The bookcase is a seemingly innocuous piece of furniture. It sits against the wall and holds books, right?
Maybe. If you want to make it something more, you can. For instance, an Asian-inspired bookcase built by David Marks of the DIY Network program "Wood Works" (Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. ET) is not designed to be placed against the wall, it is open on both sides and displays art objects as well as books.
"It's like a library," says Lynda Lyday, a licensed contractor, carpenter and co-host of DIY Network's "Talk2DIY Home Improvement" (Sunday-Friday, 7 a.m. ET). "It's a neat idea; the shelf comes out of the wall. If you have the room to do it, it would be great.'
When building a shelf, Lyday advises people to be consciously aware of how deep they want their shelves and what kinds of books the shelves will hold _ mostly paperbacks, for example, or heavy art books.
The books have to be secure on the shelf, but the shelf must also be able to withstand the books' weight. Most shelves are made of plywood or even pressboard. Oak used to be the norm, Lyday says, until it was priced out of reach for most homeowners.
According to DIY Network host Ed Del Grande, who has more than 20 years of construction experience, a bookcase also should have extra weight at the base. This increases safety by keeping the bookcase from tipping. And, as a safety precaution _ particularly with small children in the house _ the bookcase should be attached to the wall.
Bookcases can be built in a variety of ways:
_ Using stock shelving components, a bookshelf can be built into an existing alcove with wood trim to the front unit to make it appear built-in.
_ Glass can be used for bookcases. Use 1/4-inch thick green glass shelves with holes drilled in each of the corners and have copper pipes running vertically through each hole.
"It took time to polish the copper piping and spray with polyurethane, but it worked well," says Lyday, a licensed carpenter and contractor.
_ Barrister bookcases _ originally built for lawyers and bureaucrats and usually made of oak _ consist of open doors with see-through glass. Now some are made of other woods and steel.
_ Rope shelves can be made from hanging the shelves by rope, enabling them to be moved any way with far more ease than your conventional bookcase.
_ On the DIY Network program "Decorating and Design," (check listings) home-improvement expert Chris DeJulio has used gray, splintered peach crates to make rustic bathroom shelves. The side slats act as the bottom and back of the shelves. The end pieces are cut carefully to use as supports. A piece of twine becomes the front "rail," behind which sit small soaps, flowerpots and other knickknacks.
Lyday, whose book "Lynda Lyday's Do It Yourself" (Perigee Books, $16.95) comes out April 5, says shelves that have design elements such as chains "if done right can look aesthetically pleasing and even be a focal point for the room."
On the Web:
DIY Decorating and Design: Bookcases and Shelves":