Home library

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

Mjward

Established Member
Joined
18 Jan 2022
Messages
354
Reaction score
156
Location
Yorkshire
After I cut my teeth making built-ins for 3 bedrooms and a dressing room last year, I'm now ready for the big one, the home library. I am possibly doing this so that I have a great excuse to buy a Festool domino but the wife doesn't need to know that :)

The bookcases will wrap around three walls and incorporate a built in desk and log storage. Will mostly use 18mm hardwood plywood (it's what I used for built-ins and local timber merchant gets some nice looking stuff + books will be covering most of it). Will again use redwood for a faceframe, 38mm vertical width & 22mm thickness (i.e. 1mm overlap when placed where 2x 18mm panels meet), which will lip below each shelf to give a thicker appearance but also for strength. For the large exposed sides I will just scribe 18 MR MDF as these sides and the face frame will be painted, the plywood will not be.

Still have a few bits I need to get my head around:

1) I'm thinking of angling the middle shelf as a kind of display shelf for nice looking books but also to accomodate larger ones. Don't know whether to just have the angled shelf or add a flat shelf beneath it then add angled offcuts and sit the actual angled shelf on those. Picture on far right below
2) There are a lot of shelves. Not accurately represented in doodle below but basically using 300mm spacing for each shelf height. I've never made a dado or used a domino before. Dado seems like the stronger joint but my research suggest the domino is more than enough in this instance and far quicker.
3) Assuming I go down the domino route, how many & where are still not finalised. Obviously minimum 2 on shelf ends, would 3 make assembly significantly more difficult in terms of alignment? Given no "ends"of each bookcase will be visible, would it make more sense to just do 2 initial dominos for alignment then once assembled, use the domino cutter from the outside going through the side panels and into the middle of each shelf, then glue/add domino? Or would 2 be fine (with glue) on a 300mm deep shelf?
4) As previously mentioned, shelves will have a 38mm faceframe. Sagulator provides an estimated 0.49mm sag for the widest shelf (the 950mm) i.e. within the realms of "acceptable". Would it be worth doing like mentioned previously and once assembled, add dominos straight through from the back (12mm ply) into the shelf for added support or given number of shelves, the payoff not worth it? The other shelves a mix between 600 & 750mm and sagulator throws up 0.08-0.19mm of sag ie assuming definitely not worth it for those. Assume worst case could glue in a supporting batten underneath the back of affected shelves at a later date.
5) See a mixture of shelves inline with carcass and others slightly recessed, purely aesthetic or merit to either method?
6) Best way to secure the bookcases. For the wardrobes, I anchored the plinth to the wall (with rawl plugs) then screwed the wardrobe to the plinth and used steel L brackets to secure it to the wall at the top to prevent toppling. Same again here or is there a more appropriate method? I've highlighted in red what I envisage to be the best carcass subassemblies, with the 3 overhead units actually sitting over floor supported carcasses. That said, I plan to add a rolling ladder and rail so would like something slightly more significant in terms of support for those overhead/floating units.




Library dimensions.jpg
 
Hi, I'll leaves others more qualified than me for construction advice, but I wonder about the merits of a log store in a library environment, unless they are well seasoned and very dry logs. If not dry, then you risk introducing a high moisture content into a room full of paper books, which could be devastating for your book collection.
 
Hi, I'll leaves others more qualified than me for construction advice, but I wonder about the merits of a log store in a library environment, unless they are well seasoned and very dry logs. If not dry, then you risk introducing a high moisture content into a room full of paper books, which could be devastating for your book collection.
It's a good point to raise. The intention is that this would be for the dry stuff as opposed to the drying. Was thinking just a small section, 1/3 of the height type thing
 
I guess it depends on the look you are going for but have you considered putting some of the shelves on pins/pegs, would make things easier and be more flexible?
 
I guess it depends on the look you are going for but have you considered putting some of the shelves on pins/pegs, would make things easier and be more flexible?
The short version is that I've been an IKEA man for 20 years and now when I see bookcases (or wardrobes etc) with the pin holes it just gives me flat pack as opposed to bespoke vibes. They definitely have their merit re flexibility but 99% of my books are just your standard soft and hardback fiction so with 30cm shelf heights everything can be accommodated (plus the angled central shelf would give that flexibility to a degree)
 
What @Doug71 said.
If you fix the shelves with Dominoes, they are fixed for good. What I did was to use pins so I can easily adjust the shelf heights as books require. mine was a much smaller scale to yours, if I was doing the scale you are, I would fix the middle shelf with dominoes and use pins for the rest.
For fixing, mine is attached to a cupboard underneath, and L brackets to the wall at the top.
Shelf wise, I laminated 6mm veneered mdf, 12mm ply, 6mm veneered mdf, lipped the front with cherry , span is 740mm - no sag whatsoever.
 
I agree a 4 rows of holes on 32mm centres does look flat pack but you can just put holes where the shelf is going to be and then add more holes later if needed.

I normally use sockets in the holes and the Banjo type supports, these tend to suit the style of work I do but it does depend on what look you are aiming for.

https://www.marchesironmongery.co.uk/shelf-stud-st-florentine-bronz.html
 
What @Doug71 said.
If you fix the shelves with Dominoes, they are fixed for good. What I did was to use pins so I can easily adjust the shelf heights as books require. mine was a much smaller scale to yours, if I was doing the scale you are, I would fix the middle shelf with dominoes and use pins for the rest.
For fixing, mine is attached to a cupboard underneath, and L brackets to the wall at the top.
Shelf wise, I laminated 6mm veneered mdf, 12mm ply, 6mm veneered mdf, lipped the front with cherry , span is 740mm - no sag whatsoever.
Do you have a link to the pins you used? your span and shelf overall thickness/strength is not too dissimilar to mine so with no sag it sounds like those pins are giving you sufficent support.
Thanks re fixing bit too, sounds like much of the same as with the wardrobes. Had read a few people using battens affixed to wall first then bookcases screwed into these battens but would prefer avoiding any visible screws etc.
 
I agree a 4 rows of holes on 32mm centres does look flat pack but you can just put holes where the shelf is going to be and then add more holes later if needed.

I normally use sockets in the holes and the Banjo type supports, these tend to suit the style of work I do but it does depend on what look you are aiming for.

https://www.marchesironmongery.co.uk/shelf-stud-st-florentine-bronz.html
You're absolutely right Doug. Was having a brain fog thinking I'd have to make 100 pin holes up and down each side but yes, can simply do for the ones I want for now and provides future proofing. As per Fezman, think fixing a few shelves for stability then keeping a few on pins for flexibility sounds like the right compromise. Additionally, with less dominos to line up at the assembly stage it will make that substantially easier too. Thanks!
 
The full height IKEA ones do have the middle shelf fixed for structural integrity - it matches the top of the half height ones.

My thoughts, first rule of books is you never have enough space, the collection expands, and your needs change over time so I would make your display shelf a removeable insert to future-proof. Second rule of books, however organised you are with where you put things there is always one that won't fit 'the system' and ends up in an uncategorised pile of oddments. I call it my 'stuff and things' shelf.

You say that all your books are of similar size, but we don't go into a bookshop and orders "a 9 inch book please" so you end up with all sorts. You get more efficient use of space if the shelf heights are graded - my first bookshelf was a waterfall front design with a 13 inch bottom - for vinyl records - 11 inch gap for travel and art tomes and about 9 inch for some hardbacks. Later shelves have had a bunch of 'paperback height' shelving near the top so no space is wasted and bigger ones below. Its a visual thing too, the size gradation top to bottom looks good. You can still have left to right matching so its all of a piece.

Maybe step away from the design software for a bit, look at some real libraries (not the public metal shelf sort but old ones, there are loads of images online, and you will find that many, not all, have bigger shelves lower down. Google for library and click the images tab - might generate new thoughts.

Here's an interesting recent article, see how there is a big bottom shelf, and in the over door picture the upper shelves are tailored to needs - a bit smaller than the ones below.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeand...-my-library-brought-order-in-a-world-of-chaos

I would sit amongst my books for a while, drink in hand, and just think "what do I want this to be like 10 years from now". It might be as you have designed it but I would be tempted by some variation in heights and maybe a wider bottom section which gives you a small shelf like the Lucy Mangan one above.

Now for an off topic but relevant tale. During the pandemic lockdown a nearby town Library kept the cleaner on to work even though it was closed. The task was to take all the books off the shelves, clean well, put them back. When the other staff returned after many weeks they found that the cleaner - a neat and organosed person - had shelved everything by size and then by colour. Very neat, but if a customer comes in and asks for, say, a copy of On the Road you can' really ask if they know what colour it is. They re-closed for 2 weeks to put it all back to proper Dewey indexing. So it goes.
 
I don't see the point of having the logs in there, not only as stated above would you need to ensure they are very dry but you also run the risk of adding pests that may enjoy munching on your books and shelving, personally I'd leave the logs outside or by the fireplace.
 
First I would like to say what a good job you’ve done on the presentation front, it isn’t always so!
I didn’t notice what you are doing for the shelf edges, I presume it will be redwood to match, also the face frame having a 1mm overlap on each side, doesn’t seem quite right to me, it’s neither flush ( or are you going to plane it?) nor is it a pleasant rounded over feature.
Despite what the sag thing says, I think I would go for belt and braces as it’s a bookshelf. I would have a slightly deeper (hight) edge to the shelf. Flush on the top surface and sticking down 6-10 mm underneath.
Firewood, my thought is it is always messy stuff. But otherwise obviously it’s your house.
Ian
 
A few thoughts based on our experience and design

1. +1 for adjustable shelves, depending on whether you're a pushed to the back type or all evenly lined up on the shelf lip, spare holes can be hidden by books
2. Are you music listeners, if so and plan to have audio in the room pre-run all necessary cabling. Ours comes from a central location, out of the wall between side panels and then through holes
3. We added a ladder with a rail all around, just to give it more authentic, or classic feel
4. Do you have ornaments or such like, if so consider some glass doored sections with lights for display, unless the whole surface area is already allocated to books, it breaks up the expanse of shelving
 
The full height IKEA ones do have the middle shelf fixed for structural integrity - it matches the top of the half height ones.

My thoughts, first rule of books is you never have enough space, the collection expands, and your needs change over time so I would make your display shelf a removeable insert to future-proof. Second rule of books, however organised you are with where you put things there is always one that won't fit 'the system' and ends up in an uncategorised pile of oddments. I call it my 'stuff and things' shelf.

You say that all your books are of similar size, but we don't go into a bookshop and orders "a 9 inch book please" so you end up with all sorts. You get more efficient use of space if the shelf heights are graded - my first bookshelf was a waterfall front design with a 13 inch bottom - for vinyl records - 11 inch gap for travel and art tomes and about 9 inch for some hardbacks. Later shelves have had a bunch of 'paperback height' shelving near the top so no space is wasted and bigger ones below. Its a visual thing too, the size gradation top to bottom looks good. You can still have left to right matching so its all of a piece.

Maybe step away from the design software for a bit, look at some real libraries (not the public metal shelf sort but old ones, there are loads of images online, and you will find that many, not all, have bigger shelves lower down. Google for library and click the images tab - might generate new thoughts.

Here's an interesting recent article, see how there is a big bottom shelf, and in the over door picture the upper shelves are tailored to needs - a bit smaller than the ones below.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeand...-my-library-brought-order-in-a-world-of-chaos

I would sit amongst my books for a while, drink in hand, and just think "what do I want this to be like 10 years from now". It might be as you have designed it but I would be tempted by some variation in heights and maybe a wider bottom section which gives you a small shelf like the Lucy Mangan one above.

Now for an off topic but relevant tale. During the pandemic lockdown a nearby town Library kept the cleaner on to work even though it was closed. The task was to take all the books off the shelves, clean well, put them back. When the other staff returned after many weeks they found that the cleaner - a neat and organosed person - had shelved everything by size and then by colour. Very neat, but if a customer comes in and asks for, say, a copy of On the Road you can' really ask if they know what colour it is. They re-closed for 2 weeks to put it all back to proper Dewey indexing. So it goes.
Thanks, some solid points to consider. My Pinterest board has over 100 built in libraries and I must say most of the ones I've saved seem to have a universal height. The idea of several shelves on pins is growing on me and means if at a later date I start a collection of extra large books, I can simply remove a shelf or adjust the pins according (as you say largest at the bottom etc).

And that poor cleaner, must have been heart wrenching to see that hard work go to waste 😀
 
I don't see the point of having the logs in there, not only as stated above would you need to ensure they are very dry but you also run the risk of adding pests that may enjoy munching on your books and shelving, personally I'd leave the logs outside or by the fireplace.
Good point re pests. The reason I was toying with that idea is that particular bookcase is next to the fireplace (it's the single bookcase next to the black rectangles...aka fireplace in my diagram 😀). Was thinking just a section at the bottom for a dozen logs or so as would imagine the pest/humidity risk is not much larger than a simple basket of logs in the same room
 
First I would like to say what a good job you’ve done on the presentation front, it isn’t always so!
I didn’t notice what you are doing for the shelf edges, I presume it will be redwood to match, also the face frame having a 1mm overlap on each side, doesn’t seem quite right to me, it’s neither flush ( or are you going to plane it?) nor is it a pleasant rounded over feature.
Despite what the sag thing says, I think I would go for belt and braces as it’s a bookshelf. I would have a slightly deeper (hight) edge to the shelf. Flush on the top surface and sticking down 6-10 mm underneath.
Firewood, my thought is it is always messy stuff. But otherwise obviously it’s your house.
Ian
Sorry yes that's my fault as left it off the diagram but you're assumptions is correct, redwood shelf edges.

Re the overlap, as the redwood will be painted but the ply will not, so im just looking to make my life (as the decorator) slightly easier. For the built in I've previously made I've used a palm router and roundover bit but for this I was going to keep the edges flat and just lightly sand off some of the sharpness.

Re deeper edge to the shelf, Im afraid I can't quite picture your suggestion Ian
 
Do you have a link to the pins you used? your span and shelf overall thickness/strength is not too dissimilar to mine so with no sag it sounds like those pins are giving you sufficent support.
Thanks re fixing bit too, sounds like much of the same as with the wardrobes. Had read a few people using battens affixed to wall first then bookcases screwed into these battens but would prefer avoiding any visible screws etc.
Pins were these from Amazon - https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07FB869WR - wasn't sure if they would do, but they have been fine.
 
A few thoughts based on our experience and design

1. +1 for adjustable shelves, depending on whether you're a pushed to the back type or all evenly lined up on the shelf lip, spare holes can be hidden by books
2. Are you music listeners, if so and plan to have audio in the room pre-run all necessary cabling. Ours comes from a central location, out of the wall between side panels and then through holes
3. We added a ladder with a rail all around, just to give it more authentic, or classic feel
4. Do you have ornaments or such like, if so consider some glass doored sections with lights for display, unless the whole surface area is already allocated to books, it breaks up the expanse of shelving
Thank you Simon, good points!

1. Yup think I'm converted to the adjustable shelves. My thinking now though is best way to support them on the long 950mm shelf (as with the fixed shelves I was thinking domino through the rear coupled with face frame redwood will provide adequate support
2. Yes on the music front, although plan is for audio source/speakers to be in the same place so will require a socket to come up to the midpoint in the shelves and possibly have a central higher shelf height to accommodate a music system and larger books. In my first house I wired it for in ceiling speakers in most rooms feeding multiple sonos hubs in a basement rack. Was absolutely fantastic but then I realised my hearing wasn't good enough to make it financially appropriate to do it in the house 😂
3. Funny you mention this as I've spent the past day researching this element. At this stage I've decided it's something I'll look at once built as can always customise the ladder length to suit but my early research has shown it's a very expensive addition! £3-6k most seem to be coming in at so currently thinking about making my own oak ladder and importing the rail hardware from china directly as back of envelope that came in at £400. However will see how I feel once complete as might feel like treating myself to an off the shelf solution. Do you mind if I ask how did you source your ladder/hardware etc?
4. Ornaments in the next room 😀 basically we have two 4mx4m (3m ceiling height) rooms next to each other that the previous owners knocked through a wall to open up. I've rebuilt the wall, added sliding doors between them and one room is to be the library and the other the lounge where the next project will be cabinets for the rubbish we collect as we go through life
 
Have a look at my efforts (post13) in woodworker432's thread on shelving. They show that varying or adjustable shelves can make interesting features in themselves rather than just a method of storing books. You may want to store your library in subject or author categories which may well involve multiple sizes of book, in which case a degree of flexibility will be advantageous.
I would go for shorter shelf spans; not only structurally better but provides greater flexibility of use.
Brian
 
Last edited:
Good point re pests. The reason I was toying with that idea is that particular bookcase is next to the fireplace (it's the single bookcase next to the black rectangles...aka fireplace in my diagram 😀). Was thinking just a section at the bottom for a dozen logs or so as would imagine the pest/humidity risk is not much larger than a simple basket of logs in the same room
Ahhhh now it makes sense 😁😁😁😁
 
Back
Top