big shelving project

springcornAugust 21, 2014

I have a weird modified a-frame house.
At the end of the roof line the walls actually come in. The result is that the house is shaped like this:

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The bottom floor essentially is lined with separated bays that look like closets with no door and angled back pieces.

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Many of these bays are lined with shelves. Book cases, stereo, pantry, etc.
Because of the angles the shelf size varies from 10 inches to 26" in depth and they are 44" wide.

Of course it was previously all hodge podge. So every shelf essentially was a different piece of wood. Some of them bow significantly. Some use 1"x2" end pieces to support them. Not sure if that was sturdy enough. My stereo and record collection always seem on the brink of collapse.

I recently ripped them all the shelves out, and repainted the whole house. Now I want to put the closetish shelves back in. But this time I want to make them consistent and sturdier.

Anyways, what is the easiest way to build STURDY shelves that look ok in these bays?

Do I just use plywood or will that bow?

How do I support them? Are 1" by 2" pieces really enough?

thanks!

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lazy_gardens

Pictures please?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 7:34PM
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springcorn

Here is an example of a book case in one of the bays with my couch in front of it

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:34PM
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springcorn

Here is a bunch of the bays lined up mostly painted

As you can see the angles makes it a little different than a normal closet.
The sides are 3/8 plywood with really nothing in between them.
The upper angle on the roof sheeting is some kind of plywood. But the lower angle is crappy sheet rock that you can't depend on for studs behind it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 9:37PM
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klem1

It's no wonder the shelves sagged,they are over loaded. If you intend stuffing them like the picture,go industrial all the way. Seriously,the lower section with sheetrock needs to be overlayed with plywood and utilized for added support. Russian birch comes to mind for the intire project because exposed edges look good. 1x2 cleats on ends are plenty support for the shelves. To conceal end of cleats and stiffen shelves,glue 2" strips of plywood under and 3/4ths from front edge of shelf and to ends of cleats.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 1:34AM
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HandyMac

Those shelves with books are completely overloaded and sag because they are far too insubstantial.

Research torsion box shelf construction. You can make torsion box shelves and slide them in place on those supports you had under the original shelves.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 10:25AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil

At 44" they definitely need a support in the center, IMHO. Unless they are made stiff enough by other means.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 1:51PM
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springcorn

Thanks for the replies.
I really don't want to replace the sheet rock with plywood. There are like 16 of these things in my house and that would really add to the project.

How can I do a center brace in this situation? I don't understand how I would attach it to the sides.

So would I just use thicker plywood for the shelf material. Recommendations?

Keep in mind I am just a homeowner trying to do basic projects, not a woodworker.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 3:25PM
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sunnyca_gw

You might consider an extra shelf where you have the books between the top & bottom 1. That's a real overload & with extra shelf easier to get book out & less sag from less weight. It is hard to tell how long the shelves are, sofa pic it looks like 5-6 ft long, other pic looks. more like 4 ft. 6 ft is about max without center support I think. Could put 3 in. solid wood support up center & attach centers of each shelf & screw into the top wall, don't know exactly how to tell you but maybe someone could draw a pic of what it would look like.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2014 at 10:59PM
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mosquitogang201

Just throwing out another option to avoid center bracing. The attached picture shows how I built shelves for my closet. They are 8 feet long, holding up the full length of clothes plus whatever we have stacked on top with no noticeable sag. Adding material in the vertical direction stiffens the shelf up quite a bit. You can of course change the materials and sizes to what you need. Since you don't have a vertical wall to support the back edge of the shelf, you could build it with two stiffeners instead, one near the back edge and the other closer to the forward edge. If you're worried about the screws being visible on top, drive them a little deep, fill with drywall mud, and paint over it.

This post was edited by mosquitogang201 on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 15:04

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 3:01PM
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springcorn

Thanks for the reply and drawing.

So simply attaching a board across the shelf will provide stiffness despite it essentially only being attached to the shelf. I can do that.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 2:33PM
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klem1

So simply attaching a board across the shelf will provide stiffness despite it essentially only being attached to the shelf?

Yes it will and that's the sort of basic fundamentals one should understand before wading into complicated projects. To start a large or unusual project without having built a few bird houses and whirlly-gigs is inviting failure. People spend years aquiring expertise. Why would a novice believe it possible to by-pass all the baby steps by asking an experienced individual to tell them all they need to know in 25 words or less? Ok,here's bracing 101. Cut 2 pieces of Baltic Birch Plywood 12"x2". Break one (or attempt to) with your hands applying pressure from edge to edge. Now do the same while applying pressure from side to side. Bracing 102. Stand a 2x4 on edge and step on it while noteing how much it bends. Fiip the board on it's side and step on it again. Which position did board flex least? Next we will see which drives nails best,4 little tap tap taps or a single athortive whack.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 5:01PM
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