Shelving & Wall Units

Parent Q&A

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  • Custom bookshelves

    (5 replies)

    Any recommendations for custom bookshelf makers locally? The project would be for a big floor to ceiling set of shelves on one wall. Trying not to break the bank with less emphasis on artistry but open to any recommendations! Thanks!

    Aaron Cronshey is terrific.  He is local and does nice, careful woodwork (furniture, cabinetry).  He is also a lovely person to work with.   We are working on a number of pieces with him right now.   Aaron [at]

    In 2019, we had two custom bookshelves made via Fenton MacLaren in Berkeley. I believe they contract out with carpenters in the area. We've been really pleased with our shelving. 

    Hi Hannah, I highly recommend Ben O'Hearn! He's an experienced wood worker, furniture maker and builder (and an all around super nice person) that does modern-style custom pieces and takes on projects like this. He's currently making me a custom desk, which I am really excited about. While Ben's webpage is down, check out his Instagram to see some of his work (peppered with lots of pictures of his daughter). If you reach out, let him know I sent you his way: I mentioned I saw this BPN post and that if he wanted, I'd share his info, which he was good... he's not on BPN. Ben's number is 510.703.0801 and his email is: Ohearn82 [at]  

    We had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves done by Frank Truncale in 2015. <soundshooter [at]> Frank was recommended to us for his design sense as well as his carpentry skills. He had great ideas and the finished built-ins looked like originals in our 1940's home and have held up well. Frank was also easy to work with! 

    fenton mclaren made shelves to my specs 23 years ago. they're simple and sturdy and still look new. 

  • We're interested in adding some built-in bookshelves to our living room. I'm having a hard time finding a carpenter who's interested in taking on a project this small and/or come to Oakland. Anyone have any recommendations? 

    Thanks in advance!

    Zeke Pratt has done both large and small jobs for me. Book cases and decks are a specialty of his. He'll be available in a couple of weeks, I think, as he is finishing up something for me now. His # is 510 289 5107. He is from a family of carpenters/contractors. They're all good.

    Try our guy, he's a very good, carpenter by trade, excellent workmanship. He takes his time and works slow but the end result is worth it if you have the patience. Andy Sanos (510) 435-6285‬ Let him know that Leanne and Justin highly recommend him and his crew! 

    I just had built-in bookshelves made by a wonderful carpenter named Greg whose website is He was very affordable, detail-oriented, and wonderful to work with! 

  • Custom bookcases - seeking recommendation

    (2 replies)

    I would like to have built-in bookcases installed on three walls of my small living room, and need help dealing with baseboard heaters and other oddities.  I don't have any relevant skills, so I would like to hire someone to build these.  I am looking for someone who is experienced, skilled, and vouched-for.  However, I can't afford to hire an expensive carpenter.  Can anyone recommend a skilled (but reasonably priced) contractor to install practical and attractive (but not fancy) shelving in my small home?  Thank you!!

    We use Lopez Carpentry. Pedro crafted new fences for our home, as well as solved some tricky interior cabinet issues that no one else could figure out. And he is (in my experience) quite affordable. Don't be put off by his somewhat laconic demeanor. He is shy but quite skilled. Pedro Lopez, (415) 259-7783 or lopez8271 [at] gmail.

    Kermit Franks of Native Sons Construction has decades of experience with built-in bookshelves 7074947786. He is works out of the east bay and north bay and has several references.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

Where to buy solid wood bookcases?

Feb 2009

We have a lot of books and now that we are in a house, we would like to get some nice, solid (non-Ikea) bookcases. The BPN listings are so old, it looks like the recommended businesses aren't around anymore. Would love some new suggestions. WoodChuck

Fenton McLaren has really nice solid book cases. Many styles. College Avenue in Oakland, and also San Pablo Ave off of Gilman st. in Berkeley (across from REI). anon

Hi there, The craftsman home on claremont has beautiful bookcases. They are arts and crafts style. Good luck. They have a great website. Lori

For nice-looking, really solidly-built furniture in the Craftsman style, I like Fenton MacLaren. They have stores on College Avenue in Oakland and San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. For the quality of the furniture, their prices are really reasonable. This is not IKEA furniture, it is furniture which you will want to keep for years. I got a really nice small craftsman-style desk there for only $700. I'm sure bookcases would be substantially less. Jim

We bought our wood book cases from Fenton MacLauren on San Pablo in Berkeley about 10 years ago and they're solid and indispensible. Good luck in your search. Here's the link: Leonora

I have purchased several solid wood bookcases over the years from Fenton MacLaren (San Pablo Ave across from REI in Berkeley). High quality, good workmanship. They have a large selection in many styles and sizes, both raw wood and various finishes. Although I haven't been there in a year or so, I would recommend them highly. satisfied customer

Nice wooden entertainment unit

Aug 2006

Hi there - I am looking for the perfect, not too expensive, nice wooden entertainment unit for our small cottage . We have lots of electronics to put in it, DVD, VCR, Replay TV, TV, Subwoofer (17''W x 20''H x 17''D) (I know, I married an audio geek!). I'd also like to hide the TV behind doors. I think custom furniture is just too expensive. So, any suggestions on good, affordable furniture places (except IKEA which I love but has terrible selection of entertainment units) will be most appreciated. I don't mind staining and finishing the wood. Cheers Mrs. Audio Geek

Try Gorman's on Broadway in Oakland for an extensive collection of unfinished furniture. In addition to what they stock they can order other items. Try also Fenton Maclaren's unfinished furniture store on San Pablo Anon

how about EQ3 at Bay Street, Emeryville, or the ''nude'' furniture place on Broadway in Oakland by the Honda dealership and 580?

Where to Buy Unfinished Bookshelf?

May 2005

We are looking for an unfinished bookshelf for our son's room. The places we have bought them previously (Busvan, Sawmill) are gone and we can't find one that is simple, but has a little more detail (slight 'header' at the top and rounded edges on the shelf) then just 4 planks nailed together. We're looking for 3 feet wide by 8 or 7 feet tall. Any suggestions? Thanks.

To the person searching for unfinished bookshelves, consider Fenton MacLaren which has several locations in the Berkeley/Rockridge area. Good luck! Eileen

Check out the Fenton MacLaren outlet on San Pablo Ave. (2575 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702. Phone 510-848-7643) They have all sizes of unfinished bookcases, so hopefully something close to what you need. We bought a simple unfinished pine dresser there for our son 2 years ago and have been pleased with it so far. JP

Gorman's, formerly of Berkeley on Telegraph, has moved into I think the old sawmill building, near Auto Row in Oakland. I have bought several bookshelves from them, made to my specifications. You can also buy standard sizes there. I had them finish my shelves, but they seem to mostly sell unfinished pieces. I have nothing but positive comments about Gorman's. anon

Where to get solid wood bookcases

Jan 2004

Where can we buy all-wood bookshelves (3-4 shelves) without having to refinance our house again? We don't want particle board, and we don't want unfinished pine that we have to paint. Any other suggestions? We are trying to fill two walls in our recreation room, so it is hard to find any used shelving for such a large area. Lori

Gorman's (used to be on Telegraph, but now is in Oakland, on Broadway; enter parking lot from Piedmont Ave) has a large selection of all-wood bookcases in a variety of different wood (not just pine). None of their bookcases have particleboard - in fact, they discontinued one supplier who had switched to it -, but the backs are plywood, and some of the models have veneered plywood shelves. They are available either unfinished, or finished for an additional charge. You can save money by putting on the finish coat yourself . Their delivery charge is very reasonable, too. RK

Try Fenton MacLaren on San Pablo in Berkeley. They've got bookshelves in finished oak, maple and cherry (I think) as well as pine, in a couple of different styles. book keeper

I really like Furniture Oasis next to the Emeryville Marketplace and its sister store, Shei Wah, on Solano in Berkeley. I have some wonderful cherry bookshelves from them which they delivered fully assembled. If you don't see what you want in the store, they can order from the many catalogs they have. The two stores are run by a very nice couple and I've enjoyed everything I've bought from them. Nancy

Shelving unit with doors for computer

December 2001

We're looking for a desk/shelving unit with doors that we can hide our computer in when not in use. Nothing ultra fancy but looks nice when closed. Can hold a 19 monitor, CPU, printer, keyboard/mouse and some other stuff like the cable modem, disks, paper, etc. We also are looking for a large a/v wall system. It needs to accomodate a 36 TV with separate center channel speaker underneath, have shelves to place the DVD, Receiver, VCR and other equipment. Plus drawers for cassettes and disks. Recessed small lights would be nice but not a must. Preferably areas to place the subwoofer and some bookshelf speakers. The key here is to have as many doors as possible so when things are not in use, they aren't visible. Even doors with sonically transparent grill cloth would be good to go over the speakers. Jonathan

We found a piece to house our PC two months ago at Evolution Furniture. It is on University Ave, between 5th and 6th, on the north side of the street. Evolution has a few buildings there. Home office - living room stuff is in the store above The Art Store. Our piece is made of cherry. It is about 5 feet 5 inches tall, about 3 feet wide and two feet deep (very rough estimates). It has doors on the top and bottom, and a pull out key board tray. They had it in stock so we didn't have to wait the usual 4 months for a nice piece of wood furniture. If you don't like what they have, I suggest that you also call Viking Trader on Shattuck in Berkeley, or Country Home on Grand Lake (?) in Oakland. I prefer to shop at the local furniture stores. If you aren't limiting yourself to locals, you might also want to take a look at what Ikea has. with all stores, remember to ask what they can order, in addition to what is shown in the store.

We bought a computer armoire about 6-8 months ago online and found that not only do we love it but we saved TONS of money. Most of the ones that had to offer what we wanted (lots of space, cubbies, holds all the computer parts/phone, etc., filing cabinet drawer, double pull out shelf for papers, keyboard and etc., closed door so kids can't get in and mess can be hidden, and on and on . . .) were anywhere from $800 - $2000 at most places or the cheaper ones were just that -- CHEAP!!! So we started searching online and I found a website where someone posted a place to try, (Advanced Furniture Outfitters, Inc.) and that's where we bought ours. We love it, it has everything to offer that we want, it looks very nice, it's extremely sturdy and it was only $399!!! We couldn't believe it! And they always have some great shipping deals (some models are free, some are $3 and some are $2 and some are $1 from time to time). It arrived in the mail about a week or so after ordering it and it's one of the best purchases we've ever made - we still feel very good about that decision and we love it -- everyone who comes over comments on the armoire and says, That's exactly what I need. Where did you get it? April

I don't know if this is kosher to talk about my business on this newsletter, but if you're interested in building a custom unit for your desk/shelving/tv wall unit, I can help you. I work as a designer for Closets by Design. We do closets (of course) but also any other kind of built-in/furniture system (entertainment centers, garages, offices, etc.). If you'd like to make an appointment for a free design consultation, call me at (510)338-0472 (that's my home number). Good Luck, Nancy

Earlier Recommendations

From: Linda (3/99)

About 5 years ago we bought shelves from Bob's Discount Wood Furniture 2078 San Pablo Ave (just S. of University) Berkeley, CA They have held up very well.

From: Leah (3/99)

I've heard that Bob's on San Pablo is the cheapest for basic bookcases. Also there's Gorman & Son on Telegraph.