Floor to Ceiling Bookshelves...


Old 08-30-04, 05:30 PM
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Floor to Ceiling Bookshelves...

My wife has tasked me, a novice woodworker, with building floor to ceiling bookshelfs in our study. To really challenge me, she wants to tie together two sections on two walls with a corner unit. I am confident I can do this, but need some guidance. I plan on using moulding top and bottom to cover imperfections in the room. The house is 85yrs young and has settled a wee bit. Any suggestions on wood choice, construction tips, etc. This is not something I am going to rush into, so any help with planning will be taken with appreciation.
Old 08-30-04, 05:45 PM
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Well Andrew, that's a pretty formidable task for a 'novice'. Floor to ceiling bookcases aren't that difficult but they do take some planning and skill. Making corner units can get a little tricky since there's no such thing as a square corner (or plumb wall) in most houses.

You have a couple of issues to deal with here...........type of wood and how to build the units. The first is just as matter of your taste (well, hers, actually ) and budget.

To deal with the second, I would suggest visiting some furniture stores and look at how corner units are built and tied together. You might also look for plans for corner units so you can see how others have done it.

In the meanwhile, feel free to ask questions. I'll answer as many as I can and I'm sure other folks will help too.
Old 08-30-04, 08:21 PM
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Andrew, I've completed something similar to what you described, except for the corner piece. One thing that I did and would definitely suggest is putting some thought into the frame of these bookshelves. I essentially created a box from 2x4s and mounted one to the floor and one to the ceiling. Then I went a little further with the framework to make sure this unit would be solid, maybe some would say too far, but I know I can hide under this bookshelf and survive most natural disasters. And the best thing is you can't see any of this framework.

Feel free to ask specifics. I'll answer whatever I can. I'll also see if I can get a hold of somebody's digital camera and post some pics for you. I definitely agree with Dave - do a good amount of looking around at bookshelves, similar furniture, and some built in units. It will not only help you determine how to tackle this project, but it can also be used as an opportunity to help your wife decide exactly what she wants. This way, you only have to do it once!
Old 09-06-04, 11:12 AM
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I am not a 'professional' cabinetmaker. I have, however, built many bookcases and other builtins. The first thing is to decide whether this will be natural or painted wood. This will drive many of the choices. I always use cabinet grade plywood for all sides and shelves. If painted a paint grade birch or maple is fine. Wood veneer edging will cover the exposed edges.

Keep the shelves at around 3 ft in length. Anything longer will sag over time. If you go with a face frame, poplar is fine for paint. There are many very good books that will guide you through the construction details. Go to the library, find one you can understand. Make a drawing and good luck.

Post questions let us know how you are doing.
Old 09-06-04, 01:12 PM
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I may also be building a bookshelf but if it runs to the ceiling it will be 9 feet tall (minus toe kick). How do you build 9 foot sides from veneer ply?
I'm planning on doing a finish side design (2 layers of ply on the outside) to allow the face frame to to be flush with the outside of the frame and still overhang the inside the same amount as the center stiles. By doing this I suppose I could stagger the joints on the two layers and it would be very strong. Can a stain grade ply veneer joint be made nearly invisible?

The more I think about it I may be better off making this 2 distinct sections - one "base unit" perhaps with some cupboards and a slightly smaller book shelf on top.

Andrew one of the best books on built in bookshelves is Finish Carpentry by Katz. You only need one chapter so you may be able to find it at the library.

Last edited by AlexH; 09-06-04 at 01:48 PM.
Old 09-07-04, 10:51 AM
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Andrew - I have to do the same thing -- building two 42" cabinets with 4' bookshelves on top with a corner unit in between. If you figure things out, especially how to build the corner unit, please let me know.

Also, does anyone know where I can buy MDF or wood cabinet doors? I don't see them for sell at the big box stores.

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