Corbels are known as architectural members that support weight. Wood Corbels have long been used in
architecture as a structural piece jutting from a wall to carry a resting weight - a console piece applied to a
Corbels are a staple throughout architectural history, dating back to ancient Babylonian times. Large,
weight-bearing corbels were commonplace under balconies in Italy and France were great in size and richly
Wherever weight-bearing wood corbels are required, there are several options for the installer. In some
instances a block of wood may be used and tied into the substructure, then a thinner carved overlay is placed on
the wood for a faux wood corbel.
Another possibility is to use a steel support bracket installed to support the weight. In this application, the
wood corbel requires a routed cavity to cover the steel support bracket, which provides the desired decorative
In all cases, it is necessary to be
sure the portion of the corbel that is carrying the load is installed into a stud framework that runs into the
floor to disperse the weight and let the sleek or decorative aspect of the wood corbel be the facade to
disguise the support.
Federal Brace provides two mounting systems: our original corbel mount system, which is light duty and can be
retrofitted or installed after final millwork completion, and the corbel rib system, which gives a
weight-bearing capacity to a light-duty wood corbel. Whether you select one of our pre-routed corbels or select
a mounting system to use on your corbel purchased elsewhere, you'll enjoy the traditional wood corbel look with
the strength of metal.
Traditionally, a corbel’s design was projecting from
within the wall to provide support. However, times have changed and so has the corbel. Today, wood corbels are
fastened on as a simple decorative element with no weight-bearing capacity considerations.
We have several different rustic wood corbel designs available for you to choose from. Whether you’re looking
for corbels to accent your mantle, countertop, or other applications, we have a decorative wood corbel to meet
Today’s wood corbels can be simple in design or ornately
carved but are almost exclusively used as a decorative element (without significant weight-bearing ability).
The majority of wood corbels available on the market have a keyhole mount on the back, non-visible, side of
the corbel. The keyhole mounting format provides very limited weight-bearing capacity and is most often only
sufficient for carrying the weight of the corbel itself. This keyhole also makes for a difficult mounting
process and can result in the wood corbel not lining up properly under the desired element.
Federal Brace has wood corbel systems available in many designs that are routed and pre-fit with our corbel
mounting systems. This makes mounting your wood corbel easier and eliminates the risk of splitting the corbel or
matching stain to cover the mounting hole. These mounts also allow you to install your decorative wood corbel at
the end of the project, which can protect them from potential damage during construction.
Similar to the rib cage, which helps to hold the body’s organs in place, Federal Brace’s corbel fib support
functions on the same principle. The corbel rib support maintains stability to prevent a flimsy, loose corbel
installation. Wood corbels have long been attached using a screw installed through the corbel or inserted in a
keyhole mount in the back. Both of these options have considerable flaws:
Screw Inserted through corbel
Risk of busted or split corbel
No weight-bearing capacity
You must fill the hole and match stain
Leaves a loose corbel
All of the weight is on the screw
Difficult to properly align
The corbel rib increases the support of a standard wood corbel by over 200 pounds, allowing it to be more than
a mere decorative element. Each wood corbel installed with the corbel rib has a carrying capacity of up to 375
pounds when installed in a stud or blocking tied into the structure. Previously wood corbels could only be used
for a fancy shelf, decorative mantelpiece, or under counter decor with little support, now using rib supports,
they are significantly more functional, stronger, and more durable - even in high traffic areas.
Determine if you are hanging or hard mounting. This will determine the next steps.
- Hanging will need to be completed pre-countertop, using keyhole mounts with no weight capacity.
- Hard mounting can be completed after the countertop is installed using various methods. Attaching from the
back or using a fastener through a pre-drilled hole from the front, filling the hole with putty and finishing.
- The connection between the corbel and the wall. While fasteners are provided with the Federal Brace corbel
rib if you are using your own corbel and hard mounting you will need to make sure the fasteners are long
enough to get a good “bite” through all the material and into the corbel. Check the material thickness of the
wall and blocking for appropriate length.
- Wall material should be more than sheetrock or ¼” cabinet plywood. Locate the stud in the wall for a shelf
or install blocking inside your base cabinet from top to bottom to provide a strong support structure.
- For weight support, the size of the wood corbel is important. Be sure your corbel is within 4” of the end of
the shelf or countertop.
- Apply your finish to your corbels prior to installing. This will prevent staining or painting on the area
adjacent to the corbels. Touch-ups can be made once installed if needed.
Important to Note:
When weight capacity is important, using a corbel rib support with your wood
corbel is the best option. The metal corbel rib will carry the load, while the wood corbel provides the decor,
giving you the traditional look of wood with the strength of metal.