Building shelves and other furniture for you house can be a great way to get into woodworking. Many people choose to start with something simple, like a bookcase for their home. However, it may not be as simple as it looks. Creating something that is “perfectly square” can be a challenge for some beginner woodworkers. Creating things that are sturdy enough to withstand years of use and that also look good enough for you to put into your home may take some instruction. Use these tips for learning how to make sure your bookcase is sturdy, square, and attractive.
1) First, measure the space and decide on dimensions for your bookshelves. Determine how many shelves you would like to have in your bookcase and go shopping for your wood. Hardwoods will generally be more durable, but many soft woods are perfectly suited as well. Choose the one that you like best and buy pieces that give you enough to fit your dimensions and plan. Lay all of the pieces flat together to make sure that they are not warped before you purchase them.
2) Cut some quality, stain grade plywood using a miter saw or a table saw to the dimensions that you have set. You will need to cut the side panels and the top and bottom pieces, making sure that they all measure exactly right. Then, cut your shelves and make sure that everything will fit together perfectly.
3) Mark the side panel piecess for router joint grooves. Lay the two side panels side by side, line up the top and bottom perfectly, and then nail them together using a small scrap piece of wood. Use finishing nails or screws to affix the scrap wood to the bottom and top of the side panels. Place a T-square on the side so that it crosses the center line of the two panels butted against each other. Draw two lines, 3/4” apart to mark a path for your router. Most shelves are around 16” apart, but you can make your shelves however far apart that you want.
4) Put the pieces together making sure that the router grooves are facing inward. Nail the top and bottom pieces to the side panels. You’re essentially creating a box, so lay it down flat and check for exact 90 degree angles before you attach. You can use slender nails, a nail gun, or drill pilot holes to insert screws. Don’t skip drilling pilot holes for screws or you’ll risk splitting the wood.
5) When you have a perfectly square box, you should put a small amount of wood glue into each of your router slots. Slide your shelves into place and then nail them from the outside of the bookcase to secure them.
6) Cut a 2”x1″ board to fit inside of the rear top of your bookcase. This will be the cleat that holds the back panel in place if you choose to add one and it also secures your bookcase to studs in the wall. Glue and nail the cleat into the top rear portion of the case, flush with the top and side panels. Nail it from the sides and the top to make sure that it offers the proper support for the finished product.
7) Cover up the raw edges of the bookcase by attaching small 1-2 inch wide boards to the facing, or give it a good sanding. A fluted moulding or a split wood dowel rod works great for giving the front edge of each shelf a clean finish. Use a hardwood dowel for durability. Fill in nail holes, sand and you’re ready for finishing.
About the Author: Dave Murphy is the founder and president of Good Wood, Inc., which makes a high quality wood dowel and the best hardwood dowel on the market. They also create wooden balls, wood knobs, wooden toy parts, custom wood parts, and more. They offer safe wood finishing, wood turning and can import from off-shore when necessary. Visit http://www.goodwoodinc.com for all of your wood product needs.