I would like to build a bookshelf in our family room and I am being
encouraged to begin with unfinished 30" base cabinets on the bottom, then
1x12's or 1x16" for the shelving units going up to the ceiling. The space
is a 14' wall with 9' ceilings. Something like this unit here -->
http://www.easywoodprojects.com/bookcase2-173.htm It will be three base
units on the bottom, a nice 1" top board instead of a counter in this
picture and three shelve sections the width of each base unit. This is my
first "real" project and I have very rudimentary power tools, i.e. no
router. Is this a reasonable and easy unit to build? Are their plans
available? What type of trim pieces do you suggest? Should the 1x16's going
up be doubled up? Is the base cabinet idea the right way to do without hand
building them, which I cannot do? Am I just nuts? Any advice, hints, plans,
tips or general direction would be greatly appreciated.
Depends on how nice you want it to look.
Popular Mechanics has some free bookcase plans on the internet that only
require a circular saw. But they look like someone with just a circular saw
built them. If you could build professional looking furniture without real
tool, then we would all be wasting alot of money on our tools.
Do you have access to a table saw?
When you say 30" base cabinets do you mean 30" wide or 30" tall?
1x12 or 1x16 will be enough to handle the bookcase sides and you
might consider building it with a 1/4" plywood back. This will
stabilize the cabinet and keep it square and if you can't rabbet the
sides to hide the 1/4" you could cover the exposed end(s) with a small
molding like cove or something similar. The back would also allow
you to make your shelving adjustable by either drilling the sides for
clips or mounting shelf standards on the sides.
It looks like the picture you have shows a carcass made of plywood
with solid wood stiles and rails. That's how I would recommend you
build it assuming you have access to a table saw so that you can rip
the plywood. For the stiles and rails, check with your local lumber
yard and see what sizes of s4s material they carry. Depending on the
species you are using you can probably get sizes that will work
without ripping and jointing. If not, you may be able to get the yard
to rip and joint the material for you for a small fee.
I certainly think it's something you can do without a whole lot of
Thanks for the advice. Lucky me, I drove by the neighbor this afternoon and
he was out cutting with his table saw. The base cabinets would be 30" tall
if I can find them without the drawers so they don't look like kitchen or
bath vanities. The picture was more of the thought in having a cabinet then
shelves up, it does look horrid doesn't it? Nothing at least for a family
room where I want a wall of books and nicknacks. I might be biting off more
than my fence building, shed producing, dog house creating hands can muster.
All without a table saw until now ;-) Thanks again for the advice.
Here's what I suggest: Get to a bookstore or library, and find a book
on building kitchen cabinets. Look for a one by Tolpin, Proulx,
Schmidt, or one that seems to speak to you in language that you can
easily understand, with good illustration. I know you're not building a
kitchen, but those base cabinets don't know that. The techniques are
identical, except you don't have to deal with sink cutouts and
They will show you what tools you need to do what they discuss. And
they will give you the means of figuring out how to estimate the
materials needed to build your project. Think about how you want to put
a finish on the project as well.
Budget for materials, and add in the tools you lack to build what you
like. Then head down to the home center of choice with your drawing,
and see if you can get one of the drones to price up the package
readybuilt. Factor in the risks, rewards, pleasure and disruption, and
see if you want to take on the project.
Some of us have done some very successful projects like you describe.
Most of us have screwed up, sometime somewhere in our past. The
experienced woodworker knows how to recover from mistakes and
And yes, most of us are a bit nuts.
wondering how you will get this done without a router. And a tablesaw.
I built a similar project few years back. A few tips.
1) Buy the unfinished base cabinets. Well worth the $$.
2) If you're going to paint, use 3/4" birch plywood and poplar trim.
Also, if you paint, use acrylic cabinet paint with a foam roller for a
smooth durable surface.
3) If you're going wall-to-wall, make sure you take several
measurements at different points/heights of the wall. Your walls will
usually be slightly narrower at the top/bottom/corners.
4) Build each bookshelf by itself, then place each unit on the base
cabinet and fasten together. After that, attach trim boards to cover
the 'seam' between bookshelfs.
I too, wonder how you will get by without a tablesaw or router at the
Thank you as well. It is going to be painted white to match the my crown
and fireplace and thanks for the 3/4" birch note. My neighbor (with the
table saw) is behind me nodding his head. I found the same molding to cover
the seams as is on the fireplace, so that will be a part of it. He has
offered everything short of doing it himself and I can afford to pay, I just
want the satisfaction of doing. I'll just pay to repair any duffs ;-)
Thank you all again.
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