I was recently tasked with installing five vertically arranged bookshelves, each supported by four wall brackets. My past attempts at shelving have never been satisfactory. The brackets didn’t line up horizontally, and the legs were never perfectly vertical, making the arms stick out at various angles like a bad haircut. Although the jobs were alright in the end, they always left me unhappy with my craftsmanship. I reckon the causes were inaccurate marking out and the drill bit moving off the mark as the drill was triggered.
My plan to overcome these problems was to use a story stick. This was the straightest piece of pine, 68mm x 20mm that I could select at the timber merchant. It was the same length as the shelves, in this case, 2440mm, and I marked it on one face with the positions of each bracket in a row. The theory was that the stick would be lightly attached to the wall with a couple of masonry nails, its bottom edge aligned with the top of a shelf. The end of the stick would correspond with the ends of the shelves, and it would be perfectly horizontal.
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