An Olde Way Shelf Support

Last year my wife, Anita, bought an old cupboard with open shelving. What struck me most about the cabinet was its shelf supports. So simple, they seemed like a no-brainer. Simply take a piece of wood, drill holes down the middle, then saw the piece in half. Stick each piece in the corner of the cabinet then make a stick to act as a cleat for the shelf support.

I’ve done the whole drill 1/4″ holes through a scrap piece of peg board trick for years. In theory, it should work out fine as long as you measure where the holes go perfectly, but with my luck, one of the four pins would be off just enough to make the shelf rock.

I’m also not a fan of those metal shelf brackets you screw to the cabinet by running dadoes down the side. They look too ’80’s for me and give the appearance of commercially made cabinetry.

When my wife wanted me to make a custom buffet cabinet for our dining room, it got me thinking about using the old style shelf support I saw in her old cupboard.

The build went well. I used 3/4″ birch plywood and trimmed the casing with poplar as I knew the piece would be painted anyway.

When it was time to focus on the inside, it was my turn to use the old style shelf support. I took two pieces of poplar 2″ wide and drilled 1″ holes down the center 2″ apart. Then I took each piece to the band saw and split them apart. Since all four pieces are the same height, attaching each one while they touch the bottom of the case assures that all of the semicircles are all at the same height.

I cut a notch at each corner of the shelf to fit around the shelf supports. Then I glued a piece of wood to the front so the shelf wouldn’t sag with weight. Super simple and gives the cabinet an old world feel.

The buffet cabinet was now finished and Anita eventually painted it white. As luck would have it, Anita found another cabinet she liked better at an antique show so this buffet was sold in our booth (which you can see in the back below). Doh!!!… oh well, it was still fun to build.

2 thoughts on “An Olde Way Shelf Support

  1. Mr.

    I’ve seen the same thing with a saw-tooth design so that the cleats are just mitered and longer at the bottom than at the top.

    1. We have a huge display cabinet in one of our booths where they used the saw tooth method. It was retrofitted to accept glass shelves. I had to cut a couple saw tooths away in order for the glass to slip in. Saw tooths work as well but seem more work than just drilling a hole to me. My luck, I’d still cut one of the tooths in the wrong spot. haha

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