Need to make some very long bookshelves - advice needed!If

29 Aug 2006
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United Kingdom
Hi all,

I need to make some long book shelves. At one end I can support the with 2x1 on the wall, but the other end will be open. The wall is an internal brick wall.

I was going to make them 2440mm long, as that seems to be the longest continuous length piece of either MDF or ply I can find. One shelve will be about 21cm deep, the other about 14cm deep.

If I can avoid it, ideally I would only have an L bracket of some sort at the open end.

My local hardware and timber store has 12mm or 18mm, and MDF at 12, 15 & 18mm. Ply is approximately 80%more than MDF.

My questions:

* Should I use ply or MDF, and which thickness?

* Will it be strong enough (and not saggy) if I just run 2x1 along the back wall, and screw the shelf into every 60cm or so?

* If not, will using a strip of 2x1 along the front, depth wise add strength, or just stop it sagging? Will I need extra brackets or support in the middle?

Thanks for any advice. These shelves are for books, and will be in the lounge. I'm trying to avoid them looking like garage shelves!
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you will have to support 3 times along that length [0-800-1600-2440mm]

although the brakets can be on top off the bottom shelve or under the top shelve with the bottom and top shelve tied together

if i was making a 2 tiered unit for books the top shelve would be 9x1"! planed [comes out at 220mm]
bottom would be 6x1"par[145x21]
the brackets i would make from to match from 7x1" i would make them to resemble a letter"K" but in curved flowing form the bottom would be 5" the top woud be full width at 169mm
the middle would be 60mm with a single screw hole 10mm countersunk to accept a no 10x4" screw into a brown plug hole drilled by a 7mm masonery bit

the inner end off the shelves would be square the outer end would be curved there would be 5 brackets evenly spaced 125mm 665 1220 1765 2315

i would also attach 3 half pear shaped brackets to the top 4 inches farther in at 225mm 1220mm and2215mm

i have made several shelves this way and provided they are fixed onto solid walls they are very strong
torsion box

You could support the end with a floor to ceiling support of some kind. Or build another shelf and fix it vertically tying all the ends together?
That Torsion box is a fancy version of what I was talking about! I don't have the tools to make one as neat as that (no router, for a start).

Something I was thinking of was making some dividers for the bottom shelf that would also support the top shelf, and then using brackets to support the bottom.

Big-All - thanks for the really good advice. I think I follow what you're saying.

The K brackets basically support the top shelf, and the bottom shelf "hangs" off it?

Not sure about the half-pear bracket. I don't understand what that is, or do you just mean that you'd make some extra brackets that are just the top half of the "K"?
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yes the bottom shelve hangs off just angle the front screw back a bit to stop it splitting the bracket

the peardrops go on top they are not essential but give extra support and give the books somthing to lean against

you can put a chamfer on the strait bits with a plane and on the curves with a bit off sandpaper

Is it poosible to make torsion boxes using aluminium studs (like for building stud partitions) and plasterboard. Then maybe finishing it all with jointing cement and a good sanding?

This could give a really smooth finish, its relatively light and quick to put up but not sure how much weight it could take ... if any!

use vertical sections of mdf same width (or slightly less) as shelves as dividers and to link top and bottom shelves together making them much much stronger. so it looks a like a ladder (on it's side) from the front.
to join them you can screw into 18mm MDF "end grain" if you carefully pilot drill right in the centre of the board with a bit just smaller than the external screw size. clearance hole and countersink in the shelf, use a good sharp screw about 40mm and glue it as well. fill, sand and paint. you can then use tiny angle brackets to fix it to the wall.

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