It’s a familiar device in cinema across all genres from Gothic horror to slapstick comedy to murder mysteries. A scuffle between the bad guy and the good guy starts in a library or just in any old room with a nice set of bookcases filled to bursting with heavy tomes. The good guy is beaten down and it looks like it’s all over for our hero until the two fighters thump into a bookshelf. Naturally it falls and the protagonist just manages to dive out of the way whilst the villain is crushed underneath a heavy piece of furniture, killed by fate and his own violent nature. A fitting end for a designated Bad Guy.
Whilst very few deaths are caused by falling furniture in real life, any tall, heavy object without a broad base will be prone to instability. Bookcases fit that description perfectly. Many of us have encountered a wobbly one once or twice, especially in our student years when cheap, overstuffed bookcases were the norm.
No good cabinet should wobble and they certainly should never fall over. The movies are quite right- it can be extremely dangerous. At best a falling bookshelf will probably break and certainly leave a huge mess. At worst it can be fatal, especially to small children. Little kids have a tendency to try and climb on any piece of furniture with no idea what the consequences may be.
It’s not difficult to make bookshelves safe. The best and simplest thing to do is use wall fixings to attach the body of the case to the wall behind it. Properly installed, wall fixings are very effective and go a long way towards guaranteeing stability. Choosing a unit with a backboard will also make it more stable. It’s also a good idea to load your bookshelves with the large, heavy hardbacks towards the bottom and lighter novels or knick-knacks at the top.