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What Are Adjustable Shelves?

A person cutting particle board to make an adjustable shelf.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 October 2014
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Adjustable shelves allow the space under or over them to be varied in height. In this way, buyers can create more of a custom storage system. An adjustable shelf may be made of wood, metal or particle board. The colors and weight allowances vary depending on the storage unit type. Adjustable shelves can be found in many kitchen cupboards as well as freestanding bookcases and wall shelving systems.

Typically, a bookcase with one or more shelves that can be adjusted also has ones that are stationary. A bookcase adjustable shelf is often located near the center of the unit rather than right at the top or bottom, but this varies. In most of these types of bookcases, there are small holes drilled on either side of the unit to allow the shelf to be raised or lowered at least one level. Small pegs or rods often fit into the holes as well as under each shelf. Bookcase adjustable shelves aren't usually that sturdy or stable, so these tend to be best for storing lighter items.

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Many kitchen cupboards feature vertical rows of drilled holes down each side to allow all of the shelves to be adjusted. Larger metal or plastic clips placed near each shelf corner often make the shelves strong enough to hold a heavy stack of plates or a cupboard full of glasses. Having each shelf adjustable in a kitchen cupboard turns it into much more efficient storage, as it cuts down on wasted space. Adjustable shelves can often be placed just over dishes or foods rather than having large amounts of wasted space on top of them.

Adjustable wall shelving is different from those in kitchen cupboards and freestanding bookcases. Wall-mounted adjustable shelving systems tend to attach to metal tracks that run vertically. The tracks are spaced far enough apart to allow each adjustable shelf to fasten onto it securely. Metal brackets or braces typically connect adjustable shelves onto the tracks, but sometimes a pipe-shaped attachment may be used as part of the design.

An adjustable shelf system with tracks may take up an entire wall. Many of these systems are made more attractive by giving owners the option of alternating each shelf to create a broken rather than straight-lined pattern. These types of adjustable shelves can create a decorative look on a wall while also providing a great deal of storage space for books, plants and accent or art pieces.

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anon321348
Post 10

When were brass sleeves for shelf supporting metal pins in bookcases first used?

andee
Post 9

My sister works at a funeral home, and in the room where they hold their services, they have adjustable shelves.

They use these small shelves to hold the flowers that have been given to the family. This way they always have the right amount of shelves for how many arrangements they have.

If there is a small funeral, you can group the flowers together and remove the other shelves so it doesn't look like there is a wall of empty shelves.

If it is a large service, and they have more flowers than shelves, they just set the big arrangements on the floor.

The flexibility of the adjustable shelves is practical and also pleasing to the eye.

SarahSon
Post 8

When I was in college, my bookshelf was two cement blocks holding up a piece of painted plywood.

I was pretty excited when I had the money to buy some bookshelves with adjustable shelves. Even though this was cheap particle board, it was a big step up from what I was using before.

Now I had enough room for all of my books and could rearrange the shelves as I needed to make room for the taller books.

I realized pretty quickly how those cheap bookshelves don't hold a lot of weight very well, as the shelves began looking curved.

My next step up was to buy a solid oak bookshelf, but I still made sure it had adjustable shelves. Now I have the best of both - quality, solid bookshelves, and shelves I can move around as I need to.

myharley
Post 7

I found out the hard way how important it is to have sturdy adjustable shelves in your kitchen cupboards.

I had everything organized and adjusted just the way I thought I wanted it. Either the shelf wasn't sturdy enough, or something happened where the little holes are, because my shelf ended up crashing down.

I had plates on the shelf that fell, and this crashed down on to some glasses. I heard a very loud sounding crash, and discovered many of my plates and glasses were broken.

honeybees
Post 6

When we moved in to the house we currently live, the refrigerator has adjustable shelves. This is the first time I had a refrigerator where I could move the shelves around, and I find it very helpful.

Now I have enough room for all the taller items without needing to lay them on their side. At first I didn't think I would change the shelves around much, but I have done this more than I thought I would.

It seems like it depends on the time of year. If it is summer and I need space for tall cold drinks, I need more room between the shelves than I do if I just need to store fruits, vegetables and small jars.

Most of the time the shelves stay put, but it is nice to have the option to change them if I need to.

burcinc
Post 5

I was so happy when I found out that my new closet has adjustable shelves. I didn't pay attention to this feature when I bought it. But as soon as I started putting clothes and accessories in it, I realized that the shelf sizes were too short. I couldn't fit my big bags and sweaters.

Then, I noticed that there are adjustable shelving brackets on the sides of the shelves. So I took one shelf out and put it on a much lower clip. This created a huge shelf space for me above.

This is such a great idea! And it's so easy. All they had to do was put in extra clips and people can decide for themselves how they want to use it. I'm so glad it turned out this way.

lighth0se33
Post 4

@wavy58 – An adjustable baker's rack would be perfect for you. You can find ones made of wrought iron, and that would stand up to the heat.

I have a baker's rack in my kitchen, and I love it. I can move the shelves up or down, depending on how big the loaf of bread or pot of soup is that I'm trying to cool.

There are gaps all in the shelving, and this is what allows air to circulate, cooling off the pan quickly. If you simply place the pan on a counter top, it will take much longer to cool.

The good thing about the adjustable baker's rack is that you can put decorative items on it when you're not using it, and you can adjust the height of the shelves as needed. It doesn't have to be just for cooling baked goods, though it does an excellent job of this.

wavy58
Post 3

I would like to get some adjustable shelving for my kitchen. I can't put it in the cupboards, because that would require a major redesign. However, I do have room for a freestanding shelf or even something small on the wall.

What I would really like is something that could stand up to heat so that I could set hot pans of food on it to cool. I know that I shouldn't use plastic or wooden shelves for this, because the plastic could melt and the pan might scorch the wood. Does anyone know of some type of adjustable shelf I could use for this purpose?

Oceana
Post 2

I have some adjustable wooden shelves in my room. The track is metal, but I painted it the same shade of brown as the shelves, so it doesn't stand out. I think it looks good now.

I use the bottom shelf for books and magazines, so I need the most room between it and the next level. On the shelf above that, I put various trinkets. The next shelf sits rather close to this shelf, since the trinkets are small, and I put seashells from various vacations on it.

I think the trick for anyone who wants their adjustable shelving to look good is to make the brackets or track match the shelves. Either paint them to match or buy them in a set.

kylee07drg
Post 1

My dad has adjustable metal shelving in his shop. He does a lot of repair work on everything from electronics to cars out there, and he needs a lot of space for all his tools.

Some of his tools are tall or long, while others barely take up a few inches of space. It is helpful to have the option of raising one shelf to store the tall things and lowering another to just above the biggest small tool so that he can have extra space for the ones that need it.

It isn't the most attractive shelving system, but it doesn't need to be. It is purely functional, and it provides him with the storage capabilities that he needs.

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