How to Make a Shelf with Corbels
To start with, you must cut the shelf board to its final dimensions. This shelf’s final dimension is 60 inches long and 7 inches deep. The corbels will be placed 32” apart so they can be fastened securely to studs. This shelf uses some simple half round beaded molding to give a more detailed look to the shelf board. To apply the beaded trim you must miter it first. Once the molding is mitered you may want to hold it in place with some tape while you mark the end cut of each molding piece. You probably don’t want any brad nail holes to fill so try putting it together without fasteners. Carefully clamp the molding and let the glue dry.
This shelf connects the shelf board to the corbels with wood dowels, these can be picked up at an hardware store. This is a non-permanent installation of the shelf board so you can at any time replace the board or the corbels. The holes in the top of the corbel and in the bottom of the shelf board must match and the easiest way to do this is with a jig. Simply put your drilling jig on your corbel and drill the holes and then put the same jig on the board and drill that. You may want to chamfer the dowels so that they will be easier to fit into the matching holes. When installing the dowels into the corbel use glue to ensure that they stay in the corbel when detaching and reattaching the shelf board.
This shelf is finished to look like an antique; the first step in this finish is to apply an alcohol based dye. The dye makes the color of the stain apply more evenly. After the dye has dried apply your stain, any oil-based finish will do, but make sure that when you stain the corbels you get the stain into all the crevasses. Once the stain has sat for a half an hour start wiping it off with some steel wool. When you wipe the corbels off it should lighten the high points of the carving while keeping the low points nice and dark. After you have done this apply a coat of polyurethane by either spraying it on or brushing it on.