Q: I inherited a very dramatic shelf and sconces from my mother and would love to display them in my home. The shelf is made of Lucite and is 72 inches long, 12 inches deep and one inch thick. Each of the two sconces weighs 35 to 40 pounds and consists of two parts: a 16-inch-high corbel made of heavy resin showing a bearded man with one upraised arm to support the shelf and, under that, a 14-inch-high wooden bracket. In my mother’s home, the corbels were hung on the wall, and the bottom curved edge of the bracket rested on the floor. Each corbel-bracket pair was attached most likely with a very long screw, but the connections seem flimsy and need tightening.
The hardware that should connect the corbels to the shelf (probably a one-inch-long decorative gold bolt) and attach them to the wall is long gone. Also, the metal brace on the back of the corbels probably should be replaced with new material. Where can I take the sconces to be repaired and to purchase replacement hardware? And what if the two holes in the shelf that need to line up with the sconces don’t match the locations of the wall studs?
(Photo courtesy of Reader Judie Weiss of Fairfax, Va.) - The shelf and sconces.
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A: The key connection is the system for holding the corbels to the wall. The shelf bolts onto them but wouldn’t typically be attached directly to the wall. A flimsy connection between each corbel and wooden bracket probably isn’t all that important because the brackets rest on the floor and are mostly just there for appearances. They aren’t carrying the weight of the shelf; the corbels do that, with the help of hardware on the back.
One of the pictures you sent shows the hardware: a flush-mount hanger, a device that comes with mating pieces for the wall and the back of the corbel. Luckily, the picture you sent was clear enough to show the patent number. The same part is still sold today. Rockler (www.rockler.com) lists the 11
4-inch Extra Thin Flush Mount for $3.99 a pair. Woodcraft (www.woodcraft.com) calls the hardware “Fasteners, Slimline,” and prices it at $3.69 per pair. Local hardware stores might also carry it.
Because you live in Fairfax and there’s a Woodcraft store in Springfield, the easiest solution might be to go to the store with one of the sconces and the shelf. Before you head out, use a stud sensor or tap on the wall and note places where the hollow sound changes to a thud. If the studs line up with the screw holes on the shelf, purchase sturdy wood screws for fastening the hangers to the wall, as well as two sets of hangers. If the studs aren’t where the corbels need to be, buy toggle bolts or other hardware rated for the weight of the shelf. You don’t need screws to hold the hangers to the corbels; just reuse what’s there, assuming the old hardware mates well with the new.
Woodcraft sells a wide array of bolts, so with luck you will find ones that will work for attaching the shelf to the corbels. If what you need isn’t available in bright brass, get a small bottle of gold paint from a hobby shop or art-supply store.
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Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in September, such as checking out local salvage shops, at washingtonpost.com/home.