I have enchanting table with bunch of bookshlves around (5x5x2 square with door). Now I want to make some level 1 enchantments. How to temporary disable bookshelves (preferably by some mechanism)?


If you don't want to set up a Sticky Piston system to retract and extend the Bookshelves, you can place a torch or place water in the area where the Bookshelves are. For some reason, this disables all of the Bookshelves and makes the Enchanting Table act as if there aren't any Bookshelves around it.

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    Red3yz has a mechanism for this: youtube.com/watch?v=6xLR1OO_D88#t=1m14s – Pumpuli Dec 25 '11 at 18:42
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    It's because wet books don't work that well – Nick T Dec 25 '11 at 18:59
  • Any block (including water) between the table and the shelves prevents them from contributing. Another popular choice is torches. – Ben Blank Dec 25 '11 at 23:06
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    or you could just bring the enchanting table outside – ProSay Dec 27 '11 at 9:10

The only way I can think of is through the use of sticky pistons that can push or pull some bookshelves out of the way. You can control the whole thing through a system of levers.

Keep in mind that only the 5x5x2 wall is checked, so pulling any shelves out of that area will "disable" them.

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    I thought it checks only 5x5x2, at least that is what wiki says – Poma Dec 25 '11 at 18:20
  • Nice idea but it seems i'll need lots of sticky pistons for that. Maybe placing something between shelves and table is easier? – Poma Dec 25 '11 at 18:21
  • @Poma: You are correct about the dimensions, that was a typo. As for the pistons, yes, but slimeballs are fairly easy to obtain with a farm. Also, this is a better solution in some cases since it can disable the shelves selectively. – Alexis King Dec 25 '11 at 20:05
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    I'll stick with Red3yz's mechanism. It also can turn off bookshelves selectively and requires only 7 non-sticky pistons (if sand or gravel is placed on top). I prefer simple solutions :) – Poma Dec 26 '11 at 10:56

As Jake King suggested, you can use sticky pistons, and I've made a video to explain (made it before the first answer, but it was uploading too long).

It isn't that hard, you'll need a piston for every bookshelf, so it's 30 pieces. The tricky part is to get 30 slimeballs, but you can farm them. If you are okay to use an utility - you can find it here, but if you aren't - just explore some caves close to the bedrock and remember the place, where you have seen any slimes. They spawn in certain 16x16 chunks, so you'll have to dig out a big ~32x32 room somewhere between levels 10-40, they'll spawn there eventually. Good video tutorial and text tutorial.

UPD: I've upgraded my system. Nothing complicated, but it gives access to any enchantment level (not just the lowest and the highest). Still uses 30 pistons, but I'm an aesthete and I don't like how other solutions look/work.


A lot of people here presented some very nice designs and ideas that only fall short in one of two categories:

  1. not being a redstone-based solution, or...
  2. not being flexible in the number of bookshelves you may activate. (I.e., not allowing every possible number 0 through 15.)

I feel it's necessary to point out that you can, using ONLY 4 levers, activate any number of bookshelves desired. Taking inspiration from binary, try a design like this:

  • Lever 1 powers a piston to activate 1 bookshelf.
  • Lever 2 powers piston(s) to activate 2 bookshelves.
  • Lever 3 powers piston(s) to activate 4 bookshelves.
  • Lever 4 powers piston(s) to activate 8 bookshelves.

For every number n, 0 through 15, there exists some combination of the numbers 1, 2, 4, and 8 such that their sum is equal to n.

Happy crafting.

  • I think you may be answering the wrong question. This one is very specifically about disabling bookshelves entirely. You might want to consider submitting this answer to this question about flexible bookshelf mechanisms instead, although note your general idea has already been implemented in this answer there. – SevenSidedDie Oct 26 '13 at 1:58
  • Right, I was just presenting a more flexible solution for this question. – sleeparrow Oct 26 '13 at 16:51

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