What You Need for This Project
Tip: Take the time to double-check all measurements. Remember to measure twice so you only have to cut once.
Take the piece that's 12 ft. x 1 in. x 12 in. and rip cut it so it's only 11 in. wide.
Rip cut the 8 ft. x 1 in. x 12 in. board so it's only 10 3/4 in. wide.
Rip cut the 1 in. x 4 in. piece to match the height of the base moulding you selected.
*If you want to make an open-ended bookcase, skip buying the plywood and rip cutting the bookshelf back.
Lay Out & Mill the Pieces
Lay Out & Mark the Pieces
Lay out the pieces as you would to assemble them. Choose the sides of the boards that will face out from the bookshelf. Use a pencil to lightly mark the interior faces. The "A" or faced side of the plywood should be visible from the front of the bookshelf.
Drill Holes on the Side Boards
Square the edge of pegboard on one of the sides, 12 in. from the bottom on the inside face of the side board. Use the pegboard as a template to drill holes on the side boards to receive shelf pins, with the holes being between 1 in. to 2 1/2 in. from each edge and stopping about 10 in. from the top. Drill matching holes on the other side board.
Rout Rabbets on the Top & Sides
Route a 1/4 in. x 1/2 in. rabbet in the rear of each side and the top. Rout the top so the rabbet stops 1/4 in. from each end of the board. When the bookshelf is assembled, the rabbet will receive the 1/4 in. plywood and hide the edge grain. Round over the front edges of the two shelves. On the top piece, round over the outside of the front edge and the outside of the ends.
Round Over the Edges
On the bottom shelf, round over the top of the front edge. Measure up from the bottom of each side 1/4 in. higher than the height of the base moulding and mark the outside of the front edge. Measure 1/4 in. down from the top of each side and mark the outside of the front edge. Round over each side between the marks.
Tip: Depending on the smoothness of the lumber, you may be able to start with fine sandpaper. Use your best judgement to determine which grit to start with.
Sand the Pieces
Start With Coarse Sandpaper
Use coarse, 80-grit paper for initial rough sanding. Use a tack cloth to remove sanding dust.
Move On to Medium Sandpaper
When you're satisfied with the rough sanding, use medium, 150-grit paper to smooth the stock. Use a tack cloth to remove sanding dust.
Remove Scratches with Fine Sandpaper
Use fine, 220-grit sandpaper to remove the light scratches left by the medium sandpaper. Use a tack cloth to remove sanding dust.
Wet the Wood
Rub the wood surface lightly with a damp cloth. When the water penetrates the wood surface some of the grain will swell. Allow the wood to dry fully before moving onto the last step.
Finish with Super Fine Sandpaper
Lightly sand with 400 or higher grit sandpaper until smooth. Remove any sanding dust with a tack cloth.
Tip: Dry-fit the pieces to make sure they'll fit properly and make any necessary adjustments before beginning the final assembly. Keep the pieces oriented correctly during assembly so you can keep track of everything. When gluing, use just enough glue to bond the pieces and not so much that it oozes out. Squeeze-out causes stain to blotch and can ruin your finish.
Assemble the Pieces
- Pre-drill the plywood back for nailing/screwing to the top, sides, bottom shelf and back rail. Lay the plywood back "face up" on a flat, level work surface.
- Pre-drill holes in the top for fastening to the sides.
- Pre-drill holes in the sides for fastening to the front rail, back rail and bottom shelf.
- Pre-drill holes in the bottom shelf for fastening to the front and back rails.
Glue the Top, Sides & Rails
- Glue and fasten the sides and top together. Position the pieces over the plywood back to help maintain square.
- Glue and fasten the front and back rails to the sides.
- Clamp the assembly and allow the glue to cure. Leave the assembly positioned over the plywood back to help maintain square while the glue cures.
- After the glue cures, remove the clamps.
Glue the Bottom Shelf
- Glue and fasten the bottom shelf to the front and back rail.
- Turn the assembly face down on the worktable. Glue and fasten the back to the top, sides, bottom shelf, and back rail.
Check & Adjust
Stand the assembly on the worktable and ensure that it's level and square. Adjust as needed. Clamp the back to the rest of the assembly. Place weights on the bottom shelf to press it into the front and back rails. Allow the glue to cure.
Scrape off any dried glue. Set all fasteners and putty the holes.
Install the Base Moulding
Cut the base moulding so it fits the assembly. If you want to paint or stain it, do so now. Once you've finished, install it onto the assembly by either nailing or drilling it into place.
Paint or Stain
Paint or stain the assembly and shelves to your liking. If applying several coats, make sure each one dries thoroughly before applying the next.
Finish Things Off
Install the pins and shelves at the desired height.
Inspect everything one last time to see if you've missed anything.
Tip: Allow the finish to cure for at least a week before putting books on the shelves.
How To Terms
- Lay Out & Mark the Pieces
- Drill Holes on the Side Boards
- Rout Rabbets on the Top & Sides
- Round Over the Edges
- Start With Coarse Sandpaper
- Move On to Medium Sandpaper
- Remove Scratches with Fine Sandpaper
- Wet the Wood
- Finish with Super Fine Sandpaper
- Pre-Drill Holes
- Glue the Top, Sides & Rails
- Glue the Bottom Shelf
- Check & Adjust
- Install the Base Moulding
- Paint or Stain
- Finish Things Off
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