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On the penultimate stop of our Renovation Road Trip we met up with Sara and Shaun, the fun and funny couple behind Russet Street Reno. They have such a great house, especially the kitchen, where they had one upgrade in mind, which they feared could result in disaster. So they enlisted our help to install a pair of oak shelves beside their refrigerator.
The challenge was to install the oak brackets so that each would be spaced evenly from the adjacent wall. At the same time, the shelves would need sufficient strength to be useful as storage. The added challenge? Going through drywall to install the top shelf, then through tile to put up the bottom.
First we located the studs in the wall. The one on the left was about 8″ from the wall, so we marked a plumb line here and another line the same distance from the opposite wall. There was no stud in this location.
Then we prepared the brackets to accept the fasteners. We used a Forstner bit to create a flat-bottom recess that would accept our fasteners.
The top hole location was more difficult to access. To achieve a straighter hole, we needed to use a spade bit attached to an extension.
With the holes for the fasteners drilled, we positioned the left brackets along the center of the plumb line and marked the tile and wallboard behind using a 1/8″ bit. We marked the brackets top and bottom corners, too, so we could return them to the same exact location after pre-drilling the walls.
To drill through the tile we used glass and tile bits large enough to allow our #14 screws to pass through unobstructed. We also pre-drilled the studs to accept our screws. Then we lined our brackets back up and drove in the 4″ screws with an impact driver. Since our brackets were 1-1/2″ thick, and we needed to get through tile and wallboard, we opted for 4″-long screws. (2″ or 3″ screws would have been fine for metal brackets or thinner wood brackets.)
Next, we centered the right-hand brackets along the plumb line, locating the fastener hole positions as we had done on the left side. But here, instead of pre-drilling small holes, we used 9/16″ tile and spade bits to make holes in the tile and wallboard large enough for our 3/16” toggle bolts.
We installed the 4″ bolts into the bracket, then screwed the wings onto the bolts. It’s important to position the wings in such a way that they will open once inside the wall.
We installed each bracket by inserting the toggle bolts (wings folded down) into the holes. And then, with the wings open inside the wall, we pulled lightly on the brackets and tightened the toggles, alternating top to bottom until the brackets were fully seated.
We then used a 2′ level to check the alignment of the left and right brackets. The toggle bolts left us enough wiggle room to adjust the brackets and make them perfectly level.
We repeated the process for the second shelf above, though thankfully this time there was no tile to go through.
In the end our seemingly simple project came with the kind of challenges DIYers know well—layout constraints, having the proper tools, and choosing the proper products.
Read every dispatch from the Renovation Road Trip right here.
For more on home DIY kitchen storage, consider: