Step One: What You Need
To make a shelf, you're going to need a stud finder, pencil, metal shelving brackets and finally a piece of wood, plywood or fiberboard and metal shelving standards all sized to the appropriate length. If you are planning on painting or staining your shelves, choose a standard color that blends in well. You will also want to paint or stain your standards to match your shelving.
Step Two: Placing the Shelves
Using a stud finder, locate the wall studs to which you will attach your shelves. Mark the spots with a pencil. If you have to attach the shelves between studs, use appropriate anchors and do not exceed the manufacturer's recommended load limits. Determine the width and length of the shelves you need. The shelves should overhang the brackets by four inches. Have shelves to the chosen length. Have strips of 1 by 2 inch clear pine or hardwood cut. For shelves that will span more than 36 inches, use three strips or standards.
Step Three: Installing the Standards
Position the metal standards in the middle of the 1 by 2 inch strips and attach them using the screws provided with or recommended by the manufacturer. Attach the strips with standards to the wall studs with 3-inch wallboard screws. Make sure that the openings in the standards that hold the arm brackets match up on either side of the strips, otherwise the shelves will not hang level. Use a carpenter's level to make sure that the standards are plumb, ensuring the arm brackets will be level.
Step Four: Hanging the Shelves
Attach the arm brackets and place the shelves on top.