The following is a text description of a book case I came up with as a
shop project for a young lady that I was teaching shop to this summer.
I have not included any gross dimensions as they are variable,
depending on the customer's needs.
The unit was constructed out of 1x2 straight-grained pine for the
sides and 3/4" plywood for the shelves. (Plus hardware.)
The sides of the bookcase look like ladders with the rungs spaced on
6" centers. (They could be spaced on 4" centers for more flexibility
in setting shelf spacing.) The rungs have 2" rabbets on each end that
are about 1/3" deep and they fit in similar dados in the vertical
members. The dados were cut with something akin to a finger jointing
jig to keep them consistant in width and spacing.
The top and bottom rung have a filler strip added to bring their side
surfaces flush with the surface of the vertical members. These filler
strips are a little less than 1.5" wide and are aligned with the lower
edge of the rung. On the unit we made, the vertical sides extend a
few inches below the bottom rung, but they could end flush with the
bottom of the bottom rung.
The shelves are cut from the sheet plywood and are fitted with solid
wood faces on the front edge. The edges of the shelves are notched to
fit through the spaces between the rungs and to extend the shelves
past the outside of the rungs by 0.5". A 0.5" x 0.5" cleat is guled
and nailed to the bottom of each side of the shelf to capture the
sides between the cheeks on the shelves and the cleats against the
We milled up some mild steel strips about 0.25 x 0.5 x 6" and attached
them with #10 wood screws to the outsides of the top and bottom rungs,
centered on the filler strips. The steel pieces extend about 1/4
beyond the back of the bookcase. We then made up two cable assemblies
with wire loops on each end and turnbuckles in the middle. The loops
on the ends of the cables slip over the ends of the steel strips and
the turnbuckles are tightened to provide cross bracing so the unit
When pressure is applied to the side of the uint, it responds by
twisting, but if the shelves are a close fit, and they are loaded with
books, this is minimized.
This unit is going in a dorm room with concrete walls, so the stell
extending out the back isn't an issue. In other environments, it
would probably be a good idea to add spacers to the back of the sides
to keep the steel from contacting the wall. Also, the unit is going
to sit on a flat, concrete floor. If it were being used on a carpeted
floor, I would make the front legs about 1/2" longer than the rear
legs to clear the tack strip at the edge of the carpet and to bias the
unit to lean into the wall.
Thin wood strips could also be glued to outside edges of the shelves
to cover the cleats and the exposed plywood edge.
I hope this is reasonably coherent.