Library project

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flashcurd

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Hi all,

Not sure if this is the right sub-forum so please move it if not. Last year I moved into a new house and have earmarked the spare downstairs room to be converted into a library so I thought I'd have a go and try and see if I can do it myself. I've never really done anything like this before so I have a lot of questions!

The general room looks like this wireframe:
Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 09.11.32.png


And what I'm aiming for is, very roughly, something that looks like this (only two walls shown, layout only):
Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 09.13.19.png


So far the room has been completely stripped, skirting and coving removed, replasterd and a base coat of paint applied.

I've purchased some planed redwood that I've let acclimatise and will be attempting to construct the plinths the bookcases will stand on in the next week or two. Hopefully it'll look something like this:
Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 09.12.07.png


What would be the best option for asking some questions about the next part of the build (the actual bookcase build)? Just put them in here? Put each specific question in the "General woodworking" sub-forum and linking to this thread for context?

Thanks!
 
keep the information in one thread - easier...
looks good - we built a library when we moved in during the first lockdown in 2020 - well a chippy did!
annoyingly he didn't listen to me regarding shelf span / material / book weight - be cautious about what you use for the span - the mdf on ours is now bowing and causing issues meaning that 3 years on I am going to have to do some remedial work - books are very heavy!

one of the best things we did was to have facings in front of the uprights - ran wires to them and have lights around the room for soft lighting - the facings are routed and make the library look far more elegant (routed to match the original Arts and Crafts fireplace) - very easy addition...
2023-11-08 09.37.55.jpg
 
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This was basically going to be my next set of questions: how best, and what material to use, to build the actual bookcases.

None of the bookcase shelves will have a span of more than 750mm and I'm planning on adding a strengthening strip to the front edge of all shelves of 36mm in height (I'll illustrate why shortly with a picture of how I'm planning on constructing the actual bookcases).

The local lumberyard has (what they is) birch-throughout plywood in stock (BB/BB grade). It's expensive but I think it's probably the better option than using MDF for this? I'd rather spend a bit more on materials now and have it last rather than save some money and have to do remedial work in the future due to bowing/sagging.

If anyone has any advice on what to construct the bookcases out of (plywood, mdf, something else) then I'd appreciate it.
 
The actual bookcases themselves I think will look like this:

Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 10.10.42.png


I'm planning on making them out of 18mm thick material (exactly what, see question above, advice appreciated!), which means there'll be a 36 mm join where the bookcases meet each other side-by-side. This is why I think I'll use a 36mm strengthening strip on the front of each shelf, so that the thickness is uniform between each bookcase and all the shelves.

I'm planning on putting a face frame of the same 36mm thickness infront of all of the bookcases when installed to hide all the joins between them.
 
As to how to construct the bookcases themselves:

I'm not massively experienced and this is a giant project so I'm thinking it'd be best if I break it down into manageable chunks that's most tolerant to small mistakes. I'm planning on constructing each bookcase in half vertically and stacking them, like mini cabinet carcasses:
Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 10.20.41.png


One I've stacked them vertically it'll look like this:
Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 10.31.34.png


The horizontal join acts as a fixed horizontal shelf midway up that's 36mm thick (same as all the other shelves will be with the strengethening strip attached).

The main reason to build them like is mainly so I don't have to make a super accurate cut over 2m in length. I can make smaller, individual sub-pieces, at a maximum of about 1.2m in length (I have a 1.5m rail) and then stack and assemble to get the exact sizes I want.

The individual carcasses will be constructed like this (front, back):
Screenshot 2023-11-08 at 10.29.00.png


The uprights will have double-rebated grooves cut into them so that I can install these bookcase strips: 7470 Flat Bookcase Strip - Mild Steel - Bright Zinc 1829 x 19 x 2mm

In addition, I'm planning on putting a back-board on each sub-bookcase that's resessed into a groove. I'm not sure what thickness this should be really, 4mm? 6mm?

On the back of each sub-bookcase I'm planning on adding some stretchers on the back at the top and bottom so that I can use these to help square it and strengthen it.
 
I think that's everything I've thought about, designed out so far. Any help, tips, advice, "don't do that", "that's a stupid idea", or anything else with above is greatly appreciated!

Thanks
 
only thing I would add is - check the straightness or otherwise of your walls :) you may need to think about how you will pack or batten the walls to fix the units... walls are rarely straight - and check a number of times, bottom / middle / top as that also changes!
 
Books are super heavy so when doing shelves for stuff like this I like to use solid wood if possible, or 18mm plywood for the body of the shelf or veneerd MDF if I have to match the real wood then I apply a lipping to the front like this. Normally twice the thickness of the shelf.

This is an offcut thats in my woodburning pile and happens to be Oak so more an aesthetic thing rather than strength in this particular case, but you can see the idea. It does not look like much but makes a lot of difference to the strength of the shelf. you can use dowells or domino or just glue.
20231108_105305.jpg20231108_105315.jpg

For the bookcase strip there is a router bit that does the full cut in one pass, this is worth getting as doing them all twice for the clearance groove gets old fast.
Not sure if its worth doing full backs on them, will be fixed to the wall to keep everything square and you wont really see it because it will be full of books, just paint the wall nicely before fitting.

Ollie
 
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@akirk : Thanks for the tip. The exact heights and widths I need to cut are still to be determined, the above pics are just kind-of right. Once the plinths are installed then I'll do as you suggest and leave appropriate spacing round the top/side so I can fix them to the side walls with space plugs or just some offcuts of the right thickness.

@Ollie78 Thanks for the tip. I'm thinking of doing this, the book shelves themselves will be 18mm thick but I'll add a 36mm strip on the front as you have to strengthen them. This 36mm lip will match the 36mm between each bookcase (side-by-side and join-between).
 
I have some damaged, construction grade plywood seconds I bought cheap that I intend to use to make a prototype this weekend to see how the plans come together and whether or not it'll work.
 
You have a few crucial design decisions to make before starting. Are they going to be painted ? If so you would save £100's by using blockboard instead of Baltic Ply. If you prefer a contemporary Ply look then that's fine but use an acrylic finish to preserve the pale look.
At a span of 750 mm you would have to double up any sheetboard and apply a face to prevent sagging. I have also posted before about using cheap flush doors as shelves. - just insert a glued batten between the cut veneers of a flush door and you have nice thick shelves that don't need reinforcing. Tonka strips are a nice touch but in principle I think few people alter the depth of shelves one installed. I make mine as 16" x 16" cubes and they take nearly all my coffee table books. The verticals stop the books from falling over.
How will you attach the shelves to the verticals.? I've simply used pocket hole screws with plastic covers to date although the new Clamex S 20 connectors look promising for those of us without a Lamello Zeta. :rolleyes:
 
Yes, they are all going to be painted. I'd not heard of blockboard before, I'll look into it, it might be just what I need to keep the costs down a bit.

Doubling up the sheetboard is not a problem, the bottom horizontal spans will be on the plinth (so already supported), the middle spans will be doubled up and face-framed according to the plan already, it's just the top horizontal that I can double up to prevent sagging. I'll include that in my plan.

I primarily want the bookcase strips for two reasons: 1) they allow very small vertical adjustment so I can accomodate all book sizes and squeeze in as many shelves as possible over time, 2) I quite like the look of them, more than just holes drilled in the wood for shelf pins.

"How will you attach the shelves to the verticals.?" I'm not quite sure what you mean here. If it's "how will I attach the horzontal top and bottoms to the verticals" then I'm planning on just drilling and screwing, maybe pocket holes if that would be better. Basically, I'm going to try and construct them a little like this, except not as deep.

Thanks for the advice.
 
"How will you attach the shelves to the verticals.?" I'm not quite sure what you mean here. If it's "how will I attach the horzontal top and bottoms to the verticals" then I'm planning on just drilling and screwing, maybe pocket holes if that would be better. Basically, I'm going to try and construct them a little like this, except not as deep.

Thanks for the advice.
I'm probably showing my age using blockboard as it seems to have completely fallen out of favour. It's made from strips of solid wood with a layer of veneer on each side. It's the most rigid of all the sheet goods and would prevent any bowing of the sides of the cabinets.
I see you intend to screw the horizontal components from the bottom and top which will keep the screws hidden. That's perfectly fine although the conventional way is to run the sides to the floor and use some hidden fixing. Those joints have to resist a lot of racking and it's worth investing in some confirmat screws ( they need a special drill bit ) for that.
A 6 mm back will add great rigidity but tongue and groove planks of any material would look better. :rolleyes:
 
Books are super heavy so when doing shelves for stuff like this I like to use solid wood if possible, or 18mm plywood for the body of the shelf or veneerd MDF if I have to match the real wood then I apply a lipping to the front like this. Normally twice the thickness of the shelf.
Good points about the weight of books because I suspect many people just don't appreciate how heavy books are and it's easy to 'underbuild' through excessive shelf length, lack of thickness (or not incorporating returns to effectively increase thickness) too few intermediate supports, or selecting relatively weak materials such as MDF or chipboard as opposed to solid wood. The error can be a combination of factors such as those I've mentioned.

A useful rule of thumb for standard books, i.e., assorted hardbacks and paperbacks, is to allow for 11 kg of weight per 300 mm shelf length (~25 lb per 12" length). So, for example, a 900 mm long shelf fully loaded with standard books is likely to be carrying roughly 33 kg. Naturally, a shelf load of large format books (taller, wider and possibly thicker), apply greater stress to a shelf than standard sized books.

If anyone ever wants to work out what stress to allow for in this sort of situation, and others, a bit of boning up on such things as beam theory and deformation in pure bending is always a good idea, plus having some knowledge of the strength characteristics of various wood species and board materials, ha, ha. Given time, of course, most wooden shelves, even unloaded ones carrying no more than their own weight, develop a bit of sag through time dependent creep. Slainte.
 
The actual bookcases themselves I think will look like this:

View attachment 169445

I'm planning on making them out of 18mm thick material (exactly what, see question above, advice appreciated!), which means there'll be a 36 mm join where the bookcases meet each other side-by-side. This is why I think I'll use a 36mm strengthening strip on the front of each shelf, so that the thickness is uniform between each bookcase and all the shelves.

I'm planning on putting a face frame of the same 36mm thickness infront of all of the bookcases when installed to hide all the joins between them.
This would be a great project, the most cost effective sheeting and framing material to make the bulk of it then rip some nice hardwood to act as a facing

Could have some nice lighting solutions too

Gonna be a good project
 
I'm probably showing my age using blockboard as it seems to have completely fallen out of favour. It's made from strips of solid wood with a layer of veneer on each side. It's the most rigid of all the sheet goods and would prevent any bowing of the sides of the cabinets.
No it's not just you, it does seem to have gone the way of the dodo. Wouldn't be a bad choice, on first reading this my first thoughts were you really want some solid wood in there since most manufactured wood will inevitably sag with time. From stock blockboard can be depended on to be flat at least to start with.

Which brings me to the last time it came up for me personally. My Dad wanted a sheet as a construction plane for a car chassis perhaps ten years ago - a Lotus 7 style thing. Went to a specialist timber merchant, albeit one with more of a construction focus, it was a special order item as they simply didn't carry it in stock.
 
Most board suppliers stopped supplying blockboard many years ago, You are now offered chipboard, MDF or ply. I used to use it for kitchen and wardrobe carcases as it was a lot more pleasant and lightweight to work with, That was until I was supplied with some oak veneered, keruing blockboard . which was heavy, smelt bad and oozed sap. The real Rolls-Royce of blockboard, was laminboard, which was what G-plan used in their furniture.
To keep costs in check, it might be worth mixing ply and MDF - with the MDF used for the upright. If you have the space to work, there is no real need to fabricate the units as two separate boxes fastened on top of each other. as long as you have a fixed middle shelf, which will help keep the sides parallel.
 
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Solid maple sawn boards 150 x 32 mm sound like they may be coming in at about £40 per 9 foot length.
Timber like that would make far stiffer shelves than mdf. You might get away with 3 foor spans.
If you can process it, is it worth stumping up the ££ ?
 

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