I'd like to build a bookcase using pine (or meranti) planks of dimension 22mm/220mm/3m that my local hardware store stocks. They offer the service of cutting to length, but I have no power tools (well, maybe a drill and countersink bit), so will have to have it all cut beforehand.

What should I consider when designing it, in particular:

  • joint type
  • stiffening the shelves in the middle
  • allowing for unusual dimensions such as wide and low
  • I'd prefer something with interesting look

A design I can look at and alter would be the ideal solution

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    Boards + something to act as supports...bricks...cement blocks...chunks of logs... – DA01 Nov 29 '12 at 23:06
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    Look at some kits that are pre-designed and go together with cam screws and only tool needed is a screwdriver. Ikea? – shirlock homes Nov 30 '12 at 10:36
  • I agree with shirlock. You are unlikely to be able to buy raw materials for less than it costs for a kit. I only build from scratch one I have exhausted all kit possibilities - and I already have tools and fasteners, etc. – alx9r Dec 9 '12 at 23:03
  • For insight into wall-mounted vs free-standing shelving, you might want to read my answer here. Remember that books are very dense (they hardly float in water) - they are the densest item I ever store in my home. Accordingly, you might want to work out how much weight you'll actually be storing and make sure your proposed shelving will actually support it. – alx9r Dec 9 '12 at 23:08

The solution when I was in college was to use cinder blocks as the uprights. No tools at all required. This is a long time ago granted, but I believe gravity has not changed much. Cheap and common, cinder blocks are about 8 inches square by 16 long. Two stacked for each end of a shelf makes room for common book sizes. We would call 22 mm 3/4inch here and I would comfortably make a four foot shelf for books without worrying about bracing provided it is solid wood, which it sounds like it is. The advantage of the cinder block approach is ready availability and quick installation. It is not pretty, though, you would have to call it utilitarian, which went well with the wire spool table and orange crate record storage. This is, or was, a common approach to furnishing your first apartment in the States. They do make cinder blocks in 8 inch cubes also if your shelves are narrower.

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  • That brings back memories, my parents used the decorative square blocks that are used for wall openings. They have a kind of floral pattern to the center structure and so were a little more decorative than the usual 8"x16" wall blocks. – Fiasco Labs Nov 30 '12 at 15:22
  • Memories? I still possess similar blocks as your parents (but just open, no floral bit) that supported my audio equipment until just 2 years ago! Lasted much longer than you would expect flat pack furniture to last. – bcworkz Nov 30 '12 at 22:02
  • I remember the square blocks, too. They were about 4 inches thick and would have made for unstable shelving here in earthquake country. Hence the use of wider blocks. Pufferfish might be able to use them, though. They would take up less of the shelf. – Tim Quinn Dec 1 '12 at 14:22
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    In earthquake country, I'd expect a little application of Liquid Nails so it was more or less permanently connected together. Also doesn't survive an enthusiastic German Shepherd crashing into it! That's another story... – Fiasco Labs Dec 1 '12 at 17:35
  • @bcworkz - Choose your lumber correctly and they make fairly impervious plant shelves as well. Try doing that with the chipboard or MDF you find in a flat pack! – Fiasco Labs Dec 2 '12 at 0:36

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