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DIY way to level a shelf

If you’re hanging a shelf and don’t have a level handy, there’s a really simple DIY trick to get it right.

Measuring cup of water on shelf with water in it
  • Brace the shelf against the wall a couple of inches below where you want it.
  • Take a measuring cup, fill it to the halfway point with water and set it on the middle of the shelf.
  • When the water is level with the line on the cup, use a pencil to draw lightly on the wall to either side of the cup, at the water level. (This is why you placed the shelf a couple of inches lower than you want it – the water line should be where you actually want the shelf to go.
  • Move the glass along the shelf, keeping the water level, and make some more dots or small lines with your pencil until you’ve mapped out the whole area where the shelf will hang. Now you can use a ruler to draw a line all the way across.
  • To locate where to hammer in the brackets, set the shelf on the floor and attach the brackets in the same position they will be when attached. If you can, bring the whole mess up to the line on the wall and use your pencil to sketch where any nails or screws should go into the wall for the brackets. If you can’t, measure how far the brackets are from the end of the shelf and use a ruler to map positions on the wall.
  • Once the shelf is up, the pencil lines will probably be hidden. If not, you can erase them easily.