CD Shelving Units – Mitigating Disappointment

Well, I’ve learned a lot about building shelving, but the harshest lesson came at the end.  I learned two things:  100 CDs are very heavy and 1/2″ plywood will not hold such weight at a 4′ span.  Not entirely sure why I expected that anything would be rigid at a 4 foot length, but I guess I figured 1/2″ is definitely better than 1/4″, and there’s no way I’m making shelves out of 3/4″, so that should be solid.  It wasn’t.  This was the result of loading my 1,700 CDs in my shelves:


Every shelf is bowed, some dramatically and worrisomely.  In the unit’s predecessor, the MegaBenno, I had bowing also, but that was due more to the unevenness of the center support blocks.  So then, what are my options for resolving this?

  1. I can fit 5.5″ supports in the middle of each span.  I have two lengths of 3/4″ that I can cut down to make this happen.  I’m not in favor of this because it will break up the long spans of shelf, which is why I made two 4′ units to begin with.
  2. I can secure each shelf to the wall with an L bracket.  This will certainly be secure, but man, that’s 26 holes in the wall.  And if I ever want to relocate the units, that’s a lot of patching.  Plus, I would have to buy 26 brackets.  However, no painting, so it could be done quickly, especially since I wouldn’t have to unload the entire unit.
  3. I can install a back on the unit and secure the shelves to the back, which is similar to securing it to the wall.  The problem with that solution is that is a lot of wood: 8’x8′.  Plus I would have to paint it all.

Weighing my options, I think I can do this in progressively more extreme steps until the problem is solved.  As it happens, I have extra shelves left over.  I can use those to create a partial back as planned in option 3.  I’ll just make a strip down the middle, securing one 4′ shelf at the thick top and bottom shelves with screws, then using the nail gun to secure the strip to each shelf.  However, this will increase the depth of the units by 1/2″ – and only in the center.  On the plus side, the wood is already painted, so I can implement this very quickly.  If that plan doesn’t work out, I’ll probably go with option 1 and paint and cut down the 3/4″ wood into vertical supports.

The most difficult part of all of this improvement is going to be unloading and reloading the CDs from the shelves.  But, to focus on the positive, the shelves do have a lot of capacity, so I have significant room to grow the collection.