Danny Yee >> Tech notes

Wall-mounted timber bookshelves

With the help of my father, I put these together myself.

1: the wall mounting

vertical mounting strips
the wall mounting system
I used the HandyShelf system from Bunnings — it seemed more robust than the Ikea alternative. (I find that the identical shelving system is available in the UK from B&Q, though the components are much more expensive.) It was a little tricky working out how to use the dynabolts. They have to be tight enough in the hole to grip or they just spin uselessly — if you don't need to hammer them in then they are too loose. So we had to avoid mortar joints. The vertical strips have holes for six screws, but we put four into each, figuring that would be plenty.

Nothing is straight in our 110+ year old house, so we aligned the strips to the gravitational vertical and with each other.

2: cutting the timber

We got the timber from Crescent Hardware and Timber — they have the timber laid out so you can check over it and I was pleased with the quality. (I wanted to use something other than pine, but alternatives were expensive and hard to verify as plantation-sourced.)

The choice was between 190mm and 240mm deep shelves. I opted to put 24cm deep shelves in the narrower (1.3m) section and 19cm deep ones in the wider (2m) one. The walls are decidedly not straight, so I cut each shelf individually to measure — on the right-hand section, the longest shelf is a good 15mm longer than the shortest one!

I oriented the timbers so the nicest edges were at the front, obviously, but also so that the top three shelves had the nicest face on the bottom. The worst face was on the bottom of the bottom shelf.

3: finishing the timber

The staining was a bit tricky and I made rather a mess of it. Fortunately the result looks fine as most of them are invisible. (I'm told there's a reason people still use oil-based stains... they're apparently better than the water-based ones.)
  1. fill eyes with woodfill, remove pencil marks from cutting
  2. sand with orbital sander and 120 grit paper, rounding edges, light hand sand (400 grit), wipe clean with damp cloth
  3. clear varnish (top/front/right, then bottom/back/left), light sand, remove dust
  4. stain and varnish (top/front, then bottom), light sand, remove dust
  5. stain and varnish (top/front, then bottom), light sand, remove dust


wall mounted shelves
the final result

That works out at about 26 metres of shelving. Overflow books can also be stacked horizontally under the bottom shelf.

The only drawback to this system is that the brackets interfere with the books. One has to leave gaps or change the order so smaller books are placed to fit under the brackets. And there's some risk of books getting damaged if they are pushed in onto a bracket without care.
Tech notes << Danny Yee