Shelf Supports

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Paul shows how to make sawtooth shelf adjusters. These allow the placement of shelves at various heights using fitted brackets. They also act as a door stop or planted rebate. The layout is key to aligning the shelves, and once done Paul cuts and chops the sawteeth. Once reinforced, he screws them in place and shows how to cut and fit the brackets, including the brackets for the sloped shelf.


  1. Joseph Palas on 23 March 2016 at 8:18 pm

    I’d never seen that sort of bracketing system before. I assume that the angled bracket at the end is for a shelf to hold planes?

    Thanks Paul! Loved the video.

  2. knightlylad on 23 March 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Thank you for the lesson.

  3. robertparsons81 on 24 March 2016 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks Paul and the team,Great Video first time ever seen that before
    great lesson.

  4. keithc on 30 March 2016 at 8:57 am

    This is a really interesting technique. I do have a question:
    When marking the crosscuts – about min. 3:20 onwards – would it not have been more practical to clamp together both pieces for the left and right sidewalls beforehand and then mark and saw them before separating to chisel away the waste? This would mean that both sides are guaranteed to be identical.

  5. YrHenSaer on 30 March 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Many years ago, before good old tools got outrageously expensive, I came across a curious little plane in a junk shop in Salisbury. The guy in the shop didn’t know, but he thought that it was some kind of book-binders tool………….
    It was made in the 19th C by Moon of St Martins Lane and resembles a cross between a trench (dado) plane and a dovetail-plane with some fences on the side. St Martins Lane is a very, very different place now since the Moons had a factory there. It runs from near St Matins in Trafalgar Square toward Longacre. It’s the edge of the West End theatre-land; all hotels and swanky restaurants. No plane makers anymore.

    It took a little while to restore it to use, but it was what was called a ‘Library’ plane, designed to cut angled grooves for shelves across the grain. I found out that Victorian shop-fitters used them to cut the miles of supports for the shelving that was common in shops in those days.

    It has a personality all of its own, it’s a bit of a so-and-so to set up, but once you’ve mastered the method, it is surprisingly quick and accurate.

    A great little plane – an alternate method of cutting these classic supports especially if you have many dozens to cut.

  6. manny on 31 August 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Hi Paul,

    A couple of questions.

    I noticed you were chiseling out the sawtooths against the grain of the piece. The screenshot one sees before starting the video is a good view of the grain orientation to the chisel direction if you go full screen. Of course, most all angled chisel cuts are against the grain as one works down into the piece, but your cuts were about 90 degrees into the grain. If you had rotated the piece end for end you would have been chiseling almost parallel with the grain. Were you intentionally chiseling cross grain to keep the cut from splitting the piece along the grain?

    Second question, it never says in the video that I noticed (perhaps this is shown in later episodes, or maybe it’s implied and I’m not as sharp as your chisel), but is there another set of these sawtooth brackets on the opposite side of the carcass? I’m wondering because you did not gang the two (left and right sides) together as Keith mentions in his comment above.

  7. António on 19 September 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Thank You WWMC Team!

  8. Allan Davis on 20 September 2016 at 3:00 am

    Ref A Joyner: Can you supply a picture of the plane?

  9. dpawson on 20 September 2016 at 10:04 am

    So many lessons there Paul. Lots of experience went into that, I was grinning with each ‘Ah ha’ moment.
    Worth watching 6 times just to see how you do what could be quite tricky.

    Thank you.

  10. rwe2156 on 20 September 2016 at 12:31 pm

    Paul your videos are excellent resources and just a suggestion perhaps you could edit out the repetitive cuts, etc ? Thanks for all you do for ww’ers!

    • Tupper Wallace on 21 September 2016 at 11:33 pm

      I don’t agree – the repetition helps us see his practiced technique, gives us time to think about all the subtle ways he is saving time and effort, and lets him add hints and observations.

      • Mer Almagro on 23 September 2016 at 8:28 pm

        Agree Tupper Wallace, it’s one of the things that makes these classes so good and sets them apart.

      • Alfredo Chàvez Macìas on 24 September 2016 at 2:22 am

        I agree to, the repetition helps us `, is an adeed pleasure.

      • Christopher Hodgkin on 27 September 2016 at 12:02 am

        I like him showing the whole process — gives me a good idea how long the process takes him (I’m impressed with how quickly he can rip a board of that length), and gives me plenty of time to observe his vice positioning and exact body position and movements to get the complete cut accurately.

    • Bas Cost Budde on 25 September 2016 at 2:05 am

      I see no repetition. Or, I do: the repeated pattern of observation, judgement, corrective action. I absolutely want to see all of that. And Paul, you keep communicating your choices, that is what tremendously inspires me. I feel so immersed.

      I say this because I *want* to learn the process. I am not that much interested in the final product as I am in the journey towards that final product. It seems every piece of wood is different, so every sawstroke is an individual. In a way this showing of the process is much more intimate than showing the end result is.

      • David Seymour on 3 October 2016 at 8:02 am

        Yes, there are so many good reasons for showing the whole process in real time – and this is clearly a deliberate and inspired choice Paul has made when making these wonderful videos. Not least is that, while he is ‘in the moment’ – methodically working away at a repetitive task (although obviously each one of a series of seemingly identical operations will always be slightly different with a material like wood) – thoughts and ideas of how to communicate them occur to him; so if you ‘wind on’ you’ll likely miss out on some little nugget of information which allows us all to benefit from Paul’s long experience. For me it’s these observations he shares that are the fascination, as much as the techniques themselves.

    • Michael Ostrander on 5 November 2017 at 3:47 am

      I agree that it gets a little repetitive sometimes but I do think it helps to see the work in real time. It helps to set a reasonable expectation for the time it should take to complete a step. When I don’t see value in watching every chisel cut or saw-stroke, I just fast forward through it. Nor a big deal.

  11. Clark Freese on 25 September 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Paul Thank you I’ve always been attracted to, or by saw tooth shelf supports. Your demeanor and easy to follow instruction have encouraged to try and do some myself. Thank you.

  12. Daren Wingfield on 3 June 2017 at 7:08 am

    fantastic old school way of shelf supports no holes and pins.

  13. stanley beggs on 14 January 2019 at 3:21 am

    Does it matter what type of wood to use?

    • Izzy Berger on 14 January 2019 at 3:17 pm

      Hi Stanley,

      Paul says it doesn’t matter what type of wood you use.

      Kind Regards,

  14. Paul Shouse on 25 April 2020 at 2:48 am

    I see you cut and chiseled the support, then ripped it in half to make two matching supports. Since you will need a matching set for the other side, wouldn’t it be better to chisel a wider piece and the rip it into four?

  15. sherbin18 on 3 May 2020 at 8:09 pm

    Hi all-

    I know this is very late to the game, but could you supply the width and thickness of the finished supports. I’m confused as to what they are from Paul’s description in the video. They are the only pieces not specified in the cut list, at least that I can see.

    Thanks in advance.

    — Steven.

  16. Paul G on 9 June 2021 at 3:25 pm

    I believe both the supports and the brackets are 3/8″.

  17. Paul G on 9 June 2021 at 3:26 pm

    Can I ask why Paul did not drill a pilot hole into the main cabinet when installing the supports? Is it because the screw will be going in only a small amount?

  18. John Winter on 10 July 2021 at 7:41 am

    @PAULSZ That’s right; pilot holes aren’t essential here as the screws are thin and are only going in 3/8″ or so. Especially since Paul’s working on sapele.


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