I want to build bookshelves in groups on pistons to maximize a smaller space. Do I need to make each bookshelf independent or, what are the most logical groupings for low, middle and high enchantments?

  • If you're feeling lazy you could always just build the full arrangement and block the bookshelves with torches when you want lower enchantments.
    – LTPro
    Commented Aug 3, 2013 at 9:14

2 Answers 2


An enchantment table uses up to 15 bookshelves. You can produce all counts up to 15 by using groups of 1, 2, 4, and 8 bookshelves; the combinations of these are just binary numbers.

Here's a nice symmetric pattern for the groups, if you like that sort of thing.

8   8
2 T 2
8   8
48 84

Here's my own build of that pattern, with the 8-bookshelf group deployed. (In case you're wondering about the dark/sunlit aspect, I usually have a ring of slabs on top to prevent spawning, but it hides the pattern so I removed it for this picture.)

Here's a few pictures of the wiring for controlling the groups. I removed a casing around the pistons which prevents light from getting up into the room (that one upper-slab is needed to avoid cutting a wire).

This picture shows the topmost set of torches controlling the pistons, and the wires to the 1 group and half of the 4 group:

enter image description here

Here is the other side of the 4 group.

enter image description here

The 8 group is the most complex as it needs a lot of branching. It is fed from low in the center. There's redstone on top of the 4 sandstone blocks the repeaters are feeding into, which is what controls the pairs of torches at each corner which are directly under the top ring.

The extra repeater on the left of center is just to produce an aesthetic delay in the order the bookshelves rise.

enter image description here

The 2 group just cuts across the center of the top ring like -->█---█ using a repeater to cross the first torch block.

Every sandstone block in the pictures is either supporting a redstone element or carrying a signal; stone blocks are just the floor and walls.

On the other hand, if you just want an ultra-compact system with less underground wiring, another configuration is to run a single redstone wire around a ring of pistons, and then use variable signal strengths — the signal dies out at some point before reaching all the pistons, so the signal strength at the input directly sets the number of extended pistons.

However, it's tricker to make a small control interface for this: the simplest is a row of 15 separate levers (all spaced out along the input wire), which you toggle only one of.


If you seek to create an easily controllable setup to get varying maximum enchantment levels, removing bookshelves is not the only way, another is to block them.

Enchantment table detects a supporting bookshelf if there are air blocks between them. Hence you can easily control how many bookshelves affect your enchanting table by placing and collecting torches. (Or raising cakes with pistons. Cakes sap magic energies, true story.)

Lower bookshelves require lower block to be air, higher bookshelves require both blocks, on the foot level and head level, to be air. Horizontal dependencies are as follows (capital letters are shelves, small letters are air blocks that control those shelves):

A  A  B  C  C
A  a  b  c  C
H  h [x] d  D
G  g  f  e  E
G  G  F  E  E

Below are "weights" of air blocks, i.e. number of possible shelves a given air block connects to the table:

Lower level    Upper level
  6  2  6        3  1  3
  2 [x] 2        1 [x] 1
  6  2  6        3  1  3

By arranging your bookshelves in a certain way, you can make your enchantment area easily and precisely controlled by several torches. Taking Kevin Reid's correctly proposed combination of 8, 4, 2 and 1 shelves, something like the following can be done (controlled entirely by ground-level torches):

SS 6  2  4  S
SS 2 [x] 1  S
  • But pistons are cool! Most activities in Minecraft are "suboptimal" if survival is the goal. ;) (Optimal survival: craft tools and grab one sapling and one seed, dig a hole, build an underground farm, never leave.) Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 16:37
  • 2
    @SevenSidedDie Who said one cannot use piston-powered cakes instead of torches to suppress bookshelves? "Enchantment powers are too strong! Crew, raise cake rods into the active enchantment zone to suppress magic reactions!"
    – Orc JMR
    Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 17:30
  • Exactly! Cake is perfect for this. Commented Jul 30, 2013 at 17:32

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