"safe" bookcase dimesions?

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Hello everyone,
As a 30th wedding anniversary present, we bought a bookcase. We went to a furniture store that does custom building using various components and options...we have absolutely no experience in this so we relied on the owner's expertise as to dimensions, etc.
The bookcase is maple, 32" Wx80"Hx12.5" deep. It has one set of glass doors measuring 60" high which come up to about 64". The top shelf is therefore fixed and open. There are 3 moveable shelves. We wanted it deeper to accomodate some atlases but were advised against wasting the space and additional expense for a couple of volumes which could reside on the top open shelf. So, at the owner's recommendation, we went with 12.5" deep.
It's very unstable! Even with heavy books on the bottom shelf, it will tip forward when the 2 doors are opened. I called the furniture store and was told that the bookcase is not deep enough to support its height with those doors, and that I must bolt it to the wall. I was told this is a common practice and that surely, I understood this before I ordered it. Unfortunately, it never even occurred to me that a bookcase couldn't stand on its own four feet, and we're not in an earthquake prone area so it's not something we think about. If we have to bolt it to a wall, we can't put it in the room where we want it.
Am I just terribly dim? Does everybody but me know that you have to bolt bookcases to walls, and therefore, the owner had no reason to mention this fact to me? Would it be adequately stable if the depth were greater, or is it a hopeless cause?
I appreciate any input you have to offer. thanks, Lily
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Go with the flow and attach it to the wall. Not that difficult a task. Make sure the point(s) on the wall you attach it to are studs, not drywall. Attach it "high" (a little below the top, not near or below the middle).
I won't judge your ability or inability to have known of this possibility -- or the fellow that made it advising you beforehand's letting you know. But something with a 12.5:80 depth:height ratio, with doors that stand out an additional 16", will be unstable. Period.
Jim Stuyck -- BSME long ago, when the earth's crust was still cooling

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If the footprint of the base where it meets the floor is also 32" x 12.5" in order for it to tip to a first approximation the doors must weigh at least as much as the rest of the bookcase. This seems unlikely. How far back from the front of the bookcase are the feet?
I have many bookcases in my homes and none are bolted to the wall.
RB
Lily Fern wrote:

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I built a bookcase without doors that is almost the same dimensions as you state (mine was 80" H x 36" wide x 12.5" deep). It has absolutely no stability issues whatsoever. I have a LOT of books in it, as well as some crystal items, etc. and it doesn't wobble or tilt or anything.
I did a very quick look at a few furniture websites and every bookcase I found that was over 72" tall that had doors was at least 15" deep. This isn't comprehensive by any means, but it sounds to me like your furniture maker should have known enough to make the case deeper to accomodate the weight of the open doors.
I for one would never expect to HAVE to attach a piece of furniture to a wall. It's a good idea if you have young children or something, but I can't see it as a common practice that you would have assumed.
If I were you, I'd demand they make me a new one, stop payment on the check if possible and take the item back.
Mike

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can't
check
<SNIP>
I disagree with Mike's belief that you should demand a new bookcase, but agree that it would have been nice if they told you during the design process that it should be attached to the wall. Every tall bookcase that I have looked at in a furniture store comes with instructions that it must be secured to the wall. Even at 15" deep stability can be a problem. Many times the instability has nothing to do with the design, but with the floors & walls in the house. Molding on bottom of the wall, or the nail strip for carpets, can make the bookcase want to tip forward. My suggestion is to attach it to the wall.
Bob McBreen - Yarrow Point, WA
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Even commercial chests of drawers are now shipped with anchor straps and warnings not to use them as stepladders. Have to say that the tack strip/carpet (sometimes molding) observation is right on target.

I
be
floors
for
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[...]

I do. For example all bookcases you can get at IKEA (do you have that in America also?) come with a short woven belt to attach them to the wall, even those which mus less problematic dimension.

I *do* see it as common practice.
--
Dr. Juergen Hannappel http://lisa2.physik.uni-bonn.de/~hannappe
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
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Frankly, the store SHOULD have mentioned this.
Don't know of any fix other than returning and getting something deeper OR fasten it to the wall
John
On 20 Jan 2004 10:40:13 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Lily Fern) wrote:

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On Tue, 20 Jan 2004 10:40:13 -0800, Lily Fern wrote:

Anchor it to the wall. Kitchen cabinets are anchored, why can't you do the same for a bookcase, especially one not particularly deep?
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Lily Fern wrote:

If you have no experience with furniture I can understand you being unaware of the need to fasten the bookcase to the wall, it it a common practice though. Teh seller may have had some obligation to tell you this, but it is arguable. You say that you can't use it in the intended room if it has to be fastened to the wall, why not? The bookcase will cover the fasteners. No matter what the walls are made of, some sort of fastener can be used. If you have a baseboard issue that keeps the bookshelf from being tight up against the wall use a french cleat to stabilise it. Just my thoughts, YMMV. Dave in Fairfax
--
reply-to doesn't work
use:
daveldr at att dot net
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Lily Fern) wrote in

OK, first off check that it's not leaning forward when the doors are closed. It's common when carpet is installed to fold the edge under at the wall, which makes the carpet thicker there (and causes anything set against the wall to tilt away from it). If this is the case you can try shimming under the front to get the bookcase to set level or lean back a tad toward the wall.
If it's level and still tips forwards, then you've basically got the choice of fastening it to the wall, or making it heavy enough low enough to keep the center of gravity behind the doors. If books in the bottom won't work, you could try a couple of lead bricks (try a marine supply store, you're looking for "ballast" quite literally).
John
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Good point...or a "tack strip" making the bookcase lean forward, in which case the bookcase is too close to the wall.
Jim Stuyck
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Out of curiosity, is it unstable when filled with books or when its sitting empty and the doors are open? Seems like it should be quite stable when its full of books.
Lily Fern wrote:

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"Lily Fern" wrote in message

Don't make this into a Federal case. A simple nylon web strap, fastened to both the wall and the top back of the bookshelf, is all you need in order to enjoy your purchase.
If you do it properly, the resultant hole in the wall should be no more objectionable, when you move, than one required to hang a large picture.
You owe it to any children you have to do this with ANY tall, shallow bookshelves in any event .. it is just plain commonsense if you have, or expect to have, children in a house at any time.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 1/16/04
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Hi Lily, Get a connector plate with 2 holes in it. Determine where (just above the bookcase top) a stud is behind the wall and mark the wall and bookcase. Move the bookcase away from the wall and screw the connector plate into the top of the bookcase back such that half of the connector plate extends above the bookcase top. Move the bookcase back against the wall, lining up where you marked the stud location, and drive a screw through he connector plate into the wall. Your bookcase won't tip over (and is earthquake secure.) HTH
On 20 Jan 2004 10:40:13 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Lily Fern) wrote:

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The last parenthetical point is not necessarily true. The "authorities" recommend against rigid connection in earth- quake country. Rigid connections are prone to breaking whereas you want something that will "go with the flow".
And, BTW, everywhere is earthquake country. It's just more likely in some areas than others.
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Gosh...thanks for all your speedy and thoughtful replies! I think it's clear that we can't expect a bookcase of these dimensions to be free standing. In answer to some questions, in no particular order:
1) the bookcase is already pulled away from the wall because there is indeed a nailing strip or something under the carpet along the edge, which caused it to fall forward even with doors closed. (I don't mean "tilt" forward, I mean fall over.) this strip is about 4 inches wide, which means whatever we'd use to attach would have to be that long.
2) As renters we have to get approval to do such things...which has not been easy in the past. So we'd prefer a free standing bookcase, which is what we thought we were buying since nothing we looked at in the shop was bolted to the walls. However, we didn't see this particular configuration...we were just told it would work.
3) the bookcase is loaded down with heavy books on the bottom 2 shelves, AND we have it tilted slightly backwards until we resolve this. (It came with 2 leveling feet in the front.) I don't know the exact angle, but it's about 1 inch closer to the wall at the top than the bottom. Yet even with it tilted backwards, it tilts forward a good half inch when the doors are opened. So yes, it would definitely have to be secured in some way.
Meanwhile, I've had a discussion with the owner of the shop who has admitted that this particular bookcase was not designed to accomodate these doors, and that we probably should have been warned it would not be free standing...she just didn't realize it would be a problem for us. So we've been given the option of replacing it with a 60" high 12.5" or an 80" high 16", with us paying any additional cost if we take the deeper one.
thanks again for your help! :-) Lily

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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Lily Fern) writes:

You also have another possibility: Either modify the feet/side walls of the book case so that it stays clear of theis four inch strip, or put some piece of wood with a groove in it under the front part of the case so that it can stand flush against the wall, i guess with 4 inches distance it looks pretty awful.
Then make the bookcase higher, so that it goes right up to the ceiling: If the case extension is really rigid its then impossible for the whole thing to fall over. I used this solution for bookcases which come up almost to the ceiling: I just added a piece of wood at the wall side of the case between the top shelf and the ceiling, and voila: no more tipping over.
--
Dr. Juergen Hannappel http://lisa2.physik.uni-bonn.de/~hannappe
mailto: snipped-for-privacy@physik.uni-bonn.de Phone: +49 228 73 2447 FAX ... 7869
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Lily Fern) wrote in

Wow - those must be very heavy doors. I wonder if it would be possible to replace the glass with lucite or some other plastic, and reduce the weight, thus improving stability.
John
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John McCoy wrote:

Have you considered a french cleat? Basically you get a couple of boards (I have used planed down 2x4s in my shop) and cut a 45 degree miter down the length of one side of each. That way, they "nest" in each other along the length. Screw one to the wall, the other to the bookcase (unloaded) and lift the bookcase until it engages. I used this method on my clamp rack which holds a lot of weight and it works like a charm. You can also use multiple cleats. Here's one person's writeup on french cleats...... www.benchmark.20m.com/plans/FrenchCleat.pdf

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