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  • Trying to build a bookshelf

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm trying to build my own bookcase that looks like this but with much better wood.
    http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60071358

    Does anyone know a good way to attach the vertical pieces? Or is there a book or website out there where they walk you through building something like this?

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

    Well, you could dado all the vertical pieces, and then just cut the shelves to slide in the grooves.

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    • #3
      Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

      Thought about that but it would weaken the vertical boards since I would have to do it on both sides. If I used a 1/2" board, it doesn't leave me with much wood between each side..

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      • #4
        Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

        I agree with the shallow blind dados but I think the shelf would be stronger if the dados were done in the horizontals and cut the verticals to fit. I would cut the dados as shallow as possible 1/8" would do

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        • #5
          Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

          Originally posted by wbrooks View Post
          i agree with the shallow blind dados but i think the shelf would be stronger if the dados were done in the horizontals and cut the verticals to fit. I would cut the dados as shallow as possible 1/8" would do
          +1
          Last edited by BadgerDave; 08-21-2009, 07:04 PM. Reason: Two character reply and I had to correct a typo!!
          ================================================== ====
          All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

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          • #6
            Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

            Thanks folks.. I'll give that a try with some test boards.. The books can be heavy, espically some of my hardcover ones so I really want this stable..

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            • #7
              Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

              Think about how a building is constructed. The weight bearing elements go to the ground. This is the way it would be if you cut the verticals with shallow dados. The full shelf thickness would transfer through the vertical to the shelf below, and so on. If you cut your dados in the shelf, then you have weakened the shelf to whatever thickness your dado is. If that is the case, you don't need dados, unless it is just to line everything up. I anticipated that you would be using 3/4 for all of this anyway.

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              • #8
                Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

                Would some sort of cros half joint work? I'm new to this so forgive me if i'm using the wrong name..

                I guess the best way to describe it is when you cut two sheets of paper half way through and then you slide the two cuts over each other... darn.. wish i could describe it better..

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                • #9
                  Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

                  I would suggest building the unit out of 3/4 instead of 1/2". When you load up the shelf, the 1/2" may flex. If you don't want to do dadoes, you can use biscuits on the face of the horizontal shelves.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

                    Originally posted by 3rdtime View Post
                    Think about how a building is constructed. The weight bearing elements go to the ground. This is the way it would be if you cut the verticals with shallow dados. The full shelf thickness would transfer through the vertical to the shelf below, and so on. If you cut your dados in the shelf, then you have weakened the shelf to whatever thickness your dado is. If that is the case, you don't need dados, unless it is just to line everything up. I anticipated that you would be using 3/4 for all of this anyway.
                    I agree.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

                      Originally posted by strum View Post
                      Would some sort of cros half joint work? I'm new to this so forgive me if i'm using the wrong name..

                      I guess the best way to describe it is when you cut two sheets of paper half way through and then you slide the two cuts over each other... darn.. wish i could describe it better..
                      I know exactly what you are trying to describe. That is a heck of a lot more work than a standard dado.

                      Brownie had a good idea with the biscuits. If you were to do that, I would then use full length shelves, and biscuit the vertical pieces. The end pieces could be put on last using biscuits in the ends of the shelves going into the end uprights. Problem with using biscuits in something with this many parts is that glue ups get out of hand unless you build it in increments (a few levels at a time).

                      Whatever way you decide to go, I would definitely use 3/4 stock.
                      Last edited by 3rdtime; 08-21-2009, 11:06 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

                        This is an Ikea shelf and as such it is designed to be put there and not to be moved. A lot of the rigidity in their furniture comes not from the strength of individual connections but from the combination of all of them, including the backing.

                        I have to admit I have a couple Ikea shelves I bought a few years ago. These aren't exactly the same models but I didn't find a lot of joinery selection in their products. They often use dowels, sometimes only plastic ones, so the things are not even glued together. Ikea manufacturers also use mechanical joinery extensively - hardware such as shown here. They won't refrain from using clearly visible mechanical connections such as used for the shelf in the photo below. Nope, that's not an "after market" solution. That's Ikea design.

                        Respectfully, my advice would be a little different than those given others. I would use dowels (2 or 3) to keep the tops and bottoms of the vertical pieces attached to the of the top and bottom horizontal pieces. Those piece won't go anywhere if attached in this, or any other way.

                        In fact, if that was done by Ikea I would not be surprised if they used screws going from the bottom up, and from the top down into the vertical pieces. Unless you are trying to build a heirloom piece of furniture I see nothing wrong with that. Nobody will see those mechanical connections anyway

                        I would consider dados for top, bottom and one of the in between horizontal pieces (shelves) for strength but that's a lot of saw dust so I wouldn't loose sleep if I used 5/16" dowels (3 or 4) for those too. If you used some of the hardware shown under the link above then you would get the ability to disassemble the shelf if needed.

                        If you need the flexibility to adjust the shelf height of individual shelves then regular shelf hangers/bolts(?) would do. If the self are to be stationary then again, using dowels only would be more than sufficient.

                        The backing (plywood, 3/16" MDF etc) would go a long way in keeping the structure very solid.
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by darius; 08-22-2009, 07:50 AM.
                        In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

                          I agree with Darius. If you add a back, it will be much much stronger. Without the back, it can just fold in on itself, with the back it will all be stuck together. I also like the idea of dowels too.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

                            I've never made anything using dowels.. alwasy been worried that I would never get the holes alligned right

                            Is there a good tool that helps with that?

                            edit:
                            By the way, the plan is to make this much bigger then what they sell. I want this for an entire wall section of 9'x7' so I will be using 3/4 stock.. Still deciding if i will paint it to match the wall or get a good wood finish..
                            Last edited by strum; 08-22-2009, 10:46 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Trying to build a bookshelf

                              I don't think I would use that particular design, but would opt to go with several vertical bookcase units located side-by-side. The look would basically be the same, but would afford you the strength in design and much easier assembly.

                              Using a full vertical piece on each side, you only need to "fasten" at the top, bottom, and middle shelves. Also, you don't need a full back, although that might be more aesthetic. In the many shelf units that I've built, I use metal inserts and shelf pins to hold most of the shelves in place with only the base, middle shelf, and top screwed to sides, and then at the same locations, I use a 1 x 4 across the back and middle. That with the addition of the base is quite substantial and the bookcase is more than sturdy enough to be absolutely crammed with books.

                              Bottom line is assembly is much easier, no rabbet cuts are required, and assembly (or later take-down) is much easier. At the time I built my first shelf units, all I used was a circular saw, sander, and a hand-held drill with a drill guide. I'm in the process of moving, so I have an empty book shelf which I'll take a picture of later this afternoon and post here. I also have a Sketchup illustration if you're interested.

                              I hope this helps,

                              CWS

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