Sunday, March 30, 2008

Back to the Drawing Board

After modding one Lack bookshelf I don't think they'll work. After all my cuts, and re-stiffening the shelf, it still wasn't holding up and it takes a lot of time to mod each shelf. Looks like the shelf design are leaning toward standard dado cut built-ins. I'm still on the hunt for decent designs and construction details... Anybody know of other decent options that simulate a floating look but could take the weight of books?


misssphinx said...

Hi Corey.

I don't have any idea, but I certainly wish I did.

I'm also in Baltimore, also renovating a rowhouse. And also hoping for built in bookshelves. There's a spot in the house where'd they look awesome. No idea where to start on this venture, though.

I'll be reading with interest and wishing you luck!

Summer said...

How about your own version?

I don't know how strong they are, but it says they "could" hold a set of encyclopedias.

Corey said...


Not sure why I don't see more built-ins in rowhomes here. They are perfect for the long spaces.

Also glad that you can learn from my stumbling. I ordered two books on built-ins from Amazon, so hopefully they get here soon so I can get to work on building. The resources I've found on the web don't cover modern looking shelving (that hold books) option much, and they aren't too detailed. Hopefully the books are better.


Great link! That is a nice cheap way to do shelves, but not sure I'd want to fill it with books. Definitely doesn't look strong enough for that... And who has encyclopedias anymore? :) Will definitely think about using this idea in the dining room area...

Summer said...

MDF is usually stronger than plywood, right? Maybe you could build MDF boxes that could go on brackets instead of the hollow core doors? I've seen it done on tons of home improvement shows... but yeah, now that I think about it they tend to just put a few things on the shelves, not a whole library.

If you did shelf tracks that you painted to match the wall maybe it would look more invisible?

Corey said...

The problem with floating shelves isn't a matter how stiff the wood is, you are putting all that weight on the brads attaching the shelf to the cleat, or the screws into the wall. While the shelf may not snap, it can easily tip forward a bit or sag in the middle, which would look awkward.

Also, for a comparison of wood strengths This Old House has a decent article on built-ins. Here is an excerpt:

"The amount of weight a 3-foot 1x12 shelf can hold without sagging more than 1/4 inch:
1. Oak: 313 lb. Pine: 200 lb.
2. Plywood: 129 lb. MDF: 87 lb."

So plywood is about 50% stronger than MDF. This is because MDF is just wood particle and glue, while plywood is a larger fiber wood that distributes stress better. Since pine and oak are continuous (not fiber) they are even stronger. For wood, it's a toss up between MDF and plywood for me. If I support the shelves in the center, I think I can go MDF, but for a longer unsupported shelf I'll probably use plywood.

momnipotent said...

Too bad that didn't work. Here are several URLs to various ideas.
This one is similar to the Readers Digest article, but says they’re very strong

Hungarian shelves (google this, lots of stuff out there)

Here’s a fun site about IKEA products

Check out the video at this page when you need a break:

Corey said...

Great ideas momnipotent! I have books on built-ins coming, so I'll be comparing all the ideas and hopefully be building this weekend.

Also, I snagged a table saw off of craigslist to help in the build.

Mike said...

Hey Corey, I couldn't find an e-mail link, but I thought I'd just let you know, I'm just up the street in Greektown and in the same boat-

Just finished the kitchen, moving on to the living room in a few weeks.

Great progress! Good luck!

momnipotent said...

Whoa...Mike's pictures are great. Corey, maybe your house isn't so bad after all! Do all rowhouses have a throne in the basement? Mike had a much larger basement skylight. Love all your kitchen choices, Mike, can't wait to see what's next.

Mike said...

thanks for your comments, momnipotent! Though, I have to give credit to my girlfriend on the design, as she is an interior designer and was instrumental in that department (and many others, e.g., keeping my sanity during this project)

Corey said...

Mike - the kitchen looks great. I look forward to seeing more pics! Why not start a blog to follow the renovation? It's an easy way to have friends and family to keep up with the work.