Per previous post, I’ve been thinking about how to make a bookcase that didn’t look like ‘just another bookcase’ – ideally with an art deco type feel. Jim left a message on that post noting that understandably what was clear in my head wasn’t quite as clear when described. To get my own thoughts clear I thought I’d sketch it out (and it made me realise that I’m not doing nearly enough sketching at the moment – I’ve got very sloppy). So here you go :-
Key features are a pair of support towers, made of polished metal, and modelled at least for now on the Chrysler building in New York. Both have 3 or 4 glass display shelves inside them. We’ve got some delicate things that we’d like to have out so we can see them, but which we fear getting broken. The shelves are supported from a parabolic beam that runs across near the tops of the towers, and this also carries the rail on which the ladder hooks. Again, done in polished metal – probably water jet cut stainless steel, which allows a pretty intricate design. The shelves are wood, and hang from the beam on thin vertical supports, so that the horizontals are the dominant visual feature. This also allows the ends to be curved around, so avoiding the hard corner, and sticking with the art deco look.
The vertical supports are ironically something that looks simple, actually quite hard to suss out. They need to very accurately space out the shelves, and take a fairly large load. This is not a trivial engineering issue, and in my mind are the issues of the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse which killed almost 200 people (see here) – obviously, I’d just lose some books, but nevertheless, I don’t want to start if I don’t know I can finish. I have two options in my mind at the moment. One is to use high tensile steel wires, and roll them around a bobbin that is captive in the bottom of each shelves. This would be visually great, but the bobbins could be hard to restrain well. A variant is to use separate wires for each shelf, with the wires for lower shelves running through holes in the upper ones – this might be ideal, but could get a bit busy near the top where there could be 8 pairs of wires. But, it would allow adjustment screws to be hidden in the top structure (think of guitar tuning screws). The second option is to use stainless round stock cut precisely to the right length, with threaded inserts that go through each shelf. The shelves then sit on the bars which are hanging on the studs going into the bars above. This second was my favourite, but the more I muse, the more I think that the steel wires is the way to go.
A dare say that this will go through a fair few more revisions before I’m happy. If anyone has any useful thoughts, and/or cool ideas then please leave a comment. And, don’t worry if they feel impossible – those are the ones I like!