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His books are heavy, his shelves are strong, expandable.

His books are heavy, his shelves are strong, expandable

A heavy reader of heavy books, Paul Saffo of Menlo Park, California, needed a good place to keep his expanding ethnography collection. He wanted a modular system that was durable but inexpensive.

The usual softwood planking sold for shelving didn't seem adequate to hold big hardbound books without warping. The solution was an unusual use of a common material--vertical-grain, bull-nose stair stepping. The round-nosed boards are a generous 1 inch thick, with essentially clear grain that needs only a light sanding and an oil finish for a rich appearance. Although fir stepping usually runs $3 to $4 a linear foot, Mr. Saffo shopped around until he found a lumberyard that sold it for $1.17.

Each module is an open-backed 32-inch square; shelves are 11 1/2 inches deep, the width of the stair treads. Each corner is secured with glue and three 2-inch #12 flat-head woodscrews.

On the underside of each shelf, two pairs of grooves (cut with a penknife, though you could use a router or chisel) slip over 1-inch-long 3/8-inch dowels; the dowels peg into 1/2-inch holes drilled in the side walls.

Several modules include indirect lighting to display favorite books and artifacts. In each of these, a fluorescent strip light (about $6) is screwed under a shelf and hidden by a strip of oak flooring that's glued on edge.

Photo: Simple but strong, modular bookshelves are made from bull-nose fir stair stepping. Each book in his set weighs about 3 pounds

Photo: For support, small grooves on underside of shelves fit over short lengths of dowel pegged into holes drilled in side walls
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Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Oct 1, 1984
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