Excellent Hanging Shelf Hardware

My architects like hanging shelves and I do too. They often take the “cowboy” approach of using galvanized threaded rod and nuts and washers to support the shelving. I wanted something a little more refined, but didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for fussy little European hardware bits. Here’s a solution I came up with, which has proven to be excellent in all respects.

Here’s a detail of the hardware:

You need some tubing, some clamp collars, tube connecting nuts, and hanger bolts. I’ll show photos and then provide suppliers at the end.


OK, here’s where you get the stuff:

Tubing: I used 304 Stainless Steel, which runs about $9/ft for the polished seamless version or $3/ft for the plain-finish welded-seam version (which looks “satin” and is perfectly nice). You can, of course, use plain steel, which would be really cheap. I used 3/4″ diameter with 0.049″ wall thickness, which is quite standard. You can order it from McMaster-Carr.

Hanger bolts: I used 1/4-20 x 3″ and bought them at Home Depot. (McFeely’s and Rockler also have them.)

Tube Connecting Nuts: I bought these from McMaster as well. They are designed to fit the inside diameter of the tube, which is 0.652″

Double-split Clamp Collar: I bought these from McMaster in stainless. These are pricey…about $10 each. The plain steel ones are about $4 each.

A set up with two 36″ rods and 4 clamps in stainless steel would cost about $70 for the hardware ($100 if you use the polished tubing). In plain steel, it would probably cost about $30.

I used the hanging rods for just the front support. In most cases, my shelves were 1-1/2″ thick (2 sheets of 3/4″ plywood). My finish carpenter routed a 3/4″ dado in the back and side edges of the shelves. He nailed or screwed a 3/4″ wide cleat onto the wall and then installed the shelves over that cleat, holding them in place with a few finish nails.

11 thoughts on “Excellent Hanging Shelf Hardware

  1. Jf


    Nice !

    I had the same idea for my living room audio/video module, but found the stainless collars a bit pricey… especialy that I needed 20 of them! Instead I’m going with wood pucks that I will drill through and then use an insert and a bolt. I will have to drill through my tubes as well, but they are aluminum (proud Quebecois!) and thicker (120 mil) so it should’nt be a problem.

    Can send you pictures if you wish.



    1. KTU Post author

      You might consider using an aluminum shaft collar. McMaster has them for about $3 each, and you can get them cheaper elsewhere I’m sure. Those aluminum tubes will oxidize to a darker gray over time. You can clean them up before installation with a green Scotchbrite pad — when “brushed” with the pad, the surface looks nice and uniform, and the natural finish lasts a bit longer.


    1. KTU Post author

      I think the limiting factor would be the pull-out strength of the star-nuts that you press into the ends of the tubes. My guess is that they pull out of a 3/4″ stainless tube at 200 – 500 lbs. That would be per tube. You probably get higher values for plain steel tubes and lower for aluminum tubes. Still, you’re likely good for a couple of hundred pounds of load per tube, which would be quite a lot, especially given you are likely supporting the back edge with a wall.


  2. Candice

    I’m curious if this will work free hanging (without a wall behind). So for instance, could I use this method to have a free-hanging shelf with 4 tubes? How strong would this be? I plan on screwing the hanger bolt into beams in the ceiling.


    1. KTU Post author

      Should work fine. However, there is no cross-bracing in this design, so the shelves may wobble a bit when nudged. Probably not a great design for a shelf to store champagne flutes.

      I believe each star-nut inserted in a 3/4 tube will support a couple of hundred pounds, so unless you are planning on storing your rock collection, the strength should be fine.


  3. Douglas S. Raymond

    We are planning on following your plan, but there is one thing that is not addressed – a covering for the end of the tube. Our shelf would only come down a few feet from the ceiling. As a result, the end of the tubing would show. How would we finish off the end of the tubing so there is not just an open tube showing?



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