Should I put a permanent shelf in the middle of a bookcase?

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You're making an assumption or three. If the back is attached to each side it does not affect how each side will bend. Only the height, side construction and material, and the lateral load from the books are factors.
The _shelves_ are another story. It is not possible to have a 6' shelf made out of 3/4" ply carrying a load of books without intermediate supports, attaching all of the shelves to the back (and that's still going to sag like a bad mama jama), or having really teeny tiny books.
R
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wrote:

I made some bookshelves about 35 years ago, three 6' high by 3' wide, doug fir plywood and pine (I think?) edging -- not face frames. I did fix the centre shelf (dado & glue), but the verticals eventually bowed out and the shelf still came apart as I jammed books in.
So today I would use a sliding dovetail instead of a simple dado.
This is my experience. Now the face frame might change things. But I would still fix the centre shelf.
YMMV
Luigi
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"Luigi Zanasi" wrote:

I'd use 3/4" side panels with 3/16" deep dado and then install 3, #12 x 1, FH, coarse thread sheet metal screws bunged with 1/4" bungs to hold shelves.
No cross grain glue joints, screws keep sides from bowing, dado handles book load in shear.
It's a win/win situation.
Lew
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Burn an X in the bungs with a soldering iron. When people ask about them say, "What? You never saw a wood screw before?" ;)
R
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