Here’s a project that’s a lot easier than it may look and when completed provides a sturdy, great-looking place for your favorite books.
• It’s simple to build because all the pieces are screwed together, and store-bought moldings artfully cover the screwheads. There are no dado or dowel joints.
• After studying the measured drawing, you can adjust the length, depth or height to suit your specific needs. You can also use a different wood besides the oak or pine recommended in this project.
This bookcase gives intermediate woodworking students the opportunity to learn several important, basic skills, including measuring, cutting, marking, drilling, gluing, clamping and mitering. And after you build the bookcase, you’ll learn how to apply stains and finishes to protect the wood and keep it looking beautiful.
CUTTING AND ASSEMBLY
Refer to the project illustration shown on page 6.
1. Cut the 3/4” plywood pieces (A, B and C) to the sizes given in the
Woodworker’s Tips: Many people have trouble cutting hardwood
plywood cleanly, especially across the grain. For this bookcase,
you’ll have to master this skill, because some of the cuts will show
on the finished piece. Here are a few tricks:
• Be aware of which side of your plywood is the good side, and
keep it facing up while cutting on the table saw.
• Adjust your saw so the fence is exactly parallel to the blade, and
the miter gauge slots are exactly perpendicular to it. If not, the
blade will tear up fibers where it touches the wood behind the cut.
• For the smoothest cuts, use a 10” carbide-tipped saw blade with
60 to 100 teeth.
• If you’re still not getting clean cuts, score the cutting line deeply
with a sharp utility knife before you saw.
2. Cut the solid wood pieces (E, F, G, H, and K) a couple of inches
longer than the dimensions given, so they can be trimmed to exact
size later. Part J can be cut to the specified size now.
3. Rip part G into 1/8” strips for gluing to the front edge of pieces B
and C. Your saw blade will be close to the fence, so use a push stick
to guide the wood.
4. Glue the strips (G) to the front edges of pieces B and C using yellow
carpenter’s glue. After the glue is dry, cut or sand the strips so they’re
flush with the plywood. You can do this with a block plane or belt
sander. If you use a sander, be careful not to cut or sand through the
thin veneer of the plywood. If you’ve never tried this operation before,
you may want to experiment on some scrap plywood first. When the
strips are flush with the veneer, trim the ends with a small handsaw.
Woodworker’s Tip: Use strips of masking tape as clamps for the
edge strips. Tape is strong enough for this job and less cumbersome
than bar clamps. Apply a tape strip about every 3-4”.
5. Cut mitered ends on the 3/4” edging (H, K) that is used for the top
(A). Cut the front piece (H) first, so that the miters are exactly flush
with the corners of the plywood, then cut the side pieces (K). Clamp
them to be sure they fit, then glue. The sides can be long in back and
trimmed after the glue is dry. When the glue has dried, sand the edging
flush with the plywood.
6. Cut the profile on the edge of the top with a router, using a 1/2”
round-over bit with a pilot bearing.
7. Mark where the screws will go into the sides of the case, the top and
the cleats. Drill the countersinks, then the clearance holes for the
screws. Note that these holes are slightly off-center (about 1/16”), so
the cove molding you add later will completely cover them.
Woodworker’s Tip: Drilling first and countersinking second can
result in a rough, chatter-marked hole, especially on oak plywood,
which tears easily. Drill the countersink first, or use a combination
8. Carefully lay out and then drill the shelf pin holes into the inside face
of the sides (B).
Woodworker’s Tip: A common mistake is to drill the shelf-pin
holes inaccurately, resulting in a shelf that wobbles because it’s
not sitting on all four corners. To avoid this, mark out the holes
very carefully; use an awl to prick the surface where you want the
drill bit to start; and use a brad-point drill bit, which won’t easily
wander off the mark.
9. Cut the rabbets on the back edges of the sides (B). The easiest way
to do this is with your table or radial arm saw, making two cuts and
adjusting the fence after the first cut. Or, install a dado blade and set up
the saw to make the rabbets in one pass.
10. Finish-sand all the pieces you’ve made so far. Start with 120-grit
paper and finish with 220-grit.
Woodworker’s Tip: It’s a good idea to do as much of your sanding
as you can before any pieces are assembled. That way, you
eliminate having to sand inside corners. The same goes for finishing:
If you can finish parts separately and then assemble them, do
it. Remember, however, that glue won’t stick to a finished surface,
so don’t put finish on the surfaces of glue joints.
11. Dry-clamp the pieces to be joined with screws and drill the pilot
holes, using the countersunk clearance holes as your guide.
12. Screw the bookcase together. Start by screwing the top and bottom
shelves (C) to the sides (B). Then screw the base cleat (J) to the bottom
shelf (C). Next, screw the top (A) to the case.
13. Hold the base front piece (E) to the front of the bookcase and
mark on its inside surface where the miters should be cut. Cut these
miters, then cut the miters on the base sides (F).
Woodworker’s Tip: Test your miter cuts on a couple of pieces of
scrap (plywood works fine) before making the final cuts.
14. When the three base pieces (E and F) fit well, cut the curved opening
at the bottom of the base front (E). Give all the base pieces a final
sanding, then screw them onto the case. Use yellow carpenter’s glue on
the miter joints and other surfaces that meet. Trim the ends of the side
15. Mark the cove moldings for cutting the miter joints, and fit them on
as you did with the edging and base pieces–the front first and then the
sides. Drill pilot holes for the brads, not just into the cove molding, but
into the bookcase as well. Nail on the molding, sink the nailheads
slightly with a nail set, push putty into the nail holes. When the glue is
dry, trim the ends of the molding and sand them smooth.
16. Cut the back (D) to size and sand it, but don’t nail it on until
you’ve completed the finishing.
17. To prepare for finishing, slightly break all sharp edges on the
bookcase with sandpaper.