Kelly the home improvement expert

Each year, hundreds of unsuspecting men find themselves in a precarious position: forced to put shelves on walls. If left up to men, our walls would be barren, save for whatever holes or stains result from games we make up with friends.

Guy: “Hey, let’s play ‘See What Sticks!’ I’ll grab the meatballs.”

My wife hates it when I play this game.

We certainly wouldn’t have 700 stars plastered on every wall like we’re trying to recreate the universe. If you connect a line between all of the stars on my walls you’ll get the constellation depicting a weeping man holding a purse.

According to a segment of our population I’ll refer to as “women,” failure to put up shelves tragically forces hundreds of faceless collectable angels to suffocate to death in department store boxes, never seeing the light of day.

My perfectly reasonable approach to this project is simple: if God had meant for things to be up high he never would’ve invented gravity.

During a recent visit by my parents, my wife made it known she would like shelves in our bedroom. Not just normal shelves. She wanted something called “floating shelves” so she can imagine we live at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Carpentry. She mentioned it within earshot of my father, whose CPU runs on projects. If he isn’t doing some kind of project the family fears his head will spin around and a spring will pop out of his back.

Of course he knew exactly what to do. Using advanced techniques such as counting, he got the shelves to hang level and true, something that is apparently important. His shelves sit proud, all straight and flat. In comparison, the ones I “installed” on a neighboring wall some months earlier look sad and in the process of giving up. One seems to have suffered a stroke. The other is in desperate need of Prozac. Or Viagra.

“Oh, I GUESS I’ll hang around,” one seems to say. “If I have to.”

“I’m so tired,” replies the other.

“Is life even worth LIVING anymore?”

“Whoa is us!”

If you’re unable to escape this task, allow me to assist.

• Step 1: Gather materials, tools and whatnot I guess, assuming you have them

So, apparently you need tools. You can’t hold the shelf up to the wall and expect the wall to absorb the shelf, which would be incredibly helpful and science should’ve handled this already.

When I set out to do this project I held the shelf firmly up to the wall and released it.

“I’m sorry,” I said to my wife after it clattered to the floor. “Our walls just aren’t constructed for shelves.”

She didn’t buy it.

After you find your hammer and set that down in your tool pile that now consists of a hammer, you will learn that you don’t actually need a hammer. Find a drill, screwdriver and six-pack of beer. One of those will work.

• Step 2: Buy a shelf

Ha ha! I’m just kidding. Your wife or girlfriend will already have one picked out. You can try and pick one out yourself, but it will be wrong.

• Step 3: I always skip Step 3.

• Step 4: Find a stud, which is apparently a thing

For this you need a stud-finder. You might have one. Just look for the thing that looks like a taser. Warning! Do not use an actual taser. After locating a stud-finder and running it over yourself, proclaiming to your wife that you “found a big one!” you will discover that your walls have no studs. Or you don’t know how to use it.

• Step 5: Measure stuff

Attempt to measure equal distance from each wall so the shelf appears centered, being cognizant of how far each bracket hole is away from the edge of the shelf, but making sure always to mark everything level so the shelf won’t …. ahhhh … screw it. Just eyeball it. It’s faster. And it’s not like this thing was going to turn out right anyway.

• Step 6: Drill, baby, drill

Using the packaged screws, drill the brackets into your marked areas, provided you marked them, which you didn’t. Be sure to accidentally use permanent marker and mark where, when you hang the shelf, the marks are still clearly visible so people see how hard you worked.

Using a random-sized drill bit, drill into the wall. Congratulations! You missed every stud, due largely to the fact that what you thought was a stud-finder was actually a calculator. Now you need wall anchors. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Where am I going to find a marina at this time of night?” Don’t worry, I looked into it and apparently these are different things.

• Step 7: Hang the shelf

If you’ve followed these instructions exactly, the shelf is probably hanging forward, leaning to one direction, or on the ground. Congratulations! You’re done! The rest is up to your wife. After all, you’re just in charge of hanging.


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached