If your intention is to use the corbel as a means of support, such as underneath a counter top, the depth of the corbel you choose must be at least 1/2 of the depth of the overhang which it will support. If your intention is to use corbels as a means to brace shelving, then you must choose a corbel that is at least 2/3 of the depth of the shelf which it will support, since the corbel will be the shelf’s sole means of support.
When incorporating wood corbels into your home for purely decorative reasons, choosing the correct sized corbel is based upon the proportions of the surface you’re working with, as well as the physical details of the corbel itself.
If you intend to place the corbel above the fluting of a pilaster, the key dimension you are working with is the width of the corbel. The corbel should measure as wide, though no wider than 1/2 inch of the pilaster.
If you intend to place the corbel underneath a structural beam, the key dimension you are focused on is the width of the corbel. The corbel’s width should measure as wide as the width of the beam, or no smaller than 1/4 inch of the width of the beam.
If you intend to place the corbel beneath a countertop, the key dimension you are focused on is the depth of the corbel. The same rule applies when using the corbel as means of support: the corbel should measure at least 1/2 of the depth of the countertop’s overhang; or more preferably, exactly 3/4 of the depth of the overhang.
If you intend to place the corbels inside a door opening or entryway, the key dimensions you are working with is width. The corbels’ widths should measure the same as the width of the doorway. They should never measure smaller than 2 inches of the doorway’s width, with 1 inch on either side. Also, special consideration should be given to the sides of the corbel, since the carved details will face outwards. The carved details will be the first glimpse of the corbels one sees when passing through the doorway.
If you intend to place the corbels on either side of a kitchen’s stove hood, you are working with both dimensions of width and depth. The corbel should be rather large; at least 12 inches deep. If cabinets will abut the corbel, the sides of the corbel should be flat, so it will be flush with the cabinets
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