Bookshelves

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Bookshelves

Postby anonenigma » Tue Jul 16, 2013 4:57 pm

I have a huge library and need to buy new bookshelves. I'm impressed with the quality of a couple of IKEA Billy shelves and wonder if I should just get 6 or 7 of the 6.5 footers or if there's something better worth considering.

I'm in earthquake country. Do I need to anchor them to the wall?

There are two versions of the Billy shelves - the 11" deep and the 15" deep ($20 more). I assume that the wider shelf would significantly improve stability. If I get those, would I be less likely to need to anchor them to the wall?

Thanks, in advance, for your input.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby pjstack » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:25 pm

Anchor them to the wall no matter which variation you buy. You won't be sorry.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby Hikes_With_Dogs » Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:35 pm

pjstack wrote:Anchor them to the wall no matter which variation you buy. You won't be sorry.


+1
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby G-Money » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:09 pm

Big fan of the Billy bookcases. I haven't seen the 15" deep ones; mine are all 11" deep.

Definitely anchor them to the wall. They come with an anchor and a screw for the bookcase. You just need a screw to drill into the wall.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby JDaniels » Tue Jul 16, 2013 6:16 pm

G-Money wrote:Big fan of the Billy bookcases. I haven't seen the 15" deep ones; mine are all 11" deep.

Definitely anchor them to the wall. They come with an anchor and a screw for the bookcase. You just need a screw to drill into the wall.


Make sure to find a stud too. With that weight, drywall alone won't help.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby Dutch » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:07 pm

Imagine all the space you would save with an e-reader :D
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby anonenigma » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:10 pm

Dutch wrote:Imagine all the space you would save with an e-reader :D


Very few of the books published in the past century are available in electronic form.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby frugaltype » Tue Jul 16, 2013 7:49 pm

anonenigma wrote:I have a huge library and need to buy new bookshelves. I'm impressed with the quality of a couple of IKEA Billy shelves and wonder if I should just get 6 or 7 of the 6.5 footers or if there's something better worth considering.

I'm in earthquake country. Do I need to anchor them to the wall?


Anchor everything possible to the wall. Every earthquake or so, someone's kid or pet has a television fall on them.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby shmidds » Tue Jul 16, 2013 8:37 pm

Yes, anchor to the wall. The Billy bookcases come with an L bracket that takes seconds to mount.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby texasdiver » Tue Jul 16, 2013 9:17 pm

We converted our unused formal dining room into a library and music room by filling one entire wall with the white Billy bookshelves. I also added the extra height sections on top which mostly accumulates collectables not books and I added the clear glass doors to the fronts which we really like and makes it look more finished.

First you absolutely need to anchor them to the wall for 2 reasons, first to keep them from tipping, but also to keep them square. Especially if you are adding doors. Over time the particle board and connectors will loosen up and get wobbly, especially under the weight of all the books. I would throw away the little anchor straps that Ikea supplies and go to your hardware store and get some good solid angle braces and anchor every bookshelf to a stud after first making sure everything is square. If you fill up a whole wall like I did you will also probably find out how crooked your walls are.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby vveat » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:30 pm

We have a small library room all lined up with Billy shelves, the 11" deep version. I prefer paperbacks and with 11" you can easily do 1 or 2 rows, we even have done layered double rows, by having the back row books on a small custom "step". I also like the flexibility to change the height of most shelves to whatever works for you.
On top of each unit we have added one more shelf - they sell these individual 13.5" high Billy pieces, and if you add it on top of the regular unit, you perfectly utilize an 8' high room.
I agree that everything needs steady anchoring to the wall - valid in any case, but hugely important if you have a kid - our 2 year old has scaled up the cases to the top many times. By the way, we need to refinish the floor in the library room pretty soon and now I have the dilemma whether to work around the shelves, or to detach them and do a thorough job:-)
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby Kosmo » Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:48 pm

Thank God I'm not the only one still holding on to physical books! If you're handy at all, build the bookshelves yourself. You can use the Billy design as your template. But you'll be able to completely customize it in terms of shelf height, width, and depth. You can skip the particleboard backer and use real wood or let the wall paint show through. You can stain the wood to match the floor or other furniture in the room. You can build a true floor to ceiling shelf, corner pieces, built in desk. You get the picture, it's 100% up to you.

Our formal living room is our library and in the not too distant future I will be building custom bookshelves for about 20 ft of wall space.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby Jeff7 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:20 am

I suggest using metal shelves, or shelves that are at least reinforced with metal. In my experience, particleboard shelves will warp over time, under the simple weight of what they were allegedly designed to hold. Some of the cheaper ones will warp under nothing more than their own weight.

Or genuine solid wood.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby anonenigma » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:36 pm

Jeff7 wrote:I suggest using metal shelves, or shelves that are at least reinforced with metal. In my experience, particleboard shelves will warp over time, under the simple weight of what they were allegedly designed to hold. Some of the cheaper ones will warp under nothing more than their own weight.


Can you suggest specific brands? I'm not sure what I'm looking at on Amazon, and official metal library shelves cost 6-8 times as much as a Billy.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby gd » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:10 pm

I always put a small post for additional support in the center of cheap or heavily-loaded shelves over about 2' width, particularly composite or any 3/4" (actual) thickness pine. Just a 1"x1" post is enough (from my scrap lumber collection), cut to exactly the weight of the unwarped, empty shelf height, positioning each of them directly over the one below. I try for a slightly snug fit (add a shim if not), so they don't get bumped out of place or have a slight cascading warp at the center. Don't forget the bottom shelf to floor, if appropriate. If I wanted to get fancy I'd tack it in place with a small finishing nail, but I never bother. It's a very simple trick, and has worked well for me.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby jasc15 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:24 pm

I don't have the Billy bookshelves, but I have Ikea's Hemnes shelves. I purposely got these because it is one of Ikea's only solid wood (albeit only pine) line. They feel pretty solid, and I don't expect the shelves to warp the way particleboard inevitably does over time. Naturally, they are more expensive than the Billy shelves, and they don't come in different depths, but still pretty reasonable. I will probably get more when I move out of my apartment into a house and make a wall of shelves. There are some great ideas for customization on Ikea hackers as well.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:59 pm

anonenigma wrote:
Jeff7 wrote:I suggest using metal shelves, or shelves that are at least reinforced with metal. In my experience, particleboard shelves will warp over time, under the simple weight of what they were allegedly designed to hold. Some of the cheaper ones will warp under nothing more than their own weight.


Can you suggest specific brands? I'm not sure what I'm looking at on Amazon, and official metal library shelves cost 6-8 times as much as a Billy.


I found these shelves on Amazon.com. They look sturdy and are highly rated. Right now I have 25-year old IKEA shelves. They are sagging and may collapse soon.

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Re: Bookshelves

Postby Jeff7 » Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:04 pm

anonenigma wrote:
Jeff7 wrote:I suggest using metal shelves, or shelves that are at least reinforced with metal. In my experience, particleboard shelves will warp over time, under the simple weight of what they were allegedly designed to hold. Some of the cheaper ones will warp under nothing more than their own weight.


Can you suggest specific brands? I'm not sure what I'm looking at on Amazon, and official metal library shelves cost 6-8 times as much as a Billy.
I'm afraid it was more of a general recommendation.

I use steel wire shelf sets for shelving needs (storage, or recently, for my collection of succulent plants), or in one case, I built a shelf set out of an old waterbed frame, which was made of cherry wood. That turned out quite well, and each shelf was strong enough to hold my own weight.
The downside of those wire shelf sets is that each shelf is held in place by plastic "sleeves." A rib on the inside fits into a groove on the post, and the compressive force of the shelf pushes that rib firmly into place. But...it's still just a thin plastic rib holding up everything, though I've yet to have any problems. Still, drilling a hole and driving a screw through would certainly hold them in place very securely.
For storing books, I suggest laying down some kind of flat surface on the wire racks - for this, laminated particleboard would work fine. Storing books on the wires will likely result in indentations forming in the edges of the book covers.

Another option for particleboard shelves: Drill and countersink some holes, and add some reinforcement to the underside of each shelf. Your allowable weight per shelf will still be limited by whatever is securing them to the sides, but they'll at least be resistant to bowing.



VictoriaF wrote:I found these shelves on Amazon.com. They look sturdy and are highly rated. Right now I have 25-year old IKEA shelves. They are sagging and may collapse soon.

Victoria
25 years? Impressive.
Most of the particleboard furniture I've seen or used lately will be visible sagging within 2 years.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby anonenigma » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:11 am

jasc15 wrote:I don't have the Billy bookshelves, but I have Ikea's Hemnes shelves. I purposely got these because it is one of Ikea's only solid wood (albeit only pine) line. They feel pretty solid, and I don't expect the shelves to warp the way particleboard inevitably does over time. Naturally, they are more expensive than the Billy shelves, and they don't come in different depths, but still pretty reasonable.


Definitely leaning toward the Hemnes. A good price for solid wood, and with the extra width, 7 of those will hold the same as eight Billies.

Thanks for the metal shelf suggestions, but they don't seem well-suited to books - better for garage storage. The 18" depth will also take too big a chunk out of the hallway.

Thanks, everyone, for the advice.
Last edited by anonenigma on Thu Jul 18, 2013 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby VictoriaF » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:19 am

Jeff7 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:I found these shelves on Amazon.com. They look sturdy and are highly rated. Right now I have 25-year old IKEA shelves. They are sagging and may collapse soon.

Victoria
25 years? Impressive.
Most of the particleboard furniture I've seen or used lately will be visible sagging within 2 years.


They have been sagging for a while, but it started more than a couple years after the purchase. I am contemplating the next move soon, and that would be a good opportunity to replace the shelves. I don't mind how the metal shelves look. The esthetics come from the book titles.

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Re: Bookshelves

Postby anonenigma » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:02 pm

Going back and forth on what to do.

I currently have solid pine shelves that used to be in a shoe store - 48" x 84" x 12". I cross braced them, added L brackets at the corners, and lacquered them. They're ugly, made of rough boards, but they sure hold a lot of books and could work in our new, very pretty apartment. One annoying limitation is that the shelves were meant for shoeboxes and can't accommodate many standard hardcover books, let alone oversize books, so my library is not organized in quite the same way it would be without that limitation.

I've been looking at the Hemnes bookcases someone was kind enough to recommend, and I'm willing to pop for 7 or 8 of those if they are likely to be lifetime bookshelves. I'm 57 now, and there's longevity in my family. If we move again, I want the shelves to be in great shape to come with us. Are the Hemnes bookcases of that quality?

Also, what hardware do you recommend for attaching shelves to the plaster walls? I bought an inexpensive but well-reviewed stud finder last night so I won't have to use the "knock and hope you're right" technique.

Your guidance will be most appreciated.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby Statch » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:26 pm

I bought the Billy bookshelves in 2001 and they've still going strong, after 7 moves, 3 of them international moves. One of the Billys did get shaky 2 moves ago, but I was asking an awful lot of it. If you ever do move with them, when you take out the little pins that hold the shelves up, put them someplace where you can find them when you're ready to set up the bookshelves at the other end! :happy

I've converted to ebooks over the years, and have gotten rid of some bookshelves. I've read that because so many people are doing that, you can find nice bookshelves cheap at garage sales.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby Ged » Sat Jul 20, 2013 9:31 pm

I've had three Billy shelves for 15 years now. No complaints about sagging, although I do put my heavy books on the bottom shelves.

Of course I imagine that it's possible the quality isn't the same now as 15 years ago.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby parsi1 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 10:54 pm

I bought some cheap Walmart book cases for my books many years ago. When I was putting them together I used wood glue at the joints for reinforcement. It made a big difference how solid they stayed together even after several moves. They are still in the basement with the books. My wife didn't want my book cases or the books upstairs. after reading this post I have to anchor them to the wall since the same room is used as play room for the kids.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby epilnk » Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:06 pm

The Billys hold up pretty well for particle board - I don't even know how old ours are but over a decade, and only a couple of the shelves with the heaviest textbooks are showing any sag. They're cheap enough that you could always pick up a couple of spare shelves if you are worried about warping. 11" is a good depth for books, and yes you do need to anchor them.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby anonenigma » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:48 pm

Ended up going Boglehead. My local IKEA had the brown 31 x 72 Billy on sale for $65 - down from $80. The Hemnes was nice, but none of the salespeople thought it would hold up significantly better than the Billy. The 8 Billies with delivery came to about $625. 8 Hemneses with delivery would have cost $1,361. Saved well over $700.

Now I have to assemble them!

Thanks for the advice, everyone.
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Re: Bookshelves

Postby Jay69 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:21 am

anonenigma wrote:There are two versions of the Billy shelves - the 11" deep and the 15" deep ($20 more). I assume that the wider shelf would significantly improve stability. If I get those, would I be less likely to need to anchor them to the wall?



If going to attach a wall I don't think the wider shelf would significantly improve the stability in anyway. Really would not help with sagging either if deeper.

If you want a project, making book shelf's are not to bad to make if you are handy. If you take a piece of plywood/pine/even MDF and attach a piece of 1x2 to the front of it you get a shelf that has a much better chance of not sagging. I have not seen the IKEA that I recall but have made a few replacement book cases for others who have MDF cases. Books are just heavy!
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