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Home Earthquakes Properly Securing Bookcases and Shelves

Properly Securing Bookcases and Shelves

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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.
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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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