Safeco BOOKCASE pic

Safco® Square-Edge Veneer Bookcase, Adjustable Shelves, 84″H x 36″W x 12″D, Walnut

Pros: This seven-foot-tall bookcase satisfies me in my finished basement’s foyer.

Cons: Lacks some of the cachet of custom-made or solid-wood cabinetry. Price seems a bit high. Requires a fair amount of assembly (but a mere screwdriver – plus a hammer or rubber mallet – is all that’s needed).



“Vertically speaking,” there are four levels to my suburban Kansas City house, with two of my three “man caves” being upstairs (on the second and third floors). But the finished half of the basement became particularly compelling once I finished converting it into a “classical music library and theater” in 2012. Whenever I’m about to enter the main room (whose expansive media shelving generally lies within built-in, glass-doored cabinetry), I’m initially greeted – in the little foyer – by my favorite category of “music” tomes, i.e., classical composer biographies.

Speaking here strictly of conventional, printed books (excluding my sundry “digitized” media), and counting neither my 20-volume New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians nor my roughly 120 miscellaneous reference volumes on “classical music” generally, my classical-composer-biographies collection encompasses about 260 titles – 206 of which reside within the subject of this review:


As of this writing, this Safco product remains available via various vendors, including – via which I ordered my specimen in 2012 for $264.99 (including shipping, and factoring a “$25-off” coupon code). That price seemed steep to me, considering that this was, after all, a “veneered” bookcase (albeit an above-average one). Even so, since its color, configuration and dimensions (84″H x 36″W x 12″D) were ideal for my purpose, I reckoned its cost tolerable.

This bookcase has seven shelves (not counting the top panel), and each shelf measures 34.75 by 12 by 0.75 inches. Five of the shelves are adjustable, meaning that there are many wee holes predrilled partway into the inner sides of the upright panels.

Note that Safco has also marketed this product in different veneer colors than “walnut” (e.g., “cherry,” “mahogany,” “medium oak” and “light oak”). Also note that this “walnut” version’s actual hue isn’t exactly the traditional “dull/medium brown” that you might expect; instead, there’s not only a tasteful degree of glossiness but also an agreeable trace of reddishness almost suggesting a “mahogany” aesthetic; nonetheless, my specimen’s level of reddishness is subdued enough to be aptly termed “walnut” (not “mahogany,” much less “cherry”). However, it is significantly darker than what the above product image conveys. [This unexpected outcome actually delighted me, because my foyer’s adjacent décor dictates – ideally – just such a dark-walnut hue (instead of the merely “medium” walnut shown above).]

It could be easily argued that this affordable bookcase is a big step down from my music library’s other (mostly built-in or specialized) cabinetry, much of which was fashioned of solid, walnut-stained oak. Even so, I remain satisfied with this Safco product [whose uncomplicated style is dubbed “Traditional”], which still makes for an appealing display of the bulk of my composer biographies.

Since such (mostly hardbound) volumes are collectively quite weighty, I needed this three-foot-wide bookcase’s shelves to incorporate not the cheapest grade of “composite” wood but rather a suitably stout grade not prone to warping. And I’m pleased to report that all seven shelves – after two full years of constant use – still look precisely horizontal.

To assemble this bookcase you’ll need merely a Philips screwdriver and perhaps a rubber mallet (for tapping 18 wee wooden dowels into predrilled holes).

Assembly involved the following hardware: 12 cams; 18 wood dowels; 24 little screws (to attach the large, single-piece back panel); and eight screw posts. Since I disdain rushing such work, it took me at least an hour to finish the chore.

I never discovered the exact weight of this bookcase from any provided documentation, but it’s certainly rather heavy and bulky for a single person to move. So, I placed four furniture-moving “sliders” (available at hardware stores) beneath its bottom corners prior to scooting it across the main room’s carpeting to the adjoining foyer.

I arranged the adjustable shelves such that all seven of this bookcase’s tiers ended up appearing about equally tall (with actual heights ranging from 9.75 to 11 inches). And since the depth of this bookcase is 12 inches, any of its shelves could house any but my most oversized tomes.

Safco states that each shelf has a weight-bearing capacity of 100 pounds. Each board’s internal “composite wood” appears to be appropriately high-quality and extremely strongly compressed. The outer, veneered surface looks to be a suitably hard, durable, moisture-resistant, thin layer whose exact nature I couldn’t discover. In any case, I like the slightly glossy look and feel of it.

The upshot is that I remain content with the overall aesthetic and functionality of this “walnut” bookcase in my music library’s foyer. After two full years I’ve encountered no problems whatsoever with this product’s durability.

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