
  • With two parts you have an exact fit. – Ivy Jan 14 '19 at 17:49

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