Introduction: Massive Floating Shelf With Built in Bench

About: Just an average guy. husband, father of four, grandpa, civil engineer turned cabinetmaker, jack of all trades master of a few. Enjoys, golf, curling, woodworking, creativity & making things.

Well, this by far the most unique bookshelf I have ever built. It measures roughly 19 feet long, 8 feet high and protrudes off the wall 18 inches for the bench and 14 inches for the shelves. Each piece is 3 inches thick and the entire unit hangs solely off the wall with no visible fasteners.

Step 1: Architects ( Unique ? ) Vision

When I first saw the drawings for this put forth by the architect I just laughed and thought to myself "He's got to be kidding!!". It's one thing just to build something so large, but he wants to hang it entirely off the wall too ?!

Well, after a bit of time and a lot of head scratching, I came up with a plan. In this Instructable I will outline how it all came together and hopefully some of the techniques I used can be incorporated into your future projects.

Step 2: Initial Template

The first step is to lay the whole thing out ( full scale ) on the floor on 5 sacrificial sheets of 1/4 '' mdf laid side by side ( sorry some how I lost the photo of the layout siting on the shop floor ) so the first picture is the finished layout against the wall.

After drawing the layout cut 3'' strips of 1/4'' mdf the correct size ( These pieces will be a representation of the finished shelf lengths ) place them on the layout and tack them in place with a couple of pins, then using 1 1/2 '' strips of 1/4 '' mdf completely surround the 3'' strips that represent the shelves, glue down and pin in place.

Remove the three inch strips from in between the 1 1/2 '' strips, creating a fixed template to construct the shelves.

Step 3: Individual Shelf Construction

The shelves themselves are made up of 2 pieces of 3/4'' fir mdf core sheet goods, with 1 1/2 '' x 1 1/2 '' solid stock sandwiched between.

Using the representative 3'' strip of mdf cut one piece of 1 1/2 '' x 1 1/2 '' solid stock to the same length ( this will be the face piece ) and one 1 1/2 '' shorter ( the rear piece ). Then cut two pieces of the 3/4'' sheet fir the same length ( for the sides ) x the 14'' shelf depth.

Next, carefully glue and clamp the solid stock to one side ( flush to the front ). Note that on any shelf piece with a finished end I glued a 1 1/2 '' x 3/4 '' piece to close in the end. The back piece is set in a 1 1/2'' from the back to allow for a wall cleat. The other side is then glued and clamped. The shelves are held together entirely with glue so don't be stingy.

For any of the shelves with a 15 degree angle the procedure was the same except the sides were cut with the angle and the appropriate length to match your 1 1/2 '' x 1 1/2 '' face strip

After all the shelves are completed the faces and all the exposed ends need to be veneered with paper backed fir veneer. ( applied with tightbond cold press glue )

Step 4: Routing Out the Template for Wall Cleats

To accurately position the 1 1/2'' wall cleats on the finish wall use the template and router out where the cleats would be positioned.

After determining the location for the cleats on the template, take two pieces of 3/4 '' ( fir shelving mdf ) x 3/4'' thick and position on your template with two scrap piece of 1 1/2 '' x 1 1/2 '' x 3/4 '' thick to make a pocket. Using a reverse flush trim router bit, router out a hole in the template ( make sure template is elevated off the floor to allow clearance for the router bit once it cuts thru the template).

Cut a piece of 1 1/2 '' x 1 1/2 '' stock to length to fit in the opening, Note: don't forget to label every piece, it makes it so much easier come installation time.

Step 5: Pre- Assemble in the Shop

Once all the shelf pieces are made, position them all onto the template on the floor of the shop. Note : where ever two pieces of shelves come together ( on any butt joint ) fasten a cleat ( 3/4 '' x 1 1/2 '' x 6'' long ) to the shelf to lock the position of the shelf that would butt into it.

Because this is a giant puzzle of sorts, it has to be installed in a specific order. To achieve this take the unit apart on the floor ( I started at the top and worked my way down ) keeping track of the order so when it's time to install, just reverse the order.

Prior to installation all the pieces were pre-finished with a light white wash stain.

Step 6: Installation of All the Wall Cleats

The wall that the unit was to be attached to was a standard stud wall that was first covered with 1/2 '' plywood and then covered with 1/4'' fir sheets. So when it came time to fasten the cleats to the wall I did not have to make sure I was screwing directly into a stud.

When it came time to install the first step was to position my five sheets of mdf up against the wall ( temporarily screwing them to the wall in locations behind where the shelves would be located. Next I glued and screwed the 1 1/2 " x 1 1/2 '' cleats to the wall. The mdf template was the removed leaving the cleats on the wall.

From there on it was just a matter of positioning, gluing and clamping each piece of the shelf in reverse order from disassembly in the shop. In a few locations I used pocket screws ( always hidden ) to pull some of the shelves to the wall.

Step 7: Conclusion

This bookshelf was by far one of the most challenging and enjoyable units I have ever been asked to build. I hope you can use some of the techniques and procedures in your future projects!

I had an opportunity to see the unit with a finished cushion on the bench and books on the shelves, Oh and 30 + bottles of wine scattered about! Not only can you rest and read a book but you don't have to go far to have a drink ; )


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