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Home Earthquakes Properly Securing Bookcases and Shelves

Properly Securing Bookcases and Shelves


Bookcases and ShelvesIn an earthquake, items such as bookcases can topple over and cause injury or damage to other items in the room.

To secure wooden bookcases to a wall:

  • Choose between using L-brackets or Z-brackets to secure the bookcase.
  • Make sure that the location you have chosen to attach the bracket to the bookcase is strong enough to resist the significant force.
  • Bracket to bookcase
    • Pre-drill holes for No. 8 or larger woodscrews.
    • The screw should be long enough to secure the bracket to the shelf without punching through.
  • Bracket to wall
    • For wood stud walls:
      • Use 3-inch No. 8 wood screws to attach each bracket to the wall.
      • Locate the stud and attach the screws to ensure secure fastening.
    • For stone or masonry walls:
      • Place plastic anchors in the pre-drilled holes
      • Screw in 3-inch No. 8 or larger screws or consider using 3/16-inch diameter or larger masonry screws.
  • For a bookcase with a solid back:
    • Pass screws directly through the back into the wall.
    • Use washers to spread contact over a larger area between the screw and the bookcase.
    • Make sure that the back of the bookcase is attached to the shelves securely.

To secure bookcases not against a wall:
  •  Place bookcases back-to-back
  •  Attach them with No. 8 or larger machine screws, oversize washers, and nuts
  •  Make sure the screws go through the frame.
  •  Place the screws no more than 12 inches apart.

To secure items on shelves:
  • Create ledge barriers made from strips of wood, metal or plastic.
    • Cut the materials to fit the shelf
    • Attach with glue or mechanical fasteners.
    • Finish the barriers to match the shelves.
  •  Affix large, heavy items and breakables directly to the shelf.
    • Apply a hook and loop material (such as Velcro®) to the shelf and item or
    • Use museum gel or museum wax to secure the bottom of items to the top of the shelf.

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