Hanging shelves on plaster walls using available studs is easy. Simply drill pilot holes into the studs which are each located 16 inches apart, attach the brackets to your wall, and attach the shelf to the brackets. Hanging shelves on a plaster wall without available studs takes more work.
Gather your tools
To hang a shelf on a plaster wall, you use a pencil, a level, mounting brackets, a drill with a wood bit, and toggle bolts.
Mark the holes
Position one bracket on the wall and mark the holes with a pencil. Place your other bracket on the wall and mark the holes. Use a level to make the hole marks even.
Drill pilot holes
Drill pilot holes where you made marks. Use a drill bit slightly larger than the diameter of the toggle bolts you are using.
Insert toggle bolts
Thread the wing onto the part of the bolt that is on the back side of the bracket. Repeat this step for any remaining holes in the bracket. Fold the wings against the bolt and push the bolts into the pilot holes. The wings open when they clear the wall.
Tighten the bolts
Tighten each bolt once the wings have opened to set the toggles tightly into the wall. Remove the screw from each toggle bolt.
Mount the shelf to the brackets according to instructions. Attach the completed shelf to the wall by placing the screws through the bracket holes and twisting them back into the toggle bolts.