BookShelf Nosing

By Robert Robillard on Design

Replacing Shelf Nosing

On a recent project the decorator wanted to change the existing bookshelf  nosing.   To accomplish this she simply wanted to use the existing shelves and only change out the nosing.

Purpose of Shelf Nosing

The old nosing was a 1 1/4″ oak band that was glued and nailed to the shelving. Adding a band like this adds significant strength to a shelf, acting like a beam and doubling the load carrying capacity of the shelf. Nosing also adds a visual “weight” to the shelf that is often aesthetically pleasing.

These bands prevent the shelf from sagging.   Sagging is measured in deflection, or the maximum distance in which the middle of the shelf bends as a result of weight [books] placed on the shelf.

The longer the shelf the more it will deflect, the shorter the shelf the stiffer it will be. Deflection of 1/4″ or less is a good goal when designing shelving.

In this case these shelves were plywood. Without 1 x nosing they can span approximately 34″ with minimal deflection. With 1x nosing they can span 48″.

Below I removed the old banding.

The new shelf edge was to be fabricated out of ripping an astragal molding in half.

Next, I ran the plywood through the saw to cut off the glue. doing this I made sure not ro cut off more than a 1/32 of an inch.

Gluing up the new banding on the older shelves.

Installed and awaiting the painter.

These shelves below are dangerously close to the maximum length and really should have a thicker 1 x nosing applied to stiffen them. Prior to adding this edging I advised the decorator about shelf deflection. The decorator assured me that the shelves will be for decoration and not books.

Nosing was added to a built in cabinet top.

The profile matches a molding used on the mantle to the left. Using similar moldings help ground the project and make it look well thought out.

Project complete.

Flanking bookcases

~ concord carpenter


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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