I think I make life more complicated by building things myself. I come up with the most convoluted ways of doing things because I am still new to building, and self taught to boot. Nonetheless, I get it done and the finished product is usually the exact vision I had. My latest project was figuring out how to build a bookcase.
My 8 year old has very specific taste. I don’t know where she gets it! We are mid makeover in her room and she wanted the dimensions of her bookcase to be exactly the way she wanted it. So off I went to build a bookcase and make her book storage dreams come true.
The dimensions for this bookcase are 36.5″H x 38.75″W x 14.25″D. Like I said, this was very specific to her instruction.
Onto the bookcase. I will tell you as I do with all my plans, I’m not a professional. I am merely showing you how I did this. Please ask questions and get help when necessary. Don’t go solely by my measurements because 1/16″ off of one measurement can throw the entire project off if you don’t account for the change.
- Dust Mask
- Ear Plugs
- Eye Protection
- Miter Saw
- Circular Saw
- Orbital Sander
- Tape Measure
- Speed Square
- 120 and 220 grit sandpaper
- Kreg Jig I have a K5
- Wood Glue
- 1- 4×8 sheet of hardwood plywood, I use Purebond because they don’t use formaldehyde
- Cut to 33.5″Hx35.5″W
- 3- 1×12 boards
- Cut 2 shelves at 37″
- Top 35.5″
- Sides 2- 33.5″
- Bottom 35.5
- Inside pieces to support the shelves were cut as follows: 2 – 10″ 2- 11.75″ 2- 11.5″ based on the desired shelf height.
- 6- 2×2 boards
- Cut as frames for top 2- 38.75″ 2- 14.25″
- Frame for each side- 2- 35″ 1- 14.25″
- Bottom- 2- 35.5″
- Shelf faces cut to 35.5″
I warned you that I do things in a convoluted fashion, right? Well, I hadn’t completely wrapped my brain around how I would build this until I started building it. I wish I could use Sketch Up to perfectly map out my plans but it gives me a headache and I just can’t figure out how to use it. Maybe I will, someday.
The first piece I put together was the top because I knew how I was going to do that. I wanted to use solid boards, not plywood, but off the shelf wood wasn’t going to happen for more than 12″ wide. Reference daughter dearest’s dimensions and you can see, that won’t cut it. She has books that are 13″ wide. How would they fit? Where would they go? If you haven’t realized, I have Belle as a daughter, she wants All The Books! My remedy for the 12″ shortcoming: Add a 2×2 boarder around the 12″ wood to make it than much wider. Ta Da!
I cut the 1×12″ to 35.5″ long. Then, using the 2×2, I cut a frame with 45° mitered corners to fit perfectly around it.
I used my Kreg Jig to drill a substantial amount of holes in the 1×12 to hold that 2×2 on for dear life.
I glued and screwed.
This is what I ended up with.
This is the top view. I wanted the top to be flush with the 2×2 so that it gave the bookcase a more hefty feel. No wimpy, wimpy, wimpy bookcases here. This is a great way to get the look of a bigger piece of wood, without the cost.
Next, I made each side using the same method as the top, except I didn’t add the mitered corners on the top and didn’t add a 2×2 at the top. This is because I was attaching it to the 2×2 on the existing piece I had just completed.
I had to add pocket holes, just the same though because the side was being attached to the existing 2×2 at the top. I added pocket holes to the 2x2s on the sides to secure them to the top 2×2 as well. This is the bookcase upside down. I attached it flush on the outside.
So I made myself a little table :0
To complete the box, I had to make the bottom. This time, I only had to use the 1×12 and two 2×2 sides. Straight cuts on both sides, no mitered cuts for this part.
My Kreg clamps helped me through this job. I love my Kreg clamps. The 10″ face clamp is perfect for clamping large pieces of wood. It is important to clamp each joint so you can keep the adjoining board even. The right angle clamp is great for pocket holes because it holds wood together while you screw it all together.
I attached the bottom piece and had myself a box. I used my clamps as a second set of hands to hold the bottom in place while I screwed it.
Now it was time for the shelves.
I warned you that this is convoluted.
I initially was just going to fill the pocket holes and paint it with the inset 1×12 on the inside. I attached the 1×12 shelves with pocket hole screws so they sat nicely between the 2x2s. But once this was done I felt like it just wasn’t finished looking.
Having that inset gave about an extra inch of shelf space but it just lost something in translation. So I used some left over 1x12s to fill the gaps between the shelves and make the shelves better supported and look nicer.
Can you see the difference? Above the shelf has the inset and looks a little wimpy, under the shelf has the extra 1×12 simply glued into place and clamped overnight while it dried.
After all the shelves were in place, I glued 2x2s to the front of the shelves to give them a more substantial look.
The only piece left was the plywood back. I used a circular saw to cut the plywood to size and drilled pocket holes all along the perimeter. I won’t place it permanently until it is painted, but I will use 1.25″ Kreg screws to attach it when it’s time.
A little wood putty, sanding and caulking to make it look just right, and that was that.
Here is the finished product.
Can’t wait to show you the paint idea my daughter had! You can see the wonderful paint job this baby got right here.