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ephillipsme 02-24-2013 06:55 AM

Bookcase shelf spacing
I am starting to build a wall of built-in book shelves in our office. I am having a little debate with my wife ( the designer) about shelves spacing. We are planning of having fixed shelves and not adjustable, so this is were the debate starts, we will have 4 bookcases across 12 foot wall, so with 4 units, do we keep all the shelves the same, or vary in each unit. And if how do we space these. I am leaning to the same but want to ensure there is the proper height in the shelves to allow for books, nick nack or other design and decoration after the build is complete, The other side is trying to design nd then have us build to meet this design. Thoughts? the real question i am asking is how to size the height of the shelves if I am matching across all the units to allow for varies items to be displayed after.

joecaption 02-24-2013 07:01 AM

Why fixed shelves?
I would think that would limit the flexablity of your present and anyones future needs for this shelving.
Simple holes spaced 1" apart and use shelve clips.

oh'mike 02-24-2013 07:20 AM

Very unusual to have fixed shelves---I suggest you start measuring books, statuary and such---do a mock up on the wall using blue tape---

those 3 feet long shelves will need to be rather thick to span that opening--so take that into consideration.

joecaption 02-24-2013 07:32 AM

Thick or face framed to stop the sagging.

hand drive 02-24-2013 10:17 AM

it helps to know what is to be displayed before building the shelves. any fixed shelves I build I ask what the homeowner plans to put where and build around that. usually a 12 or 13" spacing with the lower space larger and the top space larger sometimes...

Dave88LX 03-23-2013 08:45 PM

Come back. I want to hear what you did. And see it.

My wife wants one of these too. Said she wants fixed shelves because the holes look tacky and temporary.

jagans 03-23-2013 08:52 PM

Aesthetically and functionally, it makes sense to have larger books near the bottom and smaller toward the top, as larger are usually heavier. Space for a ring binder on the bottom and then smaller as you go up makes sense to me.

GBrackins 03-24-2013 08:47 AM


Originally Posted by Dave88LX (Post 1144250)
Said she wants fixed shelves because the holes look tacky and temporary.

until she purchases a book that is just a 1/4" taller than any of the shelves. I have a beautiful hand made bookcase along a wall in my office that had fixed shelves, first thing I did after we purchased the place was to change it over to adjustable shelving because I had books that would not fit on the shelves.

Now if you are using it as a piece of "art" you can stack books laid flat on the shelves to create a unique look.

After all beauty is in the eye of the beholder ...... Good luck! :thumbsup:

GBrackins 03-24-2013 08:48 AM

double post for some reason

carpdad 03-26-2013 07:54 AM

Unless you must have all equally spaced shelves, which is a valid design in itself, some varied spacing would hold many more books for the given space. 13 is good for most larger picture books. 9-10 for the rest. But if you want to put decorations in the shelves, it makes sense to make the shelves adjustable. There is a shelf hardware that you can recess into the panel, and even homedepot brands work well. It is U channel with slots that takes spring clips.
I made 48"x12" wide shelves, sandwiching 3/4" ply together with pine edging in the back and front. My wife crams the books into each shelf bay, and some shelves are bending but holding well without a middle support.

Duckweather 03-26-2013 01:24 PM

Are the shelves dadoed into the sides or are you using cleats? I have a hundred or so year old oak bookcase with a unique shelf system. Front and rear corners have a 1/2" x 1" strip top to bottom that has notches that look similar to a handsaws teeth. Horizontal cut about 1/2" deep on the bottom, about a 30 degree angle diagonal cut from back of horizontal cut. One in each corner notches facing toward each other. On the front there is a stop strip over the notched one that covers about 1/8" of the back of each notch. Each shelf support is cut with the same angle a snug fit inserted into the front notches first allowing them to be slipped in behind the stop strip on the front and into the corresponding back one. they are behind the front face frame and can't be seen. the shelves are 3/4" oak almost 5' long and hold an enormous weight of books. In the 30+ years I have owned it I flipped the shelve over when I got it so crown was up. They have not sagged yet. Since they are the same material they are seldom noticed except for a few that admired the design.

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