Fittings for attaching grab handles to walls

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Forum topic by Dan Lyke posted 10-20-2010 01:26 AM 1303 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4091 days

10-20-2010 01:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question hardware shelf brackets

I’ve started on “the bathroom project”. I’ve told myself that I’m not undertaking any major new projects ‘til I get my new shop designed and built, but there are all of these several hour little projects that are so much fun I can’t put ‘em off and…

One of those projects is replacing the chromed metal towel racks in the bathroom. Except, of course, that the towel racks are never mounted solidly. To make matters worse, my sweety has a developmentally disabled brother, and when he comes to stay with us he’ll use anything in the bathroom to steady himself.

So these towel racks are going to need to be bombproof. Usable as grab handles. I should be able to stand on ‘em.

I’m gonna make ‘em out of some scrap Massaranduba, so the wood will be fine, but it’d be really if I can mount them either so that the screws are invisible, or so that the screws are a decorative part of the mounting.

My first thought was to put sliding dovetails on the wall ends of the posts that hold the rails away from the wall, and mill some stopped dovetails in plates that I screw on to the wall. Put the screw holes under the dovetails, screw those plates to the holes, slide the post/rail assembly down into the stopped dovetails. But that’s gonna be an alignment nightmare.

Current thought is to build those posts as “T”s, with the top of the T towards the wall, and just attach them with brass screws with visible heads.

But if anyone knows of the perfect piece of hardware to attach such things without making the attachment points visible, I’d love to have the benefit of your experience.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

9 replies so far

View jack1's profile


2103 posts in 3993 days

#1 posted 10-20-2010 04:15 AM

You might surface mount 1×3x however long you need, boards on the wall by screwing them into the studs where you want the towel racks first. Use enough (2-3 #8 or better/stud) screws and then plug them at each stud. Then, put your towel racks on with substantial screws (1 1/2 #8-#10). You should be able to do pull-ups on them bars…

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2949 days

#2 posted 10-20-2010 06:45 PM

Not quite sure of the design you have in mind, but a thought for non showing screws would be using Lag screws. Hope I have the name right my mind slips me at the moment. They’re the ones you see for attaching legs to tables type. You can get them in different sizes.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4091 days

#3 posted 10-20-2010 07:15 PM

Jack, if I couldn’t hit studs directly I was going to cut out wallboard and slap some 2×4s to the existing studs to make sure that I had sufficient support behind the wall. So I think the 1×3 would be superfluous (we live in a really small house; if I have to go into the wall to make something work, I will).

Greg, thanks for kicking my thinking a bit. That’d make the nuts exposed, rather than the screw heads, but that could be a good decorative look. And maybe I just do those screw-in inserts into a piece of wood to create a nut that’s mostly wood. Hmmm…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10355 posts in 3394 days

#4 posted 10-21-2010 02:18 PM

Here’s a web site for a product called ””Wingits””:
They are expensive, but they will do the trick. Have used them for retro installations in motels. They meet all code requirements when installed correctly.
Don’t buy the hole saw and mandrel listed on the site. Just get them from ACE or other.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View 489tad's profile


3352 posts in 2977 days

#5 posted 10-21-2010 03:02 PM

The dove tail idea is the way I’d go. Fun to build and it should not pull apart. If your concerned with hitting the wall studs you could open the wall in the area of the towel bar and add a sister stud or cross stud to accommodate your design. Good luck.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View CampD's profile


1653 posts in 3452 days

#6 posted 10-22-2010 01:52 AM

Dont know if you plan on opening up the wall to the studs, but in commercial construction and “Code”
for a Grab Handle has to be mounted to a solid backer. Before I sheetrock I cut 1’ wide pieces of 3/4 ply and let it in in the areas that will need it and then you can use sheetrock screws to install the grab rail, atleast 2 per side.

-- Doug...

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4091 days

#7 posted 10-22-2010 02:55 AM

I’m gonna open up the wall and put a 2×4 cross-piece in between the studs. The house is small enough that every ¾” counts, so I’ll do that rather than a visible piece on the outside. I like the WingIts, but I just don’t trust my button-board/plaster that much.

My main concern is making the attachment on the outside of the wall look nice. I got some “heavy duty” keyhole fasteners at the hardware store today that I’ll test a bit, see if the friction keeps them from pulling up too much, and if they’re strong enough to put my weight on down.

If not, then I’ll go with the dovetails, though I’m not sure that’ll be any stronger, even out of a good hard wood.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View CampD's profile


1653 posts in 3452 days

#8 posted 10-22-2010 11:05 PM

Let me clarify, The ply is set inbetween the studs and set flush, then sheetrocked over, I screw a nailer piece to the stud then screw the ply to that. Using a piece of ply min 1’ wide gives you a lot more options (and less guessing once its sheetrocked over) for the hight to attach the grap handle.
Just sayin, that is since your going to open up the wall.

-- Doug...

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1519 posts in 4091 days

#9 posted 10-22-2010 11:27 PM

Gotcha. and allowing for multiple levels makes a lot of sense. Thanks.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

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