OldTools Archive

Recent Bios FAQ

275051 John M. Johnston <jmjhnstn@m...> 2022‑01‑05 Re: wood movement and construction question...
James,  let me share my own experience and perspective.  In the past few years,
in two different houses, I've built several wall length floor to ceiling book
cases.  In both instances they were built on existing hardwood floors.

I hold hardwood floors in high esteem and would not consider nailing, screwing,
or bolting into them.  Further, it's not necessary for building a wall of

I began by building a 2 x 4 base frame for the shelves, leaving enough room for
a toe kick in the finished unit.  I located wall studs and nailed the wall side
of the base frame into the studs and base plate.  I then used shims under the
front edge of the base frame so that it was canted about 2-3 degrees towards the

Then I made shelf modules, each about 25" wide and as tall as I desired.   I
used big box cheap pine about 12" wide for the bottom, sides, and top of each
module, and for the shelves as well.  At the inside top of each module, I
attached a horizontal stringer anchored to the sides and top of each module.  I
then arranged each module on the 2 x 4 base frame, checked the spacing between
each module, and then screwed the bottom of each module to the base frame, and
then through the horizontal stringer at the top into the wall studs.  So the
base frame sits on the floor (gravity) is nailed to the wall studs, each module
is nailed to the base frame at the bottom, and at the horizontal stringer at the
top.  They ain't going anywhere, and the original oak floor is undefiled.

At this point it was just a matter of adding the trim:  vertical pine boards to
cover the spaces between the modules and corresponding horizontal pieces at the
top and bottom to form a face frame for the entire unit; a toe kick board to
cover the 2x4 base frame, and various mouldings to make it look nice and
finished.  It turned out well and was built with stock lumber and trim bits.  I
see your email address so I'll send you a photo to illustrate what I mean.

Hope this is helpful.


John Johnston

Recent Bios FAQ