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shelfJoe Provey, Home & Garden Editorial Services

Cabinets shelves, especially those made of particleboard, are likely to buckle under heavy loads. Make these simple shelf supports to solve the problem.

Many of today's kitchen cabinets come with 5/8-inch or 3/4-inch thick melamine-laminated particle board shelves. Particle board is a type of engineered wood made of wood chips, shavings, and saw dust, so they're obviously not as strong as solid wood. The material holds up okay if the shelf width is two feet or less and if the load limit is not exceeded. In most wider cabinets, though, sagging shelves are a common problem -- even if they don't appear to be overloaded.

One solution is to replace particle board shelving with 5/8-in. plywood or 3/4-in. solid wood shelving, and finish the shelves to match the cabinets. Solid wood won't sag until the spans exceeds about 32 inches.

But there's a faster, cheaper way.

Measure the distance between the cabinet bottom and the underside of the shelf. To get an accurate measurement, measure the height where the shelf meets the side of the cabinet -- not where the shelf has sagged. Then cut two strips of 1⁄4 x 1-inch wood to that length. Stick double-sided tape to each strip and attach one against the cabinet back and the other behind the center stile (the vertical dividing member in the forefront of the cabinet) to prop the shelf up in the center from either side. Double-stick tape will keep the strips in place but make them easily removable.

If you prefer, you can opt to support the rear of the shelf with a shelf peg instead of the wood strip. Simply drill a hole for the peg at the same height as the peg hole at the end of the shelf.

For adding support to multiple shelves, add additional wood strips under the next highest shelf in the manner described. Don't skip a shelf, though; the load must be carried to the cabinet bottom.


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