Home > Blogroll > To Build a Bookshelf

To Build a Bookshelf

February 2nd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

On Saturday, I tackled a project I’ve been planning for a couple of weeks: building bookshelves for under the windows in our bedroom.  I wanted to do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. The space under the windows is a bit odd, and I didn’t want to have to try to find shelves that would fit.
  2. Even if I did find shelves that fit, they’d probably be expensive or really poor quality.  And I’d have to deal with either bringing them home from the store or having them shipped.
  3. Bookshelves are probably the simplest woodworking project imaginable.
  4. It’s fun to make things yourself!

I had drawn up the designs last week and figured out more or less what I needed at the hardware store, so getting the materials went quite smoothly.  Having a well thought out plan was key in not having to run back for more supplies or buying too much.  Dore and I found all of the pieces that I needed at the hardware store, as well as a couple of new tools that I didn’t have.  We had the store cut the shelving to the right lengths, which saved me a bunch of time, not to mention getting rid of the need to buy a saw that will just take up space.

So after running around the hardware store for about an hour we headed back home to get to work.  I got set up outside in my “shop” (aka the communal table outside our apartment) while Dore got ready to go to lunch with our friend Maria.

It took a while to get my bearings, but everything seemed pretty straightforward.  It’s a bookshelf, for goodness sakes; there’s really not that much to it.  I used 1×10 pine lumber for the shelves, which had the advantage of being cheap, but the down side is that you have a lot of knots and blemishes to work around.  I spent a bit of time agonizing over which piece should go where, but finally got it sorted out.

The initial build went pretty well, and I was moved along pretty nicely with the sides of the shelves.  When I got to mounting the shelves on the sides, however, I did have some trouble because I didn’t account for how I was going to nail and screw everything together.  With the shelves in place I realized that I actually needed to be careful about the order that things went together so that  I would have enough work room.  (Think of trying to drill in screws with only 8 inches of work space… yuck.)    I took a while, but I finally sorted out the exact order of operations.

Dore helped with the final steps of putting everything together, and we finished up about 5:30.  The final book shelves were not the prettiest I’ve ever seen, but they aren’t bad.  They are level and pretty square, so I’m going to call it a success, even if the shelves aren’t quite tall enough.  If I do build similar shelves again there are a couple of things I would do differently:

  1. I put the top shelves on differently than the other shelves, and this led to problems.  Mainly the top board is a bit warped, and I wasn’t able to line everything up perfectly on top.
  2. Make the shelves taller!  I ended up with shelves that are just slightly shorter than a standard-height hardback novel.  Bummer.

Being able to put some more of our junk away was a major benefit of this project.  We got through another three or four boxes, and now we’re almost completely done unpacking.  Hooray!  But more on that later.

Oh, by the way… the whole project ran about $90 for the wood and hardware and about $45 for the tools that I didn’t already have.  Designing took about an hour, and build time was about 5 hours.  (A lot of the build time was due to not having done this before.)  I did not stain the shelves yet; that’s a project for another weekend.

Categories: Blogroll Tags:
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.