Monday, June 30, 2008

The Bookcase

We have a lot of books so one of the most troublesome things for me to figure out is where to put them all. Equally vexing is how to organize them so I can find THE book I am looking for when I need it. Having bookcases all over the house contributes to the lack of organization. And since none of my bookcases match, beyond the two here or there, they really don't work well in one room. So, I decided to build bookcases for all my books.

I have never built a bookcase before. The only thing I've ever built was a bed for my grandson. That was a success primarily due to the brackets which hold it all together. Built-in bookcases, on the other hand, would be a challenge.

I started by researching bookcase plans on the internet. I found these PLANS at Black and Decker's website. I followed the instructions for the kitchen unit closely as I could. Tried to do everything just right. When I was done, I had a very expensive built-in bookshelf. Looks great.

You can see it through the framed in wall of the pantry.

The only problem with the bookcase was that if I was going to complete the next phase, which was to build bookcases along a 16 foot stretch of wall, I couldn't afford to build it as the plans directed. The plans call for the entire unit to be made with red oak, with the exception of the sole plates which are 2 x 4's. Red oak is very expensive. So I went to work revising the plans. In the end, I chose to use a less expensive wood for the interior and for the shelves. This would have consequences during the building and later during finishing.

Here is a picture of the 16-foot wall before bookcases. Kind of bare, isn't it? I went to work. Most Fridays and half of Saturdays during April and May. Then we moved in at the end of May. I went to work on them full least as full time as my strength would allow. Carpentry is hard work and I am old, fat and out of shape. My husband, Phil, helped me with the things I physically could not do--like installing sole plates in the overhead, removing wood screws with stripped heads and stuff like that. Couldn't have done it without him. Especially when I came to the point where I discovered the wood I was using was warped and was causing the whole project to be out of alignment. He was able to muscle a couple of boards and 2 x 4's into place and shape for me. I think next time, though, I would go back to the store and buy straight wood. The warped stuff, no matter how straight it appears, is still warped. Later, when it came to making shelves, I discovered that two units were more suited to trapzoidal shaped shelves than rectangular. I ended up cutting shelves for each bookcase sized to the bookcase. This means that while the shelves are somewhat adjustable within each unit, the shelves are not suited for moving between units.

Here is a picture of the completed bookshelves. Look carefully and you can see that each upright has holes in it for the pegs that hold the shelves. I made a template out of peg board and a jig for my drill to make sure the holes are not too deep and went to work. Phil said that I drilled around 750 holes. Dang! There are a total of 27 adjustable shelves and 6 non-adjustable shelves. The fifth unit has an extra-deep non-adjustable shelf for my keyboard. The wood on the interior and from which shelves were made was the white pine 12-inch wide boards available at Lowe's and Home Depot. Doesn't matter where you buy them, just be careful to inspect for warping. Store them flat rather than on end to prevent further warping. I faced the entire unit with red oak. This gives the face of the unit a nice clean appearance that matches the kitchen unit which is just on the other side of the far right of this unit.

I'll talk about finishing the unit later.


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