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How to assemble heavy duty shelving

Putting up a shelf is DIY ground zero – a simple starting point for any would-be handyman. But it would be reasonable to assume that heavy duty shelving units provide a far greater challenge when it comes to assembly.

Not so if you opt for a boltless shelving system like our Rax units. You won’t need decades of DIY experience to assemble these – in fact; you won’t even need a tool kit. All you’ll need is a rubber mallet (which you can order alongside your shelving unit), a spare ten minutes, and the straight-forward steps below...

Feet First

The first step is to attach the plastic feet to the bottom of the four upright posts. Make sure they’re all pushed on firmly, and when assembled, the unit will stand stable and straight. Next, lay two of the upright posts on the floor and connect them by attaching a side beam for each level of shelving – ensuring that the bottom shelf is no more than 18 inches or so from the ground. Again, this will aid stability. To attach the side beams (and indeed every other piece), all you need to do is push the fixing lug through the widest part of the lock, then tap the beam with the mallet until it clicks snugly and tightly into the smaller part.

Join the Ladders

Repeat the above steps with the second set of uprights (making sure you set the beams at the same level as the first), and you’ll have what resembles a pair of identical ladders. These now need to be joined together in parallel, using the longer main beams. Starting at the bottom, join the first ‘rungs’ of each ladder by fixing a main beam to the front and back, level with the side beam. Then, assuming the unit is more than 1.5m wide, or designed specifically to bear heavy weight, you’ll need to add a centre support beam too. This fixes in the same way as all other pieces, and runs from the back of the shelf to the front. To complete your first shelf, all that remains is to slide the chipboard on top of the frame you have just created. It’s a good idea to do this now, before adding the main beams/support beams to the higher levels – the chipboard will be easier to position.

Final Checks

Before placing anything on the shelves, double check that all the fixing lugs are securely fitted into the smaller part of the lock, and that all the shelves are secure and flat. If a shelf rocks slightly, or looks skewed, its supporting beams are probably out of alignment – but thanks to the versatile nature of boltless shelving, it’s an issue that’s easily rectified. Indeed, that’s one of the great benefits of this heavy duty Rax system. If you decide you want to add more shelves to your existing unit, or move your current shelves around to create deeper levels, you can do so quickly and easily with nothing more than a mallet. Just remove the chipboard shelf, use the mallet to pop the fixing lugs loose, and move the beams around until you’re happy. When you’re finally ready to load the shelves, distribute the weight as evenly as possible – and don’t exceed the recommended weights listed here

If you’re at all unsure as to how much your shelves can hold, or if you need help during assembly, please call 0845 194 7370 (Mon–Fri 08.00 to 17.30) or email