What A Borders Bookshelf Taught Me About DIY

It’s been an interesting weekend at our household. A few weeks back, we had purchased a large, double-sided bookcase from one of the Borders close-out sales. After we quickly realized our current loft configuration wouldn’t accommodate the shelving behemoth, we embarked on a plan to completely rearrange and declutter our loft. That part? No problem. The shelf? A totally different story.
Lesson 1: Measure, measure, measure!
While shopping the close-out sale, I had my heart set on one of the huge magazine racks from the newsstand/periodical area. After closely studying it, I realized there was No. Way. we’d get it up and into our place.
Plan B? A bookcase. It was one of the taller ones, but better for us, I thought–more shelving room. I made a couple of cursory measurements to note the width, made the purchase, and moved on.
Flash forward a few weeks. After a temporary truck rental and some major heavy lifting on my husband’s part, we got the shelf to the basement of our loft. And that’s where we encountered the first huge problem: the shelf was too tall for the elevator, and given its weight, there was no way we could lift and maneuver it up three flights of stairs.

Lesson 2: Be ready to improvise. Many times.
Not to be deterred, my husband suggested dismantling the shelf, a process much easier said than done. After borrowing a power drill, he took off the sides, only to realize the bottom had been glued on. A couple purposeful swings of the hammer, and the bookshelf was officially in pieces–albeit whole, usable pieces.
Our bookshelf-related excitement peaked yesterday afternoon, only to be replaced by anger, sweating and some minor injuries. I’ll save you the drama to let you in on a little secret: the shelf probably wasn’t meant to be disassembled and put back together.
So keep that tip in mind when you’re shopping a close-out sale. Measure everything multiple times, and make sure you can get the piece into your home. And on the off-chance that you can’t, or you want it anyway, realize that retail fixtures are not designed to go apart and back together. They’re sturdy, they’re strong, and they’re built to stay in one place.
Want to know how this all turned out? So do we. The shelf is now standing, but it’s crooked (the work in progress appears as the lead photo in this post.) In a flash of inspiration before we fell asleep last night, Rob realized that the shelf sides weren’t only screwed into the supports–they were glued, too. Tonight we’ll be taking off the sides, reattaching them with wood glue, to be followed by the screws once the glue is fully dried. Hopefully that fixes the problem, or else we’ve got a $150 pile of firewood. Lesson(s) learned, right?
Now I’m curious to know what project helped you learn some important DIY lessons. Feel free to share your experience in the comments!

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