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· Old School
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You could install long through dowels connecting the shelf to the verticals. Make a pattern as a template for placing the holes.That may help some. To retain the rustic look, adding gussets may not be visually appealing. If you screw down the shelf to the vertical below it, and screw up into the vertical above it (at an angle), with substantially large screws (not pocket screws), that would give some rigidity.

If the unit will be free standing, you could use brackets similar to this, on the back edges. Of course, adding a full back, and/or mounting it to the wall would be optimum. Unless there is a large difference in level, I wouldn't concern myself with wedges or shims.

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