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I'm planing on using live edge boards for the sides of a floor to ceiling bookcase, and I would prefer not too use a "header" board (for lack of better term) or any sort of trim around the top or bottom. That is, I want the sides to really be full length from floor to ceiling.

How might I best accomplish this?

The boards will be ~ 1.5-2" thick and ~8' long, so I can't just bend them into place. I was thinking of making 45º miter cuts on the bottom inside faces, the sliding the waste back in after the sides are installed. Might there be a better way?

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The only way to do what you are describing it to build it in place. Cabinet makers generally do no make the sides floor to ceiling for this reason and a few others.

You generally do would want a recessed toe kick for something like this rather than just a bottom shelf resting on the floor, which both looks bad, and functionally doesn't allow much of an opportunity to shim or scribe to any out of level floor.

The same goes for the ceiling, which will undoubtedly not be straight or level over any sizeable distance. So if you desire a built in appearance, you should design the shelf to incorporate scribes where it meets the walls, floor and ceiling.

Furthermore, if you build this completely and then install, you will need to be able to stand it up in place, and this means that the longest measurement from corner to corner will need to clear the ceiling, Building a separate toekick will give you a head start here. If you have 6" baseboards, and thus build a 6" tall toekick separate, then you can stand up the shelf, which will be at least 6" shorter before it is set on the toekick. Also, you can level your toekick first, and then run baseboard around it, and shoe mould to cover any gap at the floor.

Then you just need to address the scribe at the ceiling. If you build the shelf with a faceframe, then you can account for scribe in the top rail. Otherwise you could add trim, either overlay, or recessed. If recessed you can create a reveal which would make any trim at the top sort of disappear into a shadow line.

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  • to address some of these points: 1) I will be building it in place, not trying to fit the entire assembly into place! 2) yes, there will be a toe kick 4) I can handle scribing the ceiling/floor contact areas on scrap then transfering to the actual piece (my ceiling is slightly flexible too) 3) I want to be clear: I'm trying to design this without a face frame and trim along the top, and preferably not the bottom either. – aaron Feb 24 '17 at 21:02
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With sides at least 1.5 inches thick, a major-league tongue and groove joint (or a sliding dovetail if you are feeling fancy) would allow you to assemble the sides in place without having to tip them up into place.

Edit, add: If you wanted to minimize the visual effect on the live edge, use a stopped groove/loose tenon/groove joint and cut it apart with a very fine-kerf saw.

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One approach might be to use steel clip angles with 3/4"to 1" legs several inches long to fasten the screwed to the wall at the back, top and bottom on the inside face. The angles would easily be concealed when the bookshelves are loaded. You could also cut 1/8" wide kerfs at the angle locations such that the angles are covered when the side panels are slid into place. The angles would be under, over and behind the panels. Make certain that there is wood blocking behind the plaster/drywall finish to adequately support the angles. You might also be able to substitute dowels for the angles.

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