my first builtin shelf...

I'm a beginner, so please bear with me. :) I need some advice.
I just finished installing my first builtin shelf, into my TV nook. It is a fairly large hardwood shelf, supported on three sides, with a few trims.
The problem is that one of the supporting walls is not straight. It is a little bow shaped, and the shelf does not fully meet the wall. That side is about 2' and I get a bow-shaped gap in the middle of that side, which gets to be up to 1/4" at the center (I think? working from memory.)
I am using some corner trim all around the shelf to make things look nicer, and I was hoping that I could force the trim to meet the wall, but alas, it turns out there is no support at that portion of the wall to keep the trim bent that way (no wall beam, just sheetrock).
So, I'm thinking caulk may help (it's next on my list of to-do things). Questions:
1. What type of caulk should I use, specifically for this problem? This is not a very accessible shelf, but I expect that part of the shelf to have a little play over time, so I'd like something that would not crack too easily. Of course, this would also need to take paint. I was planning to use regular painter's caulk, before I had this issue.
2. Should I fill in the gap before caulking? If so, with what?
Thanks for any advice. db
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You have a couple of solutions. If the shelf is already cut to size, you'll probably waste it but it can be fit. Take a pair of dividers or a simple compass with pencil and trace the contour of the wall onto the shelf. Run the point against the wall while the pencil marks the shelf. Cut it out to fit. Of course you will lose about 1/4" of the material so you must allow for that and cut the shelf to size after the fitting of the bowed side.
Another is to make the trim fit. Make some small relief cuts in the back of the trim so it bends easily. Once that is done, nail the trim to the shelf instead of the wall. A little wood glue would help it stay forever.
Caulk is for hacks. You asked how to do the fix so I'm thinking you don't want to be a hack.
--
Ed
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On Tue, 01 Mar 2005 03:30:34 +0000, Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

<snip>
Like Ed sez, don't be a hack. While caulk has its place, this is not it. Do it right & you'll be a lot happier and prouder.
--
Luigi
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On Mon, 28 Feb 2005 21:07:43 +0000, the inscrutable "Luigi Zanasi"

I disagree. Granted, scribing a trim piece to properly fit the wall is the only way to go for clearcoated wood (I don't do stain), a painted shelving unit can easily hide caulk with careful knifing. To me, a dark shadow line at a white wall/white cabinet intersection is more ugly than well- and carefully-applied caulk.
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I agree and I would much rather have a caulk line than a piece of trim wood that is visibly bent to follow the wall. The OP has a particularly nasty situation with 1/4" gap over such a short span, so there is no good way to deal with it short of feathering the wall with spackle and painting the wall. Given the situation, my vote for the best of all evils would be a nice straight trip piece and a caulk filler. At least the caulk filler won't be visible from normal viewing positions, or would not be as visibly incorrect as a curved piece of trim. It's all a matter of taste.
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