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DIY Demolition: Battle of the Bookshelves

For someone who loves books as much as I do, a project involving the destruction of potentially useful bookshelves may seem a little strange. 

The bookshelves in question were some of the items abandoned by my sister’s former tenants, and while they could be functional, she has no use for them.  For the most part they are just taking up space, aren’t particularly attractive, and look dangerous.

With some extra time to spare this afternoon, I decided to help out and started taking one apart. I figured that it couldn’t be too hard, and I would be done in a matter of minutes.  Apparently my sense of time and difficulty in relation to home improvement projects is a little skewed, as my “easy” project turned into something that occupied half of my afternoon.

Upon first look, the monstrous shelves looked like something I could have made back in middle school industrial arts, so I grabbed my handy electric screwdriver and a hammer and got started.

Halfway finished with demolition… It was around this point that I started to worry how I was going to manage taking the last pieces apart without hurting myself or breaking something.

I wasn’t really concerned about taking any safety precautions, as I thought it would be just a matter of removing some nails and screws, then the pieces would simply slide out-of-place. It wasn’t until I dropped a newly removed board on my foot that I realized flip-flops probably weren’t the best footwear for the project. Luckily, the board only fell a short distance and the rubber strap of my shoe took most of the impact– for once I escaped near danger without a scratch.

I was only worried that I had maybe started something I shouldn’t have for a few minutes, and that was when I realized I had no idea how I was going to manage removing the top piece safely by myself. I ended up grabbing a rickety kitchen chair and somehow was able to maneuver the heavy bookshelf to a more manageable position on the floor.

Unfortunately, by then I had already removed some of the nails holding the top in place on one side, so it was a matter of dumb luck getting it where I wanted without completely falling apart in the process.

Starting the project today might not have been the best idea, as no one else was around to help me in the event of a major accident, so I was very excited once I had a pile of boards and could say the project was done.


There are still three others around the house, but I decided to wait for assistance for any further demolition projects. I learned a couple of valuable lessons today as a result of my self-assigned project. Most importantly, flip-flops are not acceptable footwear when working with heavy objects, followed by making sure someone else is around in case you reach a point where having help is necessary. Next time I will be more prepared when starting similar projects.

Even though I didn’t “create” anything, I still felt a sense of accomplishment at being able to start and finish a project in one afternoon without needing to ask for help from anyone.


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