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How to stabilize a bookshelf without backing



I removed the backing from several tall bookcases, partly because I wanted to see the colored wall behind them, and partly because they were torn/damaged when I moved.  I really like how they look without the backings, but now they're very unstable and they sway side to side very easily.  They room is carpeted, and the base molding prevents the bookcases from resting flush against the wall.  (I'm renting, so I can't remove the molding or the carpet.)


Is there a way to stabilize the bookshelves without using the backings? Would L brackets on all of the corners give them enough stability to not sway side to side? (I keep the shelves evenly spaced and I don't move them around, so I don't mind if they're screwed in place.) Would it help if there was brace that was screwed into the back of both bookshelves since they sit side by side?


Here's a link to the bookshelves if you need to see the specifications:


Thanks for your help!

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Posted 2013-01-23T23:01:19+0000  by cherie98662 cherie98662

Hello Cherie98662,


Welcome to the community.


I agree that bookcases do look better if you can see the color of the wall throught them.


If you attach both of them together it will make them more stable but it would be better if you either used the L-brackets like you mentioned in all 4 corners or you could use 1/8" plywood and just nail it in the bottom 1 or 2 openings.


The other thing you can do is cut the 1/8" plywood into triangles and nail them to the back so that they line up with the shelves. This will give you more of a decorative look from the front and it will allow you to see the wall and give it a little bit of style. You could even paint it a contrasting color if you wanted to. It would also work if you just added small/medium triangle to all 4 corners. It won't take much to keep it from swaying.


So figure out what will work with your decor and then hammer away.


Let me know if you have any other questions. I would love to help.



Posted 2013-01-24T00:11:21+0000  by Christine_HD_OC


Were the bookcases mine, I would duplicate the original backing material in thin plywood and replace it. The plywood could be primed and  painted the wall color before replacing it.  I doubt that merely partially replacing the backing would supply enough lateral strength, especially since they are normally held in by only small finishing nails..


I really doubt that mere angle brackets would provide ridgidity, at least without becoming somewhat unattractive. Small brackets  would not prevent lateral sway. Brackets which form larger triangles might provide enough strength, but at the price of being unsightly and getting in the way of objects on the shelves. Your bookcases have somewhat of a formal appearance and utility type brackets would not be in keeping with their style.


Whatever your decision, it would be highly advisable to fasten the bookshelves to the wall with a simply L-bracket mounted to the top of the unit and into a wall stud. Bookshelves are not very stable. Should a young child decide to climb up to get some enticing item, they could well tip forward and fall, causing damage and personal injury. This problem is compounded by the fact that they are on carpet rather than hard floor.

The tack-strip which is mounted close to the wall tends to tip the unit forward. This can be countered by placing a lattice strip under the front edges.


Fastening to the wall would also provide additional lateral stability.


I have several heavy teak bookshelves in my family room. All are fastened to the wall securely with L-brackets. To assure that they are not visible from a distance, I cut off all but the closest hole to the angle with a hack saw. Two short screws fasten into the top of the bookself and only one into the stud. The screw into the stud must be long enough to span the stand-off from the wall, the 1/2 thickness of the drywall and extend about an inch into the stud. This should leave only the screw hole in the drywall to patch when you move at sometime in the future.


Hope this has been of assistance.

Posted 2013-01-24T06:14:39+0000  by ordjen
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