Carpentry & Joinery Question

Shelves in alcoves - floating or brackets and why?

I want to put shelves into quite shallow alcoves beside a fireplace - they're 83cm wide and I want to put books on them. Will floating shelves be strong enough or should I use brackets, and if so, which kind? I haven't done it before so any advice would be really useful. Thanks.

8 Answers

Best Answer

Floating shelves will be fine IF DONE PROPERLY.

for solid wood, i machine a groove around 3 side of the shelf, fix a batten of a corresponding size to the 3 side of the alcove and slot the shelf on.
For mdf, you could make it in 3 layers and create the groove by having the middle layer small in size than the top and bottom.

Answered 6th Feb 2012

Mark Coleman ~ Carpenter

Member since 28 Dec 2008

Its all down to your capability ? floating looks better,brackets are probably easier. What you could do is build a solid unit out of 18mm MDF. So that you can screw the shelf's in through the sides and back. Then fasten this to the wall, that way you don't see any fixings for your shelf's. Painted out the same colour as your wall décor & it looks great. Hope this helps

Answered 6th Feb 2012

MKH Building Solutions

Member since 1 Feb 2012

i recently did a shelf job which was in an alcove beside a fireplace, the way i did it though would have to be done by a carpenter and joiner as i used 1,1/4 inch thickness pine shelves which were 12" depth. i joined the timber together using a biscuit jointer and routered a 1/2" groove along each edge of the shelf which was preperation to take a 1/2" square piece of batten which i fixed either side of the alcove so effectively i just slid the shelves straight onto the battens creating the floating look which is much more better looking than having brackets on show. alternatively you can buy floating shelves from places like ikea which have a metal supporting bracket with two prongs which you fix to wall where the back of the shelf would be but the only disadvantage there is that you may not get the required width of your alcove. hope this is of help to you.

Answered 6th Feb 2012


Member since 6 Jan 2012

hi use the small brackets you get inside a wardrobe to hold up shelves you will get them in bq they are about 10mm x 10mm x 10mm make sure shelf is min 18mm thick so it doesnt dip in the middle good luck neil

Answered 6th Feb 2012

taylor made garage conversions

Member since 28 Feb 2009

No feedback


Floating shelves are fine,I made some recently to hold over a 1000 dvd's.It would Best to use 25mm mdf so does not split and floating shelf brackets.

Answered 7th Feb 2012

STM & Daughters

Member since 27 Jun 2008

I would only use 45 thick pine with 15mm groove each end which slides onto 15x15mm timber fixed to wall . This will take alot of weight particularly books , also no deflection.

Answered 28th Apr 2012

Bates Carpentry and Building

Member since 23 Jun 2011

Floating shelves probabaly wont to take the weight of books very well, so brackets would do but why not use small battens either side with a batten at the back if required?

Answered 6th Feb 2012


Member since 20 Jul 2008

I have seen your question and I would advise brackets if you want to use the shelves for books. Books are really heavy and you need more support also make sure you have good fixings into the wall. ie: rawl plugs and screws. Floating shelves are ok for decorative items not bulky books. The otherway is using timber bearers but you will see them, it is timber fixed to back underside of shelf and sides to support.
Hope this is useful.
D G Joinery

Answered 6th Feb 2012

D G Joinery

Member since 17 Jan 2012

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