Flatpack furniture assembly

Prices and fees
Furniture assembly: £20 per hour (billed per half hour), first hour £30
Furniture dismantling: £20 per hour (billed per half hour).
Day rate: £149 (eight hours).
Furniture repositioning (from one property to another, up to 5 miles): £30*

Staircase repairs

stairs repairs
An easy way to reinforce the stairs

Most stairs will come lose at one point. An easy way to fix the stairs is to run a new wall-string support under the original wall string. The brickwall must be sound ( strong ) in order for the new support to be effective, otherwise – a new post must be installed. (this means – removal of the floor boards, attaching the new post to the wall and joist work, etc)
This method of stair repairs is not an elegant one, but it is very efficient and in most cases will not cost more than £500 including the materials. If you have a gap between the staircase and the wall, it is a bit more complicated.It’s best not to try to screw the wallstring back to the wall, unless the whole staircase can be pushed back into the original location.
You can read more about fixing staircases here :

If your staircase is not safe – do not carry furniture or anything heavy on the stairs. Also, avoid having more than one person on the stairs – at one time. Then get a carpenter or a builder to fix it.

Locks for windows


If you are in any doubt about a security problem, go to your local police station and seek the advice of the crime prevention officer. CPOs can be found in virtually every area of Britain and their experience and knowledge of security devices, including details of how to fit them, will prove invaluable. The service is free.

Over 60 percent of household break-ins occur through windows; intruders choose this route because an unsecured window can be quickly opened from outside. For example, it could take an experienced burglar less than 15 seconds to enter a house through a casement window by breaking or removing a pane. There is a wide range of window security devices (WSDs) available to secure windows properly, preventing easy access and causing as much obstruction as possible to an intruder. It is worth fitting these to all the windows in your house, even to those which are above the ground floor, since an agile intruder could scale a drainpipe or building projection or climb scaffolding or a ladder which has been carelessly left out. Fanlights should also be protected, as should small permanently shut windows, since once the glass has been removed these can provide access for a slim intruder. Fitting most WSDs is within the capability of the home handyman; usually, you will find any experience you have gained in installing mortise locks or bolts on doors will be valuable since fitting WSDs often requires similar tools and expertise. Remember too that although an intruder may gain access through a window, he may be unable to retreat through the same opening since the stolen goods may be too large; you should make sure all exterior doors are secured as well.

Preparing for installation
Start by making a plan of window locations and note the size and type of each window and its existing fittings. Check how frequently windows are usually opened since this is a feature you should consider when choosing the WSD you will fit. Examine windows for loose joints and panes and look for rotten sections in timber frames; complete any repair work before fitting security devices.

Window security devices fit to and secure existing fittings or are fitted between moving and fixed window sections. The costs of individual WSDs car vary considerably, but as a general rule those which are fitted to existing fittings semi-permanently are cheaper than key-operated types which are fitted permanently to fixed and moving frames and allow windows to be opened quickly. When selecting WSDs it is best to avoid choosing cheaper semipermanent types for windows which are regularly opened since they will need to be frequently removed from and replaced on the fitting and may be lost or not used as a result. Anti-child locks Care should be taken in selecting WSDs for households with young children; in this case the devices will be used to prevent windows being opened easily from inside as well as outside. Devices which lock directly onto handles and stays are suitable since these are difficult to remove.
Where screw heads securing WSDs are visible from outside, it is worth using clutch head screws since these cannot be unscrewed. Alternatively you can file the heads of slot head screws and drill out the heads of cross head screws so they cannot be undone with a screwdriver.

WSDs for timber casements
Timber casement windows are usually fitted with cockspur handles and window stays; securing them can involve replacement of these fittings with more secure types or installing devices which give extra security in addition to the existing fittings.

Replacement units
Replacement handles and stays are available in matching sets of various designs and may involve the use of conventional or special keys. With one make, the handle is secured with a conventional key and the lockable window stay can be secured in up to nine positions; so while ventilation is provided, opening the window from outside is extremely difficult. Both the handle and stay are fixed in position using the screws provided.

Window locks
There is a variety of window locks available. One type fits flush to the edge of the window and you move a catch to lock a bolt section fitted to the opening frame into a keep recessed into the fixed frame when the window is closed; when you want to open the window undo the lock with the key supplied. There is a version of the same lock for use with metal frame windows and the same key can be used for both versions. Another type of device locks automatically when the window is closed, in case you forget to lock up. You use a key to open the window.
If you have young children in the house, make sure the keys to locks are not in an easily accessible position since children can quickly learn how they are used.

Window security bolts
These are slightly smaller than the security bolts which are used to fit on doors; fitting them involves basically the same process. The bolt section and its casing are mortised into the edge of the opening frame in a central position and, when operated by a splined key, the bolt locks into a plate recessed into the fixed frame; the width of the frame should be 38mm minimum. Security bolts have the advantage of being virtually invisible from outside. On larger casement windows, if the window frame depth will accommodate them, you can use larger door security bolts to give extra bolt depth.
Window security bolts usually require a depth of at least 38mm, plus suitable glazing clearance; so measure your window frame carefully to make sure its depth is sufficient before buying this type of device.

Stay locks
These are inexpensive, easily fitted, threaded units which replace the existing stay pins. If they are in good condition, you can use the screws which secured the old stay pin to secure the new threaded pin; but remember the screws will be accessible when the window is secured in some open positions and treat as described above.) The thread passes through the existing hole in the window stay and is secured from above by a special nut, which is tightened with the key supplied. You can secure a window in a partially open position by fixing through the hole further down the stay; however, since this means removing the locking nut, stay locks are best used on windows which are infrequently opened. One type of stay lock is available for securing window stays without holes; it is fitted using two screws and is secured with a special locking key.

Other locking devices
A number of small locking devices, usually operated with special keys which lock the moving and fixed parts of timber frame windows together, are also available.

Locks for metal casements
As with timber casement windows, metal ones are usually secured with cockspur handles and window stays and, again, there is a variety of devices you can fit to provide a proper level of security.

Window locks
With one typical variety the lock is fixed to the opening part of the window frame and the bolt locks into the fixed frame to secure the window. Special fixing screws are supplied to ensure strong fixing to metal window frames. The keys of this type of lock are interchangeable with those for a version designed for timber windows.

Securing handles
There are several other WSDs for securing existing fittings. For example, cockspur handles on metal frame windows can be secured by a device which fits on the fixed frame beneath the handle. When the window is closed, a bolt is locked in an upright position to prevent the cockspur portion of the handle passing; if you want to open the window, you can release the bolt with a special key. This device is fitted with the self-tapping screws provided; you should drill holes for these according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When fitting, make sure the swing of the cockspur misses the bolt body. To secure the handle in the ‘shut’ position on a window which is infrequently opened, you can fit a device which locks directly onto the cockspur using the special key provided – no tools or screws are necessary.

Securing window stays
These fittings can be secured to a metal frame in several ways. They include a device which you can fit to the existing stay without screws or fixing tools; it locks the stay to its retainer to prevent stay movement and the window being opened.

Wedge lock
This is fitted in the edge of the casement; when locked with an oval-shaped key, it secures the casement to the frame. It is fitted by drilling one hole (using the template provided) through the casement and securing the lock with an escutcheon screw.

For securing other types of window, you can sometimes use the devices available for casement windows; but there are devices which are manufactured specifically for use in these situations.

Transom windows
Otherwise known as vents and usually situated above larger casement windows, these are normally fitted with window stays; you can us€ stay locks to secure them if there is a suitable timber sub-frame. There is a D-shaped clamping device available which is specially designed to prevent stay movement in metal frame transom windows; it is easily fitted with screws.

Timber sash windows
These can often be opened from the outside since the centre latch can be undone by a knife or similar tool. If the windows are opened infrequently, you can secure them with strong screws. Otherwise, you can flt a device operated with a special key; a protruding bolt prevents the two sliding panes passing. There are several types available. With one type the bolt is fitted to the upper sash about 100mm above the striking plate which is fitted to the top of the lower sash. When the key is turned until the bolt is fully extended, the window may be opened a small distance to provide ventilation, but any attempt to force it will be thwarted when the bolt hits the striking plate. Other types have the bolt fixed to the top of the lower sash; the bolt locates in one or more locking plates on the upper sash to coincide with the fully closed and slightly open positions. Again, the bolts are released with a key.

Metal sliding windows
These are generally fitted with special locks which provide good security. For extra protection, you can fit a device which snaps onto the sliding window runner and prevents window movement; another device locks onto the frame. For many types of metal sliding window, you can fit a patio door lock to provide additional security.

Centre pivot windows
These are best secured by the window locks available for casement windows. A window lock with versions for both metal and timber frame windows will adequately secure pivot windows with frames of either material.

Fanlight windows
For these, the window locks available for casement windows are usually appropriate. Many fanlights have narrow frames and this is a point to consider when buying locks.

Securing fixed pane windows
Most homes have at least one small fixed window; to provide adequate security, this should be glazed with 6mm thick wired glass. Check the interior beading is strong and securely fitted so it will withstand any attempts at forcing it. Where you have a window with a large fixed pane, make sure the frame is in good condition and the pane is properly secured. Where a large fixed window is in a particularly vulnerable position, such as a basement area, it is worth considering the installation of a security grille or iron bars.

Security grilles
In some situations, these are the only effective means of providing protection against intrusion. They are supplied in designs to match the existing decor and character of the house. Installation of a grille is best left to the specialist.

Iron bars
These should be round iron of not less than 19mm diameter or square iron of not less than l9mm section. They should be fixed vertically to the inside of the window at l25mm intervals ; grout them into the brickwork at the top and bottom of the window to a depth of at least 50mm and recessed at least 50mm from the wall surface. The bars should pass through flat horizontal iron tie bars, the distance between which should not exceed 450mm, and kept in position by welding or flattening the bars above and below the tie bars. The ends of the tie bars should be cut, splayed and grouted into the brickwork.

Fitting locks

Until the recent advent of magnetic and electronic locking devices. lock mechanisms had involved only two principal methods: a fixed obstruction (or ‘ward’) which prevents any but the correct key operating the lock and a more effective method involving detainers or levers, which are brought together in pre-selected positions by a key. The latter is the principle of the modern range of mortise deadlocks; when properly fitted they are designed to be stronger than a timber door. This means, in the event of a break-in, the wood itself would fail before the lock. The locking bolt is enclosed inside a steel box to prevent the lock being picked; some have up to three anti-picking devices as well. The bolt itself is often enclosed and reinforced with steel rollers which rotate to prevent a thief cutting through the bolt. Once the bolt is locked, it is secured automatically. When more than one lock is fitted you can obtain a key which will open all the locks but you must ask for this when you order the locks. Some manufacturers offer a registration service which ensures replacement keys are only given to the registered lock owners. You should complete the registration document and return it to the manufacturer. Fitting a mortise lock should offer no problems to the experienced DIY person as long as the manufacturer’s instructions are carefully followed. If in any doubt you should contact a professional London carpenter since a poorly fitted lock will be inefficient and may reduce overall security. There is a wide range of mortise locks available and many reasonably priced devices provide good security. The British Standard is worth looking for when choosing locks because those with this stamp are resistant to drilling and manipulation from outside have a minimum of 1000 key variations and comply with a number of other exacting requirements.

Fitting a mortise lock
Different manufacturers will suggest different methods of fitting; but as a rule the lock is placed along the central rail (slightly lower than halfway down the door) on a panelled door or along the outer stile on a hardboard door.

Position the lock on the inside of the door and draw round it; drill a series of small holes in the area marked and chisel out the mortise. Fit the lock into the mortise so it is flush with the edge of the door; drill out key holes on both sides as recommended by the manufacturer and chisel to key-hole shape. Check you have drilled the key holes correctly and the lock is aligned before fitting the lock and escutcheons. The striking plate is secured to the door frame after you have marked out its correct position in relation to the bolt of the lock. Drill and chisel out a mortise for the striking plate and roughly fit the plate to the frame; any adjustments should be made to the plate and not to the lock position.

Fitting a rim lock
This mortise deadlock is not mortised into the edge of the door, but secured through the door. The deadlocking action varies depending upon construction; most deadlock automatically when the door is closed and some require the key to be turned before they deadlock. The lock is supplied in three parts – a key cylinder, deadlocking portion and striking plate or staple. Again, manufacturers will supply detailed fitting instructions relevant to their particular model: in general terms you will have to drill through the door and some manufacturers will supply a template for this. Insert the key cylinder from the outside of the door and cut the connecting bar to length according to fitting instructions. Fit the deadlock to the inside o[ the door and screw the striking plate into the door frame alter alignment. You can buy a pull which fits beneath the key cylinder flange.

Additional security devices
A mortise lock fitted to an interior or exterior door will often be all that is needed to upgrade your home security; however there are certain weak areas which may need additional devices to deter the intruder. For example, the porch door is your first line of defence and should be fitted with a good two bolt five lever mortise lock.

Two bolt mortise lock
This is similar to the standard mortise lock but has an extra latch bolt with the deadlocking function. The lock is suitable for exterior doors. The two bolt version is fitted in the same manner as the standard mortise lock.

Hook bolt mortise lock
This is widely used to secure timber sliding doors. either flush or single ones, provided there is sufficient space to accommodate the box striking plate h the rim of the door. Installation is similar to the standard mortise lock and the deadlocking function can be triggered either by closing the door or turning the key.

Security mortise bolt
This type can be used to secure exterior or interior doors and French windows. They are usually fitted in pairs (to top and bottom of the door) and a standard key opens all the bo1ts. All that is required for installation is a hole of recommended size drilled into the edge of the door and frame. two shallow rebates cut to accommodate the locking plate and the flange and enable the bolt to be fitted flush into the edge of the door and a hole in the face of the door to take the key. A circular bolt is thrown back by the key, which operates from only one side of the door.

Surface fitting bolts
These are the traditional bolts which are usually fitted at the top and bottom of a door. Ensure you use the correct size bolt – for exterior doors the minimum bolt length should be 200mm and the correct size screw: undersized bolts and screws could be forced.

Hinge bolts
These are particularly important for outward opening doors where the hinges are exposed. The bolts fit inside the frame, close to the hinges. The keep is rebated into the door frame and the bolt is fitted into the door by drilling a hole for it. Hinge bolts will provide solid protection for a door and frame even if the hinge pin is removed.

Door chains
These should be fitted to front and rear exterior doors as a precaution against casual visitors; they allow you to examine visitors’ credentials and prevent violent intrusion into the home. Always keep them fixed when the house is occupied. They are easily fitted with screws. Some types incorporate an unlockable plunger which enables the chain to be secured when leaving the house and also prevents a successful intruder locking you out of the house.

Door viewer
This is essential when outward vision is hampered by solid door construction or frosted glass; fit a porch light as well for night use. The door viewer comes in two parts, one part screwing into the other through the door. Drill a hole of the required size through the door to fit a door viewer; place a block of wood behind the door when drilling to prevent the drill bit bursting through and damaging the finish of the door.

Anti-jemmy plates
These are used where there is a perceptible gap between the edge of the door and the door frame. They are mounted to reduce this gap and to prevent the use of jemmies and other devices of the housebreaker, which might open a non-deadlocking rim lock for example.

Locks for doors

The average home contains at least ten doors most of which have various functions and require different locking devices. You should fit both interior and exterior doors with good quality locks which offer proper security and do not hinder everyday life for members of the household. When considering home security it is a good idea to start by making a floor plan of your home: take exact measurements of door thickness and door stile widths and note the condition of lock already fitted. This plan will help you to examine the cost of overall security requirements and to order the devices and fittings you will need.

carpenter fitting door lock

Types of door
Outside doors should be at least 45mm thick and made of stout hardwood or security uPVC . There is little point in fitting expensive security devices to doors which are weak and likely to be broken down easily.

Front door
This is usually the most vulnerable door since it is the one you use to leave the house and therefore cannot be bolted from the inside. Approximately 28 percent of all break-ins occur from the front of private houses. Many front doors are fitted with o1d fashioned rim locks (a cylinder mounted inside and through the door): you can secure the door by adding a one bolt, five or six lever mortise deadlock (a box mounted inside the door) or replace it with a rim lock and a lockable handle which has the deadlocking function. If the stile is under 75mm wide, you will have to fit the former or a special narrow rim deadlock. The door must have a minimum thickness of 38mm for both types. If you decide to replace the rim lock, buy one of similar dimensions so only slight modification will be needed to fit it. The standard mortise lock has two keyholes and is fitted into a mortise in the edge of the door; it is suitable for double doors if one door is locked with flush bolts. Double doors with a rebate require a rebated forend and a rebated locking plate which must be stipulated when the lock is ordered; you should quote the hand of the lock. whether the door open inwards or outwards and the depth of the rebate. To determine the hand of a lock, view the door from the outside: the edge on which the lock will fit is the hand. If the lock is for the edge of the door on your right a right-hand lock is required. Two security or mortise bolts fitted top and bottom of a front door will give additional security. A security chain will guard against unexpected intrusion if you remember to secure it before opening the door to strangers. Fit a door viewer to allow visitors to be identified before the door is opened.

Back door and side door
Approximately 62 percent of break-ins take place at the back of house. Low security locks should be replaced with a standard or two bolt mortise deadlock of at least five levers and two bolts can be added as additional security. If the door is glazed, it is better to use mortise bolts. If trades people and callers are expected you should fit a chain and door viewer.

French doors
An intruder can easily open these type of doors.Fit a mortise lock and mortise bolts, one shooting upwards into the top of the frame on one door and the other to the second door (which overlaps the first), shooting down into the floor.

Metal doors
These are normally made of galvanized steel or aluminium and are supplied with good locks. Aluminium replacement doors for domestic use are usually supplied with narrow stile widths which require rim fitting mortise deadlocks or other types of special lock. A locksmith will advise on suitable locks for metal doors and may also be able to fit them for you. A surface-fitting key operated bolt can be added to metal doors.

Sliding patio doors
Most sliding patio doors are supplied with a lock fitted to the centre stile, which prevents the door being slid open. However many do not have this facility and rely solely on the locks at the edge of the door, which can be easily overcome if force is used. In this case it is best to fit an additional lock to the top or bottom rail. You can do this yourself but great care must be taken; if you are in any doubt, it is best to have the lock fitted by a professional carpenter.

Timber sliding doors
There are several types of lock suitable, but these doors are best secured with hook bolt mortise locks which have a deadlocking action. You can use a lock with a claw bolt action which grips a recess in the striking plate. but these are not usually available with deadlocking function.

Interior doors
Doors inside the house offer a valuable second line of defence against the would be intruder, provided the layout is not open plan. In isolated areas or in situations where the house may be left empty for long periods, an intruder could cause considerable damage by smashing down locked interior doors. But since some insurance companies may insist interiors doors are left locked in this kind of situation, it is probably the best course to take. In any case. check your insurance policy before making a decision. The floor plan shows how locking interior doors can prevent easy access to the hallway and rooms on the ground and first floors. In most cases. the original locks fitted by the house builder will offer poor security. Here you can fit mortise bolts at the top and bottom of the door (to operate sideways on single doors)installing them with the keyholes facing the hallway.

Replacing glass in metal frames & windows

Metal frames
To fit a new pane of glass into a metal frame adopt basically the same method as for a wood one except you must use metal casement putty, since linseed oil putty is not suitable for metal. The glass is held in place by special glazing clips rather than sprigs – one arm of the clip slots into a hole in the rebate, while the other arm of the clip clamps onto the face of the glass. Hack away the old putty and note the positions of the glazing clips so you will know where to refit them. Remove the clips from the frame (if you do this carefully, you will be able to use them again). Brush the rebates clean, apply a coat of metal primer and leave to dry for a few hours. Spread a layer of putty in the rebates and fit the new pane of glass into the frame on the putty. Replace the clips in their original positions and finish off as for a wood frame.

When handling broken glass, wear protective spectacles and a pair of old, preferably leather, gloves. Keep children and pets well away until you have finished the job and every piece of glass has been cleared up. Wrap the glass in newspaper and put it straight into the dustbin to avoid accidents.

Replacing glass in windows

glazing replacing
If you break a window and cannot get replacement glass immediately, as a temporary measure fix a sheet of polythene to the inside of the window. With a wood frame either fix the polythene with adhesive tape or, for a stronger fixing, secure the top of the polythene to the window with drawing pins, nail a batten along the top and then secure each side and bottom edge with battens. Stretch the polythene to smooth out wrinkles as you work. Use heavy duty polythene secured with strong adhesive tape for a metal frame.

Wood frames
Clear up the glass left on the ground and remove the fragments in the frame. These should pull away easily; you may have to remove the holding material. Take out the glass from the top of the frame, then work down the sides and along the bottom edge. To remove stubborn pieces run a glass-cutter round the perimeter of the glass and close to the rebates. Tap out the pieces with the handle of a light hammer, holding each piece until it is free. If the holding material is putty chop away with a hacking knife or old chisel. This will reveal a series of small headless nails (sprigs) which do the real job of holding the glass. Carefully remove the sprigs with pincers. If they are still straight, you can re-use them; if not, buy new ones 16mm long. Sometimes the glass will have been secured by wood beading fixed with panel pins. Prise away the beading and remove the pins. Take care when removing since the beading will have mitred ends to form neat corner joints and if you damage these you will have to buy more beading and shape the mitres yourself.
Brush out all the dust from the rebates and rub the timber smooth with medium coarse glasspaper. Apply a coat of wood primer and leave to dry.

Measuring up
Accurate measuring for the new sheet of glass is vital. Measure the full width of the opening between the side rebates at the top, centre and bottom of the frame. These should be the same, but if there is a slight difference work on the smallest measurement. Next measure between the other two rebates, top to bottom, again if necessary noting the smallest measurements. Deduct 3mm from these dimensions (this is to allow for the glass expanding and contracting in the frame). These are the dimensions to use when ordering your glass. If your window frame is badly out of square or an awkward shape, such as curved, make a template (pattern) of the frame from card or stiff paper so the glass can be cut to the exact size. For normal domestic use you will need 3mm sheet glass. Take some old newspapers to wrap round the glass or wear gloves to protect your hands from the edges when carrying it.

Fitting the glass
Hold the new glass up to the frame to check it is the right size. Knead some linseed oil putty into a ball in your hands to make it soft and pliable and if necessary add a little linseed oil to make the putty more workable. (Putty has an irritating habit of clinging to dry surfaces when you do not want it to, so keep both hands and the putty knife wet.) Run a continuous layer of putty about 3mm thick round the rebates and press well in with your thumb. Carefully lift the glass into position, allowing for the 3mm expansion gap, and press it into the layer of putty pushing only on the edge of the glass, never in the middle. Refit the sprigs, spacing them at intervals of about 150mm around the glass. They must be flat against the glass to hold it securely, so tap them in carefully. The flat edge of a wide chisel could be used for this. Run another layer of putty around the front of the glass, pressing it in with your thumb. With a putty knife smooth out the layer, shaping it to match the angle on your other windows, and form mitres at the corners . Use the edge of the knife to trim off surplus putty from the glass.

Free standing shelving

This type of unit provides a storage system which does not need to be fixed to the wall and can be used, if you wish, as a room divider. There is a variety of makes available and you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for assembly. One type, which is made of plastic-coated steel, is strong and durable and would be useful in a kitchen or workshop. It has angled uprights from 914 to 2440mm high and shelves of 864 x 229 610mm. The shelves are adjustable to 50mm intervals, but changing their position is not as easy as with other systems because the shelves are bolted in place. To assemble the unit, lay two of the angled uprights flat on the ground and loosely bolt the shelves vertically in the required positions. Place the remaining two uprights along the front of the shelves and bolt them loosely in place. Then stand the unit upright, check it is square and tighten all the nuts and bolts.

Custom made storage
Custom made storage

Stud supports
An inexpensive method of providing support for shelves in a free-standing adjustable unit is to use studs screwed into bushes. To take the shelf bush, drill a 10mm diameter hole in the upright to a depth of 10mm. Press a bush into the hole and insert the shelf stud; the stud clips into the bush for fast holding. Fit two parallel rows of bushes on the uprights at each side and place studs into the required bushes.

Adjustable shelving systems

You have probably found however much storage space you have you always fill it. One way to keep up with growing plants, varying book heights, additional equipment and children”s changing interests is to install adjustable shelving: this is easy to put up and can just as easily be taken down if you move house. The shelves may be fitted onto brackets which slot into strips or uprights screwed to the wall, so you can move them about and fit additional or wider shelves; alternatively there are free-standing units with adjustable shelves. Before buying a shelving system decide where you want to put it” what items you need to store and how much flexibility you want; for example. some systems have a variety of special-purpose brackets so you can use a shelf as a desk or work top. Check the length of the brackets available, since some manufacturers do not make brackets for very wide shelves. Some systems have matching shelves you can buy or you can use shelves of your choice.

Wall shelving
Adjustable shelving systems are available in a variety of materials and finishes so you should be able to find one which will fit in with its surroundings. Hardened aluminium is commonly used for uprights and brackets and often for shelves as well: systems manufactured from this material are available in a silver satin finish or a matt anodized finish in gold,silver or black. Units are also made in painted steel. One system, which can be used for commercial or domestic purposes has matching steel shelves but can also be used with wood or glass shelves. For a living room you may want a wood unit and you can buy teak uprights and brackets with matching teak finished shelves.

There are two main types of metal upright: those with slots into which the brackets are fitted and those with a continuous channel into which the shelves are slid and clicked or locked into place at the required position. Brackets of the slotted type can be moved at 25mm intervals: the sliding type is easier to adjust, but more care is needed in lining up the brackets to ensure the shelves are straight. It is easier to fix the sliding type uprights to the wall since there are no slots to be lined up: with the slotted type you need to line up the slots exactly or the shelves will not be level. Wood uprights have threaded holes into which the brackets are screwed. Some shelving systems have uprights which will hold hardboard panels, hessian or cork-covered boards or mirrors. For walls which are uneven,there are uprights which hold 3mm hardboard panels at a slight distance from the wall. Uprights are available in two or more lengths.

Wiring and lighting
One system has built-in facilities for an adjustable spotlight, which can be fitted at any height on the upright. Cables for lights of hi- fi equipment can be run inside the uprights and hidden with a cover strip. A switch is available which can be fitted on an upright connection to a lamp or other appliance.

Wood brackets have rubber grip pads to hold the shelving, while the other type are screw-fixed or have a hooked edge which fits into a groove in the shell or a lipped end which holds the edge of the shelf. Some systems have special brackets to hold glass shelves.

Fixing wall shelving
When fixing the uprights make sure they are vertical and parallel to each other and with slotted supports ensure the slots are correctly lined up; check with a straight-edge and a spirit level. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for spacing between sup ports, which will be dictated by the load the shelves will carry, and check whether you need to buy .: screws; some manufacturers supply screws while others just specify the size of screw required. Draw a pencil line where the top fixing hole of each upright is to be placed, using a straight-edge and a spirit level to make sure it is horizontal. Make a cross on the line where the top screw of each support is to be placed, making sure the supports are the required distance apart. At each marked point drill a hole of the correct diameter for the wall fixings you are using and insert the fixings.

Fix each support at the top with a screw, leaving the screw slightly slack at this stage. Use a plumb line to check the first upright is vertical and mark the positions of the remaining screws. Swivel the support aside while you drill and plug the fixing holes; fix the bottom screw, followed by the intermediate ones, and finally tighten the top screw. Fix the remaining uprights in the same way, checking they are parallel to each other by using a batten cut to the exact distance between the supports. Place the brackets in position according to the manufacturer’s instructions, checking they are level by using a straight-edge and a spirit level. Place the shelves in position and screw them in place or cut grooves as required.

Fixing shelves

mdf shelves
The methods of fixing the different types of support vary slightly, but the general principles are the same. Remember to check, when deciding where to place the shelves, that you will not be drilling into electric cables or water pipes. Cables to socket outlets normally run up from the floor, while those for light switches normally run down from the ceiling; but to be safe, don’t drill holes in the wall either vertically above or below these fittings. Plan the position of the shelves, taking into account the height of objects to be stored and allowing a little extra space above. Also check you will be able to reach the top shelf easily. Lightly mark with a pencil the position of each shelf on the wall. When fixing the shelves in position, use these marks only as a preliminary guide; always check with a spirit level to ensure they are truly horizontal.

Using battens
This traditional system is probably the simplest of all. A timber batten is screwed to each side wall of a recess and the shelf is laid across. For extra support across a long span, fix a batten to the back wall too. To make the battens you can use softwood or off cuts of the shelf material, such as chipboard. For a lightweight shelf intended to display a few ornaments, you could use 25 x 12mm battens. For large books or heavy kitchen utensils, use 50 x 25mm battens. For medium loads, use timber between these two sizes. Screws Use 50mm No 6 screws for a lightweight job, 63mm No 8 screws for medium weight shelves and 75mm No 10 for a sturdy assembly.

Fixing method
Cut out both side wall support battens a little shorter than the width of the shelf. Drill a countersunk clearance hole 25-50mm from each end of the batten, depending on the length of the batten and mitre or bevel the front edges of the battens so they will be less noticeable. If using a back batten, cut it to the width of the recess minus the thickness of one of the side battens; cut the thickness of the back batten off the straight end of the other side batten. Drill holes at not more than 300mm intervals. Position the first side wall batten at the required height. Rest a spirit level on top to check the batten is horizontal and mark with a bradawl or nail the positions of the holes onto the wall. Remove the batten and drill the holes in the wall to the required depth. Insert wallplugs or cavity wall fixings, depending on the type of wall involved. Place the batten in position again and partly drive in the fixing screws. Check the horizontal again with the spirit level before finally driving the screws home. If you are using a back batten, line it up so its top edge is level with the top of the side wall batten already fixed. Place the spirit level on top to check the batten is horizontal. Get someone to hold it in place while you mark the screw positions on the wall as before. Drill the holes, insert plugs (or other wall fixings) and drive in the screws, checking again the batten is horizontal. If a back batten is not being fixed, use a straightedge and pencil a line across the back wall level with the top edge of the side batten; use a spirit level to check the straight-edge is horizontal.

Line up the second side wall batten with the pencil mark, checking the horizontal with the spirit level. Fix the second side wall batten in the same way as the first, making sure its top edge is aligned with the back batten or pencil line. Position a squarely cut scrap piece of shelving on the battens in both corners of the recess to check the side walls are square. If there is a gap between the end of the shelving and the side walls, you will have to cut the shelf to fit. The back of the shelf may also need shaping and this must be done first. Pin a length of card or stiff paper onto the back wall batten so it fits exactly into each corner. Using a small block of wood and a pencil trace the outline of the back wall onto the template. Cut along this line carefully, tape the template onto your piece of shelving and transfer the outline. Then use two smaller pieces of card and mark on them the outline of each side wall in turn, following the same procedure.

Measure from each corner diagonally across to the proposed front edge of the shelf on the opposite side wall, making a small allowance for the trimmed back edge of the shelf before determining the width of the shelf. Position each side wall template carefully in turn on your piece of shelving. Starting with the left hand side wall, place the back left-hand corner of the template to coincide with the left-hand end of the already marked shelf. The angle of the template will be determined when the front left-hand corner of the template coincides with the length of the diagonal from the opposite corner. Tape the template onto the shelf in this position and transfer the side wall outline onto the shelf. Working from the opposite end, repeat this procedure for the right-hand side wall.
This will give you the correct outline for yow shelf, which can then be cut to shape. Place the shelf on the battens; it can be loose laid, screwed or glued and pinned in position.

Using angled metal strips
These serve the same purpose as battens, supporting the shelves against the side walls of an alcove. Screw holes are often provided, so you just need to mark the position of the screws on the wall with a pencil. Place a spirit level on the horizontal part of the strip to check the strip is level. Screw in place as for battens, using a screw size to match the pre-drilled holes and ensuring at least 38mm of the screw will be in the wall. If you wish, you can make a recess in the edge of the shelf so the top of the metal strip will be invisible when the shelf is in position. Place a bracket on the shelf side edge and draw round it with a pencil to mark the cutting lines. Chisel out to the required depth with a paring chisel, grooving plane or electric router. Stop the recess just before the front edge of the shelf, so the bracket will be concealed. Recess the other end of the shelf in the same way, fit the angled strips to the side walls of the alcove and slide the shelf on to them.

Using L-shaped metal angle brackets
These can be bought in various sizes; the arm of the bracket should extend almost to the front edge of the shelf to give full support. Some brackets have one arm longer than the other, in which case you must fix the longer arms to the wall. To fix the brackets, place a straight-edge in the required position, check with a spirit level and draw a line along the lower edge where you want the shelf to be. Measure and mark off the intervals at which you want to place the brackets, putting the end ones a short distance in from the ends of the shelf. Fix the two end brackets in place first. Hold the first bracket in place on the wall, checking the horizontal and vertical with a spirit level. and mark the screw positions with a pencil. Screw in place as for battens, using screws to match the pre-drilled holes. Before fixing the second bracket, hold it in position and check it is level with the first by placing a straight-edge on top of the two brackets and putting a spirit level on it. Do the same with intermediate brackets. When all the brackets are in place, lay the shelf in position and mark the screw positions through the holes in the brackets onto the underside of the shelf. Drill pilot holes to take the screws, replace the shelf on the brackets and screw it in place.

Using timber angle brackets
Strong home-made brackets are ideal for a garage or workshop where strength is more important than appearance. The brackets are made by fixing two pieces of wood at right-angles and inserting a brace between them to form a triangle. Use 25 x 12mm softwood for medium loads and 50 x 25mm for heavier loads. Cut one length a little shorter than the width of the shelf and another length about 50mm longer than the first; this will be fixed vertically to the wall. Fit the lengths together at right-angles using a halving joint and glue; screw through the joint. Position another length of wood across the right angled piece so it forms a triangle, placing it about 50mm from the end of the horizontal. Mark countersunk clearance holes where the third piece of wood meets the inside edges of the other two sides of the triangle; mark the two sides and join up these marks across the top and bottom to give you your cutting lines. Cut the brace timber to the exact length, checking the brace fits exactly when you place it inside the right-angle. Drill three countersunk clearance holes in the vertical batten and two in the horizontal batten; the size of the holes should correspond to the recommended screw sizes. Screw the bracket to the wall and fit the shelf in place, drilling pilot holes for the shelf fixing screws. Finally glue and screw the angled piece in position with countersunk screws.