The old cinder block and tread board bookshelf
In a day or two (hopefully!!), the PODS containing nearly all of our belongings will arrive at our home in Burlington, Ontario. We're praying that everything inside each of the 16 ft. containers will still be intact when we open the doors.
In one of those PODS are all of my books. They are packed into twenty-nine 2ft. x 2ft. x 2ft. boxes. The truth is I don't really have that many books. If my database is up to date (I believe it is), I have 1000 books, give or take 20 or so. [NB: for perspective, my PhD mentor has around 20,000 books, so...] Regardless, I need bookshelves on which to put these books when they arrive. I spent some time shopping around and very quickly became dismayed by just how much bookcases cost. Now, I can't have those cheaply-constructed bookcases like you find at Walmart, Target, or Ikea--you know, the kind with shelf boards that bow under the weight of real books. But, the problem is that good, solid shelves are running $200+. That doesn't work for me.
So, I decided to DIY it.
No, I didn't go buy nice lumber and fabricate my own bookcases. I don't have the tools, the time, or the desire to do something that cool... well, maybe the desire, but not the tools or the time. And that approach would be costly, too. So I thought back to my college days when we made bookshelves with cinder blocks and boards. I grabbed a sheet of paper and my pencil, sat down, and sketched out basically what I wanted. From that sketch, I determined how many cinder blocks and boards I would need, and then I jumped on the Home Depot website (Canada version), and ordered 16 blocks and 10 stairway tread boards. The 7.5" x 7.5" x 15.5" blocks are heavy and rough enough that they provide strength and stability, and they resist sliding around on the tread boards. I opted for tread boards because they are 1.125" thick, 10" deep, and 36" long. They are super sturdy and durable, and they have a rounded front edge. The cost of these materials was $258. Now, before anyone objects and claims that I didn't save any money, let me just say that I basically got two shelves for the price of what one decent bookcase would have cost me from Walmart, Ikea, or Amazon. And it was all available today.
As we were finishing lunch, I received the email from Home Depot that my order was ready for pickup. I loaded it all in the back of the Santa Fe (she took the weight of it pretty well, I think) and brought it home. I carried it all to the basement (I got a good workout as an added benefit of the project), and set it up right away.
If I cared more, I would have bought some paint and painted the blocks and the boards. But as I mentioned, it's set up in a basement office where few people will actually see it (except, perhaps, in the background of my Zoom calls, but I can blur my background); moreover, I was not after pretty, I was after strong and functional. That said, I can always take a weekend later on in the Fall to dress it up a bit if I change my mind (or if Celeste changes my mind🙂). Anyway, here it is in all of its rough, unfinished glory:
I like it. Before I start stacking books on it, I will probably turn the bottom center and bottom right blocks around; the other side of each of them is cleaner. Or, I might not. I should also mention that these shelves will in no way hold all of my books, but the ones I use the most should fit just fine. Also, I have wall space for another shelf (half of one of these) if I need more shelves.
Now for the PODS to arrive!