Cut Carpet with Bookcases on top?

I have a bunch of bookcases on top of carpet. I wish to remove the carpet between the bookcases–but I don’t want to move the bookcases. How do I cut the carpet as closely as possible to the bookcases–but definitely don’t want to gouge the floor (with a knife…).

Also: any cheap power tools/attachments to help with this?


One possibility, use a long nose tin snips to start the cuts between the bookcases.

Have a soft wood board to cut against and slide this under the carpet as tight to the bookcase as possible.

Use a knife to make a close cut.
Repeat until carpet removed.

  1. Remove most of the carpet.
  2. Shove a thin metal object under the carpet and against the book shelf as hard as you can. Just don’t scratch the floor. I suggest using a cookie scraper. If you really want to avoid scraping the floor, use a plastic scraper.
  3. Use a very sharp knife and little force.

Just remember, if you’re not recarpeting the room, the floor will bleach unevenly and it will be quite obvious where the bookcases were, gouged floor or not.

Get a roto-cutting mat at a fabric/sewing place and slide it under. Use a sharp box cutter or exacto knife.

Slice slowly across the top of the carpet with a knife to break through the carpet backing then lift the carpet and slice with the knife or use heavy scissors.

First you get the edge of the carpet up, enough to attach a clamp to. Then use heavy gauge cord or rope to attach to the clamp. Is your room big enough to get an ATV in, or can you run the rope outside the room to your ATV? Attach the rope to the ATV and let 'er rip! Should pull the carpet between the two bookcases right up. This sounds like the solution you are looking for.

Bookcases are more stable sitting directly on hardwood. Tip overs are a hazard for children that love to climb. I’d suggest safety brackets screwed into the wall studs

A utility knife is the standard tool for carpet installers. A sharp razor blade is the key to a pro installation. They go through a lot of blades.

I prefer a folding utility knife.

Normally, I would pull up the carpet from the tack strips and then cut. So there’s no chance of damaging the hardwood.

A knee kicker reattaches carpet to tack strips. It can be rented.

Can’t you tilt the bookcase sideways one way and remove most of the carpet, then tilt the other way to remove the remainder of the carpet? Tilt so the bottom raises an inch or two and pull the carpet out; if necessary, wedge the bookcase up temporarily. That’s simpler than unloading and moving the bookcase, and as mentioned it will be more stable.

This is true.
And removing the carpet around them will make them even more unstable. They will be sitting raised up an inch or two, with soft carpet under them, and now nothing to the sides or front. If they begin to slide in any direction, the lack of carpet there could lead to them tipping over.

Just realize that the right way (& the safe option) is more work: temporarily remove the books, move the empty bookcase, remove the carpet from underneath, then replace the bookcases & books.

(But you might also take this opportunity to examine the books there, and see how many you really need to keep, and which ones can be donated elsewhere. I recently did this, and donated about 75-80% of the books. Much more room in my house now.)

Also, tack strips are a major PITA to remove. They use a special nail that really grips into the subfloor.

They will come up with a small pry bar.

I removed carpet from 2 rooms in my house.

Though you didn’t ask, I’ll offer the idea that recently came to me regarding how to replace my carpet despite having around 10,000 books that will need to be moved. (I haven’t done it yet, but it works in my mind.)

Buy 12 or 15 inexpensive furniture dollies from Harbor Freight or U-Line or Home Depot. Remove books from bookcases and stack them on the dollies in order, four stacks on each, about 50 inches high. Wrap the stacked books in cling wrap, as is done in warehouses, so they don’t shift while being moved. That way the books and bookcases can easily be shifted around as needed to properly replace the carpet.

Undoubtedly the lightly used dollies could then be resold in my neighborhood yard sale for nearly the original cost.

Curious as to why you are wanting to remove the carpet. If you’re too lazy to move the books temporarily to do the job correctly, I would have to assume that it doesn’t really matter what the carpet looks like in the room.

An oscillating tool (example) will allow you to cut flush with the bookcases. I’d trim the carpet up to an inch or two of the edge of the bookcase and then see if you can slip some sort of thin sheet metal under the edge of the case by tipping it a bit so that the floor is protected. I’d also put something against the side of the bookcase to protect it, too, as the movement of the flat side of the blade might scratch. If the carpet has a pad, I’d try for the carpet first and then work on the pad. Less chance of gouging the floor, I think, if you get the carpet out of the way first and then use a hand tool on the pad.

Moderator Note

Without knowing the motivations of the OP, assuming that they are lazy comes off as an insult. Please do not make comments like this in GQ.

Sorry, I see how that comes across. Which is why I also was asking why the desire to remove the carpet in the first place.

Hire a levitator.

I worked in a book warehouse for 7 years. if we needed to move things like this temporarily and maintain shelf integrity, we would just box them up and write the location on the box.

Packing multiple copies of new books is quite a different problem from packing up a library that includes some old and moderately fragile books, and keeping the books in order. Boxing always introduces some damage to the books, and packing the boxes reasonably full gets the books out of order. The boxes then can only be stacked so high before the cartons sag or fail, and have to be put on some sort of cart in any case.