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Installing a Corbel
There are numerous ways to install a corbel or bracket. Choosing the correct method is largely dictated by the location of the installation and the sort of load it is going to be carrying. Further considerations would include accessibility to the mounting surface and whether or not you can disguise the evidence of mounting on the parts of the corbel that are visible. Installation methods may also be guided by experience; complicated installation procedures are probably the purview of a cabinetmaker or experienced homeowner. But even a novice can feel comfortable when using a hanging system that incorporates pre-drilled keyhole slots.
Installation methods for corbels can be divided into two categories: hanging or hard mounting. Simply hanging a corbel is a good selection if the overall weight is light to negligible. Hard mounting with screws or bolts is both more professional and sturdier. In fine cabinet work, hard mounting is a requirement for a properly finished installation. And, if the corbels are actually making a contribution to providing support, a hard mount is essential.
We will discuss hanging a corbel first. Any corbel or bracket you order from Osborne Wood Products will have at least a keyhole slot routed directly into the wood on the back side of the piece. In many instances this will be surmounted with a metal piece for reinforcement. Corbels will have one, two or three keyhole notches as is appropriate to the size of the piece. (Note: Please contact an Osborne customer service representative directly for information on the number of slots on a specific piece). To use the keyhole slot for hanging, you determine the location and height where you will place the corbel and make a mark on the surface where the top of the corbel meets the wall. Then measure down the back of the corbel from the top of the corbel to the highest points of the narrow ends of the keyhole slots. Mark these measures on the surface where you will mount by measuring down from your top-point mark to the two points you just measured. There are several criteria you will want to consider when selecting the screws that you will mount in the surface or wall for eventual support for the bracket. First, the round portion of the keyhole slot is 3/16” so you will want to select a screw with a head that the slot will accommodate. Next, the length of the screw will be dictated to a large degree by the weight you propose to support. Finally, you may want to consider wall anchors if you are going to have to hang the corbels in sheetrock without benefit of having a stud into which you can secure the screws.
The sturdiest wall hanging method available would be to use the Industrial Hangers sold by Osborne Wood Products (part #955). You may request to have these hangers installed here at the factory (installation fee in addition to part fee). This installation method is recommended when either the corbels themselves are heavy or when the corbels will be supporting considerable weight such as a heavy shelf.
As mentioned earlier, most professional installations are going to involve some sort of hard mounting. Hard mounting includes any mount where the corbels are directly attached to the supporting surface with eithers or screws and wood glue. In the instance of cabinetwork, this hard mounting procedure is going to occur with the bolts or screws coming from behind and through the supporting material and into the backs or tops of the corbels. These attachments will ultimately become unseen as the cabinet work is completed. Removal of the corbels from work that has been completed in this manner would be impossible without deconstructing the cabinet work.
You may encounter situations where you need the functional advantages of hanging the corbel but require the stability and professional result of a hard mount. In this instance you may utilize a hybrid installation method that borrows a little from each method. You will hang the corbel on screws that have been placed into and through the supporting surface. The screws will receive nuts on the back side of the supporting surface. Once the corbel has hung on the screws, the screws are secured by tightening the nuts.
There are occasions when corbels must be mounted from the exposed front of the corbel. Although this situation most often arises during a retrofitting project, it occasionally occurs during an installation where no other alternative for mounting exists. In situations like this, the exposed surfaces through which the mountings have occurred are plugged or puttied. The end result is often less than perfect but there are occasions where no alternative mounting method is available.
It is said that necessity is the mother of invention. We have several examples where clients have sent us stories regarding some very creative corbel installations they have devised. One method that turned out to be very successful was a top-mount method developed by one of our longtime customers. This man was retrofitting corbels underneath an existing stone ledge. The normal way to approach this would be to place the corbels in place beneath the ledge and attach them to the supporting surface from the front, which would have left marks. In this case, however, our customer noticed that the stone ledge was resting on a wood underlayment. The underlayment was thick enough to receive substantial screws so the customer ordered corbels and – via our custom design service – had keyhole notches routed into the tops of the corbels. He then effective installed the corbels by suspending them from the underside of the ledge with wood screws installed in the underlayment thereby avoiding the scarring that would have occurred if he had front-mounted the corbels to the supporting wall.