I've built a bookshelf that is basically just glued wood with notches cut in:


With the vertical struts 50cm apart, this is ideal for just about anything: it nicely fits 40cm Euroboxes and 19 inch electronics.

Now I'd like to do the same again, but 60cm deep, and with a builtin desk. The desk should fit two monitors and a laptop, so it needs to be 2m wide, which will require me to leave out three vertical supports, or at least cut them back quite a bit. The desk should be at 30-35cm height, so I can sit on a cushion on the floor in front of it (the entire room is laid out with tatami, and so far I've been working on a 30cm high table, that seems to work fine).

My current idea would be to cut the vertical boards back to 10cm width inside the cutout, and add a small, 20cm deep, bookshelf above the space that is still recessed inside the nook, so the vertical boards would look like one of these:

Plan for vertical boardOther plan for vertical board

This is pretty much optimal for my storage and work needs, but I don't quite trust that it will be stable enough, because the overhang will not be able to carry a lot of weight and there is no vertical stabilization in the back -- basically the entire weight of each row is carried by the front part and needs to be transferred to the back where there is a continuous connection to the floor.

Can I sensibly add horizontal supports below the bookshelf and the lowest full-length row, or will that just bend as well and not significantly take load off the weak points?

My idea here would be to fix a horizontal slat, possibly from some harder wood than the main construction, near the front to support the weak points, and anchor it on the sides (where there are no cutouts, just slots to slide in the horizontal shelves). Is that feasible?

Second, this might need stronger attachment to the wall than the original shelves (which carry all the weight on their own and just need to be kept from folding up sideways or falling over). The wall this would be up against is a load-bearing brick wall. Should I add more anchor points near the top here, and basically expect that there will be more of a pulling instead of a shearing force (so longer pegs and screws), or is that useless?

Does it make sense to switch up the wood type here for more strength (the current ones are fir/spruce) or does that introduce other issues I'm not aware of?

Should I waste a bit of space and leave 15-20cm remaining (basically, the monitors are 60cm wide, so the remaining bits on the vertical supports define how far back I can place them)?

Any other ideas I might have overlooked?

  • This'll work for sure with extra reinforcement as needed. You're right to not think that the shallow cutout (this is the notch for a special kind of half-lap joint in modern terminology, overlap joint in older books) will support a shelf that projects much more in front, if there will be any decent load applied (it would be fine for just a few knick-knacks though). – Graphus Jun 4 at 18:13
  • "Can I sensibly add horizontal supports below the bookshelf and the lowest full-length row, or will that just bend as well and not significantly take load off the weak points?" This will stiffen the shelf a great deal, but it won't add support where needed. You really need to add some sort of bracket underneath here, even if it is only one centrally placed. – Graphus Jun 4 at 18:14
  • @Graphus, I've added a variant that leaves a bit more support, although that would probably not feel as cozy, and I'm still sceptical about strength, because the shelves above sag down a bit over time. – Simon Richter Jun 4 at 18:30
  • Anything central is difficult, because I need the 200x60cm area for the monitors to be unobstructed. What I could do is something like the second variant, and then add something to strengthen along the diagonal parts. – Simon Richter Jun 4 at 18:33
  • Hmm, the nose in front probably doesn't contribute much strength anyway, so I could pretty much go in the 45 degree angle to the front – Simon Richter Jun 4 at 18:36

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