If you have a sagging wood bookshelf, you don't have to replace the whole bookcase. However, it should be fixed right away for safety reasons and to stop the loss of valuables. Hardwood shelves hold up longer than the imitation wood bookcases, but even they can sag with age. It is simple to fix a sagging wood bookshelf by following these tips.

Prepare to Work

For this project, you need:

  • work gloves
  • tape measure
  • pencil
  • eraser
  • straight edge
  • stud finder
  • wood stain or paint (optional)
  • shelf brackets
  • two-inch wood screws
  • half-inch wood screws
  • plywood board (optional)
  • hollow wall anchors (optional)
  • drill or rotary tool with pilot bit
  • hacksaw or table saw (optional)

Remove all items from the shelf, unscrew the bracket hardware, and reverse the shelf, if possible. Avoid placing too many items on the shelf. Flipping the shelf  and lessening the weight should reverse the bowing.  

Install Brackets

Measure the width to determine the number of brackets to purchase. A bracket is commonly needed per sixteen inches. Hold a straight edge against the wall over two brackets, and mark the center. Use a stud finder along the length of the shelf to mark and locate wall studs. 

Mark the position of each bracket on the shelf. If you only need one bracket, divide the shelf width by two, and mark the center. To install additional brackets, divide the width by the number of brackets. For example, to install five brackets, divide the width by five.

Place the top of the bracket flush on the stud position, and mark for screw holes. Drill the pilot hole using the rotary tool or drill and pilot bit. 

If you don't find any wall studs, drill the holes for wall anchors on the screw position, and follow manufacturer's directions for installation. Most anchors use metal screws. Fasten them in place, so the screw heads are flush with the wall.

Erase the pencil marks. Position the end brackets back over the holes, and fasten them with a half-inch wood screws. Set the shelf over the brackets, then install the center bracket in the same manner.

Reinforce with Plywood Board

Find a plywood board slightly longer than the original shelf. Mark the length of the original shelf on the wood, and cut it to fit.

Dab some wood glue on the edges of the shelf, and pres sit in place under the shelf. Fasten the board to the shelf with a C-clamp. Stain the wood with a color to match the original shelf.

Your bookcase should look as good as new. If the shelf continues to sag, the bookcase may need replacing. Try Modern Home 2 Go or any local furniture store.