We are installing some cabinets with built in bookshelves and like the look and durability that a hardwood countertop would provide.

Our question is how to replicate the example installation above and still allow for countertop expansion. Suppose the bookshelves were to rest fully on the countertop thus sandwiching the countertop between the cabinet base and bookshelves above. Would that restrict movement enough to cause damage to the countertop as it expands and contracts? If so, what would be the best way to secure the built in bookshelves?

Our initial plan was to lay the bookshelves on top of the countertop. Then, we'd secure the bookshelves to the wall using cabinet screws. Attaching the countertop to the cabinet base would be done using the screw method below.

  1. In the back, normal screws would be used allowing no movement.
  2. In the front, channels for screws would be routed out in the countertop supports running perpendicular to the wood grain. Expansion would occur toward the face of the cabinet. This is done so the countertop may be installed flush against the wall.

Is this approach viable?

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to StackExchange. The weight of the bookshelves enough would not be enough to restrain wood movement. Expansion or contraction is capable of splitting wood or popping free a glue joint so the friction from the weight of bookshelves of this approx. size packed full of books would easily be overcome. Visible damage to the finish is a possibility (details of construction matter here) but bear in mind the relevant expansion is across whatever depth the bookcases are (14" at max?) and this is fairly small, and can be reduced further with careful choice of material.
    – Graphus
    Feb 8 '21 at 1:07

I would suggest using a french cleat to secure the bookshelves to the wall. Then have the bookshelves just sit on the countertop. I dont think it is even neccessary to secure it down as the weight of the bookshelf will keep it in place. If you want it so the uprights/feet of the bookshelves cannot shift at all you could use some doweling pins into the bottom of the bookshelf feet and the top of the cabinet. If you oversize the holes slightly into the countertop then it will allow for the expansion/contraction.

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