Constructing Cantilevered Shelf Supports

Advice (with an example) on doweling shelves to walls with no support showing. March 5, 2008

I am trying to install a 36" by 14" by 1' Formica clad shelf using nothing but dowel rods. The problem is I am using only one wall, so there are no side supports. Can it be done?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor M:
Get a piece of flat bar and have 1/4" or 3/8" rods welded to this. You can then screw this assembly to the wall. Now bore two 3/8" holes in the back of the shelf. Rebate the back of the shelf so it will fit tight to the wall. Slide the shelf onto the rods. It will be supported but you can't see any of the mounting brackets.

From contributor J:
Rebate is a Britishism for rabbet.

That might work, but the shelf needs to be mechanically attached to the bracket which is screwed into the wall. Where did this design come from? The designer might have an idea of how it is supposed to be fixed in place.

From contributor G:
Hafele furniture/cabinetry catalog, pgs 377-378. Excellent customer service, exceptional products. This is one option. Easy to do this type of shelving...just have to think it out.

From contributor P:
We just used some lag bolts and cut the heads off after they were in. We then laid out the holes and drilled them with a doweling jig. It worked fine.

From contributor A:
How much protrusion (depth) were you able to get into the shelves? What diameter lag screw?

From contributor P:
I don't remember, I didn't do the install. I was thinking 5/8" and 9".

From the original questioner:
How deep are your shelves? Mine are 14" and I am worried about the cantilever. I am afraid the forward edge of the shelf is going to be too much weight.

From contributor P:
I think those shelves were 14" deep. It definitely worked fine. This was a high end job. There were 20 or so shelves put in like this, some of them 10' long. Why don't you try it with a mockup?