I would like to build a wall size bookshelf that is approximately 16
feet long and 8 feet high. I would like movable shelves although the
bookshelf carcass itself would be permanent. I have a walnut desk so the
face frame will probably be walnut but the shelving would be stained
plywood. Any suggestions on where to look for information on construction?
I have a shop and have made furniture but have never made a built an
entertainment unit or this type of shelving. Can anyone recommend a
magazine article or book reference? Online plans?
Assuming this is not a troll...
I would suggest making this as a series of boxes. Pick up
some shelving standards from Rockler or Woodcraft (as two examples..
there are other places, although Rockler seems to have good prices and
quick service). Build the box so that the diagonal of the narrow
side is 1" shorter than the height of the ceiling. Put in one
permanent shelf about half way up the box. Put in the adjustable
shelf standards in the sides and put a back on the box.
Finish to the level you are happy with.
Don't make the box more than 36" wide (internal), or with
3/4" shelves, you may have sagging problems. By adding support
strength (say...dadoing in angle iron along the front and back of
the shelves) you can go up to 50" or so.
Try to lay things out so that all the boxes are the same
size...and cut all the similar pieces at once. That will ensure that
everything matches and will likely go together without trouble.
Now...if you want some decoration...we can talk about
crown molding at top and bottom of the boxes, and some sort of
edge molding for the shelves and edges of the boxes.
Of course, there is more than one way to do this. YOu could
make a series of "uprights" out of 3/4" stock. Cut them the length
needed to go from floor to ceiling, and, the desired depth of the
shelves (I usually like 10" or 11"). dado in adjustable shelf
standards from top to bottom on both sides. Find the studs in the
walls, and attach the uprights to the studs with long deck screws,
driven through pocket holes. Be sure to plumb things up as you attach
the uprights. Put a decorative molding across the top of the
uprights, attaching it to each one with a long screw. THis will
help stabilize things.
Now...if you do it this way...be sure to always index the
shelf standards off the SAME end of the board. For example,
always start at the bottom. The deal is that the slots in the
shelf standards match front to back, and, from standard to standard.
Otherwise you will have shelves that will rock (because they are only
sitting on three supports) or will tilt (because the supports on one
end are lower than at the other).
In either case, you certainly can use a chunk of pegboard
to drill evenly spaced holes and use pins to hold the shelves. I just
kind of like the shelf standards with horizontally slotted holes, and
the little, clip-in supports that snap into two of the slots. They
come in various colors (dark brown is nice and blends well with most
woods, or you can go with Almond for the contrast) and are very
strong, non-wearing, and easy to adjust.
Dave, having read your reply, and Ross's, and also being someone who is
interested in building the same basic bookcase set, I'm wondering why
more room is not given for height? Knowing that I'll build mine in the
shop, then cart them into the house when completed, somehow someway I
have to stand them up when each is completed and then attach them to the
wall. Therefore a 1" clearence is inadequate when tipping them upright.
Or did both of you do final assembly inside so it wasn't an issue?
Dave Mundt wrote:
I'm looking at building a library to replace my collection of rather sorry
bookcases accumulated over the years. I found a lot of useful information and
No affiliation, etc.
American Woodworker, a few years ago, ran several articles on built-in
bookshelves. One was last year. They are basicly a series of partitions
attached to the wall. Mine are 12 inches deep by 8 feet tall (less 1/2
inch). They consist of two faces of plywood with 2"x2" between. This makes
a partition 3 inches thick. The sides are drilled to accept shelf pins.
They are attached to the wall by setting a 2x2 on the wall, screwed top and
bottom. The partition is built with a 2.5" deep pocket along the wall side
that slips over the 2x2 on the wall. Tapering the 2x2 on the wall makes
things slip together easier. I pinned mine to the 2x2 on the wall with a
brad nailer. After that, you just apply face frames and trim to your taste.
Very solid. You can add door units, shelves, a window seat and desk in my
One question on the height. If you have an 8' ceiling it is convenient
to make the bookcase about 6.5' high. You can place things on top of
the bookcase so you still get use of the full 8'. I find it a little
overpowering to have the bookcase extend completely to the ceiling.
Every option has a trade-off. Stopping short of ceiling brings a
place for dust to gather. Our garage cabinets stop short of roofline
and have sloped tops hoping to slow down the accumulation of sawdust
and CRAP! I'm leaning toward preferring the trim to the ceiling like
our recent kitchen re-do cabinets.
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