Author Topic: Large Library Shelves/Cabinets  (Read 2405 times)

Dan B

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Large Library Shelves/Cabinets
« on: November 24, 2010, 02:25:47 PM »
Greetings all:

I'm new to SAPFM so please forgive me if I'm asking something that has been answered hundreds of times or doesn't belong here.  I need to build a couple of large library wall units (bookcases and cabinets) each about 8 ft long and ceiling height.  Can someone point me to some materials (articles, drawings, photos, etc.) that would be helpful in building units true to late 18th/early 19th century design and construction.  I scanned Gotshall's books and the Chippendale Gentlemen's Directory and found nothing other than some ideas for molding, trim, carvings, etc.  Any ideas on building large units would be appreciated. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Dan B

pearle

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Re: Large Library Shelves/Cabinets
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2010, 03:25:18 PM »
There is an article in the Winter 2000 issue of Popular Woodworking magazine that discuses building wall book units and shows one of classic design. If you can't locate a copy of the magazine, I may be able to scan the article and e-mail it to you if you are interested.

Preston Earle
PEarle@Triad.rr..com
www.SawdustForBrains.blogspot.com

Woodmolds

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Re: Large Library Shelves/Cabinets
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2010, 03:36:06 PM »
I think this book is a good resource for what you're talking about.

Design and Built a Great 18th Century Room


Tony Joyce
"Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly ever acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.? Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

Johnny D

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Re: Large Library Shelves/Cabinets
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2010, 04:53:19 PM »
I've found built-in wall shelving or libraries to be rare in period houses, thus you don't see much of it in books.  Even Jefferson had some fairly cheap modular bookcases, no built-in library. 

A few general points on such things:  All construction would be of solid wood originally.  All shelves should be solid wood in a good modern effort.   Try to make the shelves an inch thick and to limit their length to less than about 3 feet.  The edges are greatly improved by a restrained moulding treatment.   Depending on how period it needs to be you'll have to answer whether the carcases will be made of plywood or solid wood, and price accordingly.

 A base cabinet is appropriate, and if used should have flush doors.  It also looks nice if the base cabinet is 2-3 inches deeper than the bookcase.  The use of face mounted "H" or "H/L" type forged hinges gives a swell period look.  The use of beads for lining is very nice, but small beads are better than large ones.  Beads can be applied in painted work.  This is quicker than jack mitering beaded rails/stiles.  Internal construction, and indeed all construction should account for the great weight of books.  Build the cases an inch or so shy of the ceiling, and trim them off with a crown mould, the bolder (more bellied) the better.  This makes installation simple.  Old time adjustable shelving was accomplished by means of notched cleats, running vertically.  I can't describe it well, but it looks pretty clunky, and would be offensive in good work.  Holes and pegs don't really look period.  Non adjustable shelves probably best.

JD

klkirkman

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Re: Large Library Shelves/Cabinets
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2010, 11:13:42 AM »
Dan,

I faced the same challenge some years back, but did not want to try to build furniture quality as they were to be a leave-behind with the house.

I purchased commercial base cabinets - they are available in many styles -, made a solid wood top to match, and then constructed built in shelves above the top of the "counter top" but narrower than the base cabinets giving the appearance of a breakfront. I used veneered plywood to give the natural wood effect to the wall behind the shelves. It was finished at the top with a substantial crown molding.

Be sure to make the shelves very short; books are quite heavy. I woule say try to limit shelf lengths to 30 inchess or so.

Karl
Karl

John Cashman

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Re: Large Library Shelves/Cabinets
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2010, 02:00:50 PM »
Shorter is better, especially if you use plywood. Plywood should have a wider solid wood edge to help prevent sagging. Shelves of any kind attached at both ends sag less than those that are adjustable. And if you can fasten them in the back they will sag even less. There have been a lot of studies done to analyze shelf material, width, thickness, span, edgings, load weight, etc. in regards to amount of sag. It makes a very big difference, and the eye can pick out a very small amount of deflection.

Dan B

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Re: Large Library Shelves/Cabinets
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2010, 12:42:51 PM »
Thanks to all who replied.  The information was most helpful.  Preston, I do have access to that issue of Popular Woodworking and will look up the article you cited.  Tony I've got the book you recommended on my to order list and will order it soon.  I'm experience building shelving units with plywood and edge trim so I have the appropriate tools to design for the weight of the books.  My major concern/issue is the use of plywood.  It seems to me that the quality of plywood has deteriorated so much and the cost continues to increase that I'm having trouble justifying its continued use.   The last I bought varied by almost 1/32" in thickness between sheets in the same stack. Full of voids too.  Unfortunately it has become Chinese junk.  Maybe your experience is different.  Again, thanks for the helpful words of advice.

Dan