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Choosing a wooden bookshelf starts with determining your needs, budget, and aesthetic concerns. You will need to decide how large a bookshelf you will need, and whether that size of wooden bookshelf will fit in the space in which you intend to place it. Larger shelves will cost more than smaller ones, and shelves made from high-quality wood will also cost more than less desirable materials such as particleboard. Think about what color, design, and shape of wooden bookshelf will suit your aesthetic needs as well to determine the shelf that will work best for your purposes.
The woods available for construction of a wooden bookshelf range from the very inexpensive and simple to the very expensive and visually appealing. If you are looking for a budget model that will not cost you much money, you can choose particleboard or low-end woods such as some types of pine, though you will sacrifice strength and aesthetic appeal. Particleboard is the weakest wooden material, as it is not solid, and it is usually the least visually appealing as well, since it is often covered with a faux-wood layer. It is, however, the least expensive option.
Generally speaking, hardwoods and visually appealing woods are more expensive. Cedar and teak are very common choices for construction of a wooden bookshelf because these woods are naturally attractive and require little or no finishing processes. These woods are also resistant to water damage such as rot or mold build-up, so the shelves are likely to last a long time. Mahogany, oak, and walnut are also common choices because these woods tend to be durable and attractive. Some of these woods have a very prominent grain that can be accented to increase the visual appeal of the bookshelf.
You will need to consider the construction of the shelf as well. Even if a wooden bookshelf is made from good materials, shoddy construction can make the shelf a poor investment. Inspect all joints and note how the shelves are secured to the walls of the bookshelf. The shelf should not wobble when forced, especially when loaded down with weight from books. This could cause a safety hazard and lead to further damage to the shelf or its contents. If you are considering an antique bookshelf that wobbles, be sure to budget for refurbishing costs that can remedy the structural issues.