First, buy a good cutlist program. Design/draw one bookshelf, enter the
parts and let the program optimize the cuts. Tweak your design to cut down
If standalone bookshelves, I personally would design them using walnut
plywood (3/4" for the sides, 1/4" for the backs) and solid walnut face
frames. The face frames, besides adding strength, give a well designed piece
the look of being solid wood.
Use a 3/4" AB grade ply for the shelves. Make the center shelf part the
carcass, with face frame rail, for added strength ... remaining shelves
Use a 3/8" walnut edge banding on the adjustable shelves (if you buy S2S
walnut you will probably have enough scraps to do this), they will add a bit
of stiffness for your 30" span, which may be bordering on a bit too much of
a span with heavy books..
MDF, IMO is too damn heavy for bookcases unless they are built in and are
going to be painted.
I am in the process of building 120 linear feet of bookshelves for my
library. With a total of 8 shelves (including the bottom and top
shelf) that comes to about 960' of 10" boards. The cost to do it all
in Walnut would have been a second on the house so I have been using
3/4" Maple plywood I bought at Home Depot for $29.00 a sheet on sale.
I get 4 8' shelves out of it and the remaining piece I use for a 2'
kicker at the bottom and a 4' piece for the top facing from the top of
the top shelf to the ceiling with a 1 1/2" trim piece on top of it.
The average span per shelf is about 41" and supports the books well.
If, in the future they do sag I will add support strips. I ripped 1/4"
thick facing from solid Maple planks. It looks good but the staining
was difficult as there is a slight difference in color. Hard to see
unless you you are right in front of it.
I will post some pictures on our site at www.librarydesigns.com in a
week or so for viewing.
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