Request help with bookcase

Folks, I need some help, and this newsgroup is as close as I could find to the issue. I hope some of you can makes some time to read this and give me your expert advice as woodworkers.
I recently purchased a replica bookcase made from solid mahogany. It's a 6 part bookcase, with a base that runs the entire length, 2 bottom units with wooden doors, 2 top units with glass doors, and a crown that again runs the full length.
Here's a picture. Note, this is not the store where I bought it from. http://www.mrhiggins.nl/product.php?p 9
The bookcase is OK, but the guys that delivered it obviously weren't used to placing these large pieces of furniture. They didn't bring any tools at all.
They assembled the bookcase in the room, then pushed it against the wall where it was supposed to stand, then asked for some little bits of wood to put under one corner to straighten it (after I told them it was hanging over to the front on one side). Then they left. They kinda looked like amateurs.
The bookcase now slightly moves to the back if you push it on one corner, it's not entirely supported. Also, and this is the bigger problem, the 2 bottom units no longer align, one is no longer standing straight in the base. The company said just to fill it with books and it would move into place by itself. The top units can be moved together (they're not locked into place, their weight keeps them in place) but there's a gap at the bottom where they meet. Looks like the case is sorta sagging in the middle.
I am under the impression the base is actually no longer straight, pressure from the weight seems to make the board move outwards.
The base is basically a rather thin board on its side running the four sides. Not feet. But with the bit of wood under one corner, the entire bookcase just rests on the four corners of the board, there's no support in the middle whatsoever.
My questions:
- is this safe? If you'd design a base like this, isn't it supposed to be supported over the entire length?
- is the company correct? Will it move into place by itself if it starts carrying weight?
- if not, what is the proper way of setting up this type of furniture, taking the uneven floor into account?
I'm a bit miffed at the company, since I'm alone, disassembling/reassembling this won't be easy. Need to get some kind neighbour to help. So if it has to be done, I want to make sure it's done the right way first time.
All advice is very much appreciated!
Happy holidays all!
Neko
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This is a large unit and because it is in six pieces, any unevenness in the base is going to only get worse as you add height and pieces.
The bookcase needs to be unstacked and the base piece shimmed to the uneven floor to bring it to flat and level with full lenght bearing on the floor then as the pieces are added they need to be lined up and connected with screws in inconspicous places. Somewhere out of sight and along the top edge it would be useful to connect the unit to the wall with brackets.
If delivery and setup was included in the deal, I would make an effort to get this redone by the company that sold you the bookcase.
basilisk
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I agree with basilisk. By your description of work, seems the purchase included delivery and set-up, so the company is obligated to supply competent installers. Have them come back and install it correctly. A competent installer would be aware that not all homes are perfectly level and would come equipted to install correctly in any situation. A competent company would hire or train competent installers, also.
replica competent company with replica competent installers
Sonny
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Hi Sonny,

^^^^^^^^^^^^ There's the problem :-) Having them come again wouldn't really solve anything.

Yes indeed it would. My guess is, they will as soon as they can afford it. Being a two person start-up means they probably can't afford it now. If I ever buy a bookcase or large piece of furniture from them again, I'll have to add the cost of a pro installer as extra :-/
The quality of what they sell isn't top level (but I could never afford an English bookcase actually made by traditional English furniture makers) but it is solid wood, nicely enough crafted, and very affordable (the guy I linked to sells from the same Indonesian manufacturer, at more than double the prices. Paying more doesn't always get you better quality). I searched for a long time to find a seller of solid wood furniture here, all chipwood and Ikea stuff here. People don't seem to like lcassic style here, they're all Ikea fanatics. So apart from the installation troubles I'm pretty happy with these replacements for my old Ikea junk :-)
Thanks for your advice! Have a merry Xmas!
Neko
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That's what I figured and why I posted here for advice, before I started doing all that work and having to empty it again later :-)

Got it. Another poster posted a guide, I'll take care to follow it.

I can screw the two bottom units together if needed. Do you feel securing the top to the wall is really necessary? I don't have kids who'd go climbing up the bookcase. I can do this if necessary though.

I could call and ask them to come again. But since they clearly didn't know what they were doing the first time round, I rather do it myself according to the excellent advice given by all you guys. Thanks again for that!
Have a great Xmas!
Neko
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KuroNeko wrote:

You don't *have* to but it is a good idea. Another way to secure it is by fixing a block of 2x4 to the wall so it is tight against the unit.
--

dadiOH
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KuroNeko wrote:

Before you do anything else, check to make sure that they actually assembled the units so that they were square. If they didn't then until you correct that you're going to be fighting an uphill battle.
To check, just measure the diagonals going both ways and make sure they're the same--you can do this with a piece of string--pull it tight along one diagonal, mark the string at the outside corners, then pull it along the other and see if the marks match--if they don't then it's out of square and you need to fix that.
Next set the base in place and level and shim it. You're going to need some kind of level to do that--one that's a little longer than the longest dimension will let you not only level it but also use the level as a reference surface so you can be sure the base is flat enough along the top.
Here's an illustrated description of the shimming process and an alternative scribing process, http://books.google.com/books?id=9pGGZsRHXlwC&pg=PT155&lpg=PT155&dq=shimming+cabinet+base&source=bl&ots=MJkRGWPyNH&sig=CXV-GkhnWmWD81qk2uZ_YFLGWYE&hl=en&ei=q8MwS-q1MYaIswPT7vTBBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved BkQ6AEwAzgK#v=onepage&q=shimming%20cabinet%20base&flse or http://tinyurl.com/ykpmmgw . You want to shim, not scribe, unless you're _sure_ that the bookcase will never be moved. At a minimun you want solid support (either shim or floor) under each corner and under the center in front and back and you may want more. You can find premade shimming wedges at a building supply store.
Once the shims are in place you'll want to cut them off flush with the front--some blue painters' tape on the front of the base will protect it from getting scarred by the saw or chisel you use to do that (if you don't have a good sharpening setup then go with a saw--you want one purpose-made for flush cutting such as http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=1&p2928&cat=1,42884, or a Fein Multimaster or one of its clones if you happen to have one).
Now assemble the bookcase and it should sit level and be well supported. You may have unsightly gaps under it though--if so, you can get some molding and mahogany stain and use the molding to cover the gaps.
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Thanks very much for the detailed reply! Excellent guide on how to do it.
The assembly is pretty straighforward, they didn't really mess that up. These guys simply didn't have experience in doing this. They didn't check if it was level, just shoved it against the wall and put some wood under a corner to keep it from leaning over. That's maybe good enough if your bookcase is on 4 feet, but with this construction it doesn't work so it seems.
Thanks for all the clarification and help. I'm more confindent I can fix this now
I've asked a co-worker with lots of muscle to come and help :-)
Have a merry Xmas!
Neko
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KuroNeko wrote:

The retailer is at fault for not installing the product properly.
Do the doors open and close without trouble in the bottom unit? If the base is not level and the bottom unit is sagging in the middle, the doors not working properly would be another indication of that.
"fill it with books" to make it sit properly?? That is nonsense and the sign of poor design.
From your description, the picture, and having built many similar units, I suspect that you've bought a poorly designed/built unit that will give you problems and would advise that you consider trying to get it replaced.
Short of that, find someone to install it properly and insure that it is well built enough to stand up to the task.
BTW, if you do install levelers, you would be best with six instead of the usual four; one on each corner, and two in the middle, front and back.
--
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Last update: 10/22/08
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So they are. In their defence, they're friendly enough and try their best as far as their knowledge goes. But they're a small start-up outfit that's more into the importing and selecting (of which they do a good enough job) but less in the installation. Once they get going I'm sure they'll get people for that. But that doesn't excuse the shoddy job now.

They open OK, but I noticed the right bottom doors don't close flush, they're a bit open at the bottom. I removed the bit of wood under the right corner (the only shim they placed) and now the doors' close better. So yes, it would seem you are right and the problem is indeed that the base is not level.

Nah, just "I don't really know how to solve this so I'll just make something up" reply. The bookcase is built the old fashioned way, pretty solid construction.

Not really an option. I think the build quality and design is OK, perhaps they should have used a thicker board to make the base of, but according to a local timbershop, it should really be fine. Just not on REALLY unlevel floors like in my old house.

I've read the advice of another poster on how to properly shim it and have asked a strong co-worker to come over and help.

I hear you! Thanks very much for all the good advice! Have a great Xmas!
Neko
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