Asked on May 21, 2018

What is the least expensive but sturdy product I can use for shelving?

EmilyNancy TurnerJoye R. Foster
+13

Answered

I plan to build two bookcases using slotted angle iron for the four corners and shelf supports. Trying to keep costs down but need strong shelves. I have lots of books!

9 answers
  • M. M..
    M. M..
    on May 21, 2018

    Be sure to attach securely, go into the wall studs or consider adding strength from floor attachments/uprights
    • L
      L
      on May 22, 2018

      Hi,
      Thank you, I‘ll anchor them to the wall. Good suggestion!
      Lillian
  • M. M..
    M. M..
    on May 21, 2018

    Do you want shelves, or bookcases? There are shelving boards available at hardware stores. The trick to holding lots of weight is either making the shelves short, or having vertical dividers holding the length of the shelf above. The uprights can be staggered but don't leave long widths of wood to start sagging. I even saw a bookcase where the uprights had been painted to look like book spines and they 'disappeared', not obvious at all!
    • L
      L
      on May 22, 2018

      Thank you! Actually, I guess I’m making shelving. I’ll keep them to a few feet and use the ‘book‘ style supports as well. How cute!
  • Ken
    Ken
    on May 21, 2018

    Particle board is least expensive, but will bow over time. One-by lumber will give you the sturdiness that you need.
    • L
      L
      on May 22, 2018

      Thank you. That’s the kind of information I need to learn!
  • Nancy Turner
    Nancy Turner
    on May 21, 2018

    I would use nothing under 3/4 or higher thickness boards for the outside framing. For the shelves, I would do 1/2 to 3/4" boards. You didn't give the dimensions of the bookcase you were planning to build. If you plan on more than a couple of feet wide, I would make sure to put in a center support. I have a bookcase that I have had for years that is about three feet wide. I literally have books double stacked on each shelf and a couple of them are sagging a little from the weight. My other bookshelves are also two deep and sometimes two high if there is room and aren't sagging, but they are all probably two feet or less in width. I have five bookcases in my back room and one in the living room that is built in and still have a couple of large totes with more books. I am an avid reader. I also have a Nook with about two hundred books on it, with no overlap on the actual books that I own.
    • L
      L
      on May 22, 2018

      Hi Nancy,
      Oh, for the love of books! Thank you so much for your insight. i guess I’m actually making shelving but will keep them to about two feet with your suggestions in mind. When I relocated I gave away 400+ books. I wish I had a larger home! My iPad is loaded with reading too but I still love the feel of a book in my hands.
      Thank you so much,
      Lillian
  • William
    William
    on May 22, 2018

    With the angle iron looks like your going for an industrial look. Most low cost wood is construction grade lumber. 1x, 2x. boards. I have a lot of woodworking books and magazines going back to the 70's. Haven't subscribed for the past few years now that everything is online. Lots of free projects out there.
    • L
      L
      on May 22, 2018

      Thanks so much. I’ll look online. I like the old resources, they often have tips that are the best but not heard of these days. I need shelves because I keep old resources too!
  • Nancy Turner
    Nancy Turner
    on May 22, 2018

    I, too have given away a lot of books as my taste changed over the years. I actually still have some of the books I have had since the seventies that I still enjoy rereading. Just make sure you have support in the middle if you are having a lot of heavy books on that shelf. Remember to use book ends or put something on the edge of the shelves to hold them on the shelf so that they don't fall off. I actually have a book shelf that my mom had used since the sixties made of stacked bricks with redwood shelves about eight foot long. There are four stacks of bricks across the bottom and a board over them, bricks and another board etc. to about three foot high. It works really well and holds a lot of books and knick knacks.
    • L
      L
      on May 22, 2018

      Hi,
      You know, I had a cinder block and wood book shelf just like your moms when in college in the 70’s! Forgot all about it! I bet the redwood is gorgeous. is yours made with cinder blocks? Thanks for the reminder!
      Lillian
  • Joye R. Foster
    Joye R. Foster
    on May 22, 2018

    MDF if the bookcases are inside.
  • Nancy Turner
    Nancy Turner
    on May 22, 2018

    Mine is made with reused bricks that were used on the outside of their house and for built ins in both of their family rooms, they had extra, so they used them for a lot of things. My mom stained the redwood and they still look really nice after more than thirty years!
  • Emily
    Emily
    on May 22, 2018

    We have bookcases in just about every room in our house from cellar to attic. The ones that we made are all made out of plywood. In the first example the sides were notched for the shelves, in the second I see my husband put that metal stripping on the sides with little clips to hold the shelves. Sometimes the shelves are held with little pegs. We also have a fair number of found bookcases and even a bought one that has glass doors and a key! MDF is terrifically heavy for bookshelves.
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