A mantel shelf can be an attractive and useful addition to your home. Mantel shelves are simple and effective storage solutions, and have the added bonus of being highly customizable. You can purchase a commercially built mantel shelf, or even design and build your own. As another bonus, mantel shelves are very simple to mount.
Step 1 - Preparation
Hold your mantel shelf roughly where you think you wish to mount it. Use your pencil to make marks at the corners and where the screws should be, so that you will have an easier time properly placing the mantel later. Once you are satisfied with the positioning, place your mantel aside and use your electrical detector to be sure that there are no electrical lines in the area you'll be working in. You will be drilling into the dry wall, and drilling into a line could give you a nasty shock, so be thorough. You may also use this time to find and mark the studs (vertical, load-bearing slats in your walls), but if you are short on time you can skip it. If you need to finish or paint your shelf, do so now.
Step 2 - Attach Mounting Board
If you have purchased your mantel shelf, it likely came with a bracket or mounting board for you to mount it to. If your shelf is handmade, you may need to purchase a bracket or mounting board. You can find them at most home improvement stores. Brackets will need to be screwed in, but mounting boards can be attached to the wall with a construction grade adhesive. You should use drywall screws in conjunction with the adhesive for the strongest bond. If you are working on a stone surface, use masonry anchors instead of drywall screws. Try to attach the screws to the studs you found in step one. If you did not search for the studs or there are no studs, you can use equally spaced molly bolts.
Step 3 - Attaching the Shelf
Once your bracket or mounting board is in place, fit your mantel shelf over it. At this point you should take care that there are no changes you wish to make to positioning. If you are satisfied and are finished with your adjustments, drill holes across the top of the shelf, where it will overlap with the board. The holes should be spaced about 8 inches apart, and should be made with a drill bit that is a little bit narrower than the nails or screws you will use. Once you have done this, you can attach the shelf using both your construction grade adhesive and your nails. Be sure to let your adhesive completely dry before placing anything on the shelf. There should be a recommended drying time on the container your adhesive was purchased in, but if there isn't, letting it dry for a couple of days should do the trick.