I need to suggestions to finish a little DIY project

I’m in the process of making a bookshelf. Dead simple design, and one I’ve used before. Last time I finished off each level of the shelves with dowel along three sides to act as stops for the books. It looked nice, but kind of dull. I’m thinking there has to be something more interesting that I can use, but I’ve no idea what.
I thought about steel cable but it proved too difficult to get sufficient tension in a little mock up. ¼" Brass would look great I think, but it’s quite expensive (£40 or so, but I might go with it).
Here’s the assembled shelf (not glued yet, so it can come apart again easily).
Any ideas? Crazy stuff more than welcome!
Oh, I put a metre on one shelf for scale…


I’m a bit confused - where would you be putting the dowels? Side or back?

Anyway, based on a shelving unit I saw in a bar once, how about knotted rope? Drill a hole through each shelf, drop a rope down through the hole, put a big knot at the top, pull the rope tight at each shelf and tie a knot either side of each hole.

Nice idea jjimm, I like it.
I’d be putting whatever device I come up with along three sides of (both sides and the back), and parallel to, each shelf positioned roughly halfway between the shelf and the one above so that the books don’t fall off either through the sides or the back. Does that make sense?

Yes it does!

Am having a look around my house now to see if there’s anything else quirky that would inspire.

Wine bottles?

Wow that’s awesome! A bit chunky for this project but I’ll store that idea away :slight_smile:

How about using flexible copper tubing? Drill holes in the shelf bottom and one above in a way that you can create a zig zag design between shelves on the three sides you’ve mentioned. Copper might be cost prohibitive right now, so you might consider other flexible metal ‘rods’ that suit the function.

With your original cable idea Andy, could you not achieve the same effect using brass picture wire? You could get the tension with that. Even if you have two or three ‘lines’ of it, rather than just one.

That could look really good, 6 things, thanks!

You could put a frilly canopy on the top.

That might clash with the valance…

The side restraints don’t have to be parallel to the shelves. I can see the side dowels angled for interest… probably higher at the back than the front.

Heckity suggests flexible copper; rigid copper could also work. It could be angled on the sides, maybe from the top of one shelf to the bottom of the shelf above it. That configuration would probably need two copper restraint bars at the end of each shelf.

I don’t know if it would save any money, but for good strength you can use thin walled copper pipe with dowels lodged inside of them. (A bit of urethane glue on a damp dowel will form a solid unit with the copper pipe.)

Hope that was all clear. Pictures (like the one in the OP) are a good thing.

Just use any standard book end, like these from Ikea. They don’t take any place, because they use the weight of the books themselves to keep them up.
In the empty spaces besides the book-ends you can put some visually interesting knick-nack.

And just for fun, here are some astonishing book shelves.

That upside-down one is amazing!

I like the rope idea which can be modified by smaller multiple strands coming together in a braid in the center of each shelf. A dowel rod at an angle halfway up connected to a piece of wood that is perpendicular to the shelves to form the number “7”.

Thanks all for the huge amount of food for thought.
The staircase bookshelf is just incredible!

Probably too late since it looks assembled, but you could cut grooves in the uprights and slide in some kind of thin plywood or plexi-glass panels. I imagine the panels with cutouts so as to not “close in” the shelves.

How is that thing put together? Are the shelf supports mortissed into the uprights?

MLC, I like that idea, this is really helping me to see things a little less conventionally.
It’s assembled, but not glued yet, a quick rattle and it falls to bits.
Yes, that’s it exactly. When you’ve got a hammer, everything looks like a nail; when you’ve got a hollow chisel morticer…
It’s such a quick, easy and robust assembly it’s hard to resist. Obviates the need for talent too.

Tell me about it. I picked up a dovetail bit on clearance, and built a bookshelf with nothing but. . .

My bookshelves follow a different design, one based on ones my dad made. But I’m inspired to try building one using your pattern.