This node contains plans for some easy to build and not too bad looking bookcases. This is one way. There are others, some better, some worse. Here's another way: jwz: the industrial bookcase

You will need the following materials and tools:

When you buy the lumber, try to find boards that are straight and flat, free from any warps, bends, twists, bows, knots, bark, paint, sap, staples, or other defects.

Now you have to decide how each of the 6 foot boardi will be used in the construction of the bookcase. Two of the boards will form the vertical sides, and two will be cut in thirds to make six horizontal shelves between the two vertical boards.

Imagine where your bookcase is going to be, and imagine which parts will be visible. If it's filled with books for example, the shelves will be mostly hidden except for the front edge. If one bookcase is wedged between two others, the inner faces of the vertical sides will be visible, but the outer faces will not. Or maybe the outer face of one of the sides will be visible. With all that in mind decide which of the boards will be used for which parts, and which side of each board will face which way, with an eye towards making the nicest looking wood show the most while hiding as many defects as possible. You can stick post-it notes on the boards so you don't forget, or write directly (but lightly!) on the boards with a pencil.

Take the two boards that will make up the shelves, and cut each into thirds, to make six 2-foot boards. Use the T-square to make sure the cuts are square. (If you have a table saw, even better.) Also, make sure that all the boards are exactly the same length. If one of your 6-foot boards is a bit too long or two short, make adjustments and/or extra cuts as necessary so that your 6 boards will all come out to be the same length.

Sand the boards to taste.

Take the two boards that will be the vertical sides and lay them down so that the inner faces are facing up. The two boards should be exactly the same length, trim one if necessary.

The shelves will be supported by short lengths of the 1"x2" boards. So the bottom shelf will be about 2 inches (1.5 really) above the floor, while the top "shelf" will be flush with the top of the vertical sides. You want to divide the space into 5 equal parts to determine where your shelves will go. Calculate it like this:

        I will make the following unsafe assumptions:

        Your vertical boards are exactly 6 feet long.
        Your 1"x2" boards are actaully 1.5" x 0.75" boards.
        Your 1"x12" boards are actually 0.75"x11" boards.

        6.0 feet = 72.0 inches

        72.0 inches - 1.5 inches - 0.75 inches = 69.75 inches

        69.75 inches / 5.0 = 13.95 inches.

So the vertical distance between the top surface of one shelf and the top surface of the next shelf is 13.95 inches, in case my assumptions are all true. Your numbers may come out a little differently. Measure everything like crazy.

Cut twelve 9-inch lengths of the 1"x2" boards. These will be the supports that hold up the shelves. Lay six of these supports across the inside face of each of the two boards that make up the vertical sides with 13.95 inches between each. The bottom support should be flush with the bottom of the vertical side, and there should be 13.95 inches between the bottom of first support and the bottom of the second support. The top support should work out so there's just enough space left above the top surface for one of the shelves (0.75 inches).

Mark the positions of each support carefully. Make sure that they are square, otherwise your shelves won't be level. Now glue them in place. Use enough glue, but try not to use so much that it squeezes out and gets all over the wood. Let dry overnight.

Now, drill two holes through each of the supports and the vertical sides to which it is glued. Actually it's better to drill through starting from whichever side will be seen, so as not to mar the woud. Usually that means from the outside of the board to which the supports are glued. Then cut lengths of dowel that are the same length as the thickness of the vertical boards and the support boards. Glue the dowels into the holds. Try not to get glue everywhere, and wipe it up quickly if you do. Any dried glue that remains should be sanded off. It's easiest to drill all the holes at once, cut all the pieces of dowel at once, then glue them all in at once.

At this point, you should have the two boards that make up the sides of the bookcase each having 6 support boards glued to it. Now you can assemble the bookcase, resting the shelves on the supports. Gravity should hold it together. You can put one board up against a wail, and lean another board against the opposite side of the bookcase. With all the shelves in place, push things around until everything is square and the sides are truly vertical. Then, one by one, glue the shelves to the supports upon which they rest, and to the sides of the bookcase, frequently checking that the sides are still vertical and that everything is square. Let dry overnight.

Next, for each shelf, on each side, drill a couple of holes through the outside face of the sides of the book case to penetrate the edges of the shelf. Put glue and a length of dowel through the hole.

Finally, cut a length of 1"x2" board just as wide as each shelf. This piece fits under the front of the bottom shelf. Glue and dowel it in place.

I finished mine with an oil based wood stain (Sears "Colonial Maple") followed by an easily applied wax finish and they came out pretty well.

Caveat Emptor: I built my shelves quite a while ago, making it up as I went along. I have not tried to actually build any by following these instructions, which I also just made up. Though I believe them to be correct, you should check my (and your) math and understand what you're doing and not just blindly follow these instructions. (In other words, don't come crying to me when you saw a board in half in the wrong place and have to go get another board.)

Here is a PostScript program that will draw a 1/12th scale exploded diagram, perhaps that will make the above a bit clearer. (You know I can't make a node without code.)

%!PS-Adobe 1.0
/L {lineto} def /RL {rlineto} def
/M {moveto} def /RM {rmoveto} def
/SG {stroke grestore} def
/NP {newpath} def /CP {closepath} def
/GS {gsave} def /SC {scale} def
/SLW {0.2 setlinewidth} def /SP {showpage} def
/boxdict 25 dict def
/ft {72 mul} def
/inch { 12 div ft } def
/BOX {
        boxdict begin
                /depth exch def
                /width exch def
                /height exch def
                /y exch def
                /x exch def
                /tworoot 2 sqrt def

        gsave
                newpath
                x y moveto
                width 0 rlineto
                0 height -1 mul rlineto
                width -1 mul 0 rlineto
                closepath
                stroke

                newpath
                x y moveto
                width 0 rlineto
                depth tworoot div depth tworoot div rlineto
                width -1 mul 0 rlineto
                closepath
                stroke

                newpath
                x width add y height sub moveto
                0 height rlineto
                depth tworoot div depth tworoot div rlineto
                0 height -1 mul rlineto
                closepath
                stroke

        grestore
        end
} def

/sixfootboard {
  boxdict begin
    /y exch def /x exch def
  x y 6 ft 0.75 inch 11 inch BOX
  end
} def

/shelf {
  boxdict begin
        /y exch def /x exch def
        x y 0.75 inch 2 ft 11 inch BOX
  end
} def

/support {
  boxdict begin
        /y exch def /x exch def
        x y 1.5 inch 0.75 inch 9 inch BOX
  end
} def


SLW
2 ft 7 ft sixfootboard
6 ft 7 ft sixfootboard

3 ft 84.00 inch shelf
3 ft 70.05 inch shelf
3 ft 56.10 inch shelf
3 ft 42.15 inch shelf
3 ft 28.20 inch shelf
3 ft 14.25 inch shelf

2.5 ft 83.25 inch support 5.5 ft 83.25 inch support
2.5 ft 69.30 inch support 5.5 ft 69.30 inch support
2.5 ft 55.35 inch support 5.5 ft 55.35 inch support
2.5 ft 41.40 inch support 5.5 ft 41.40 inch support
2.5 ft 27.45 inch support 5.5 ft 27.45 inch support
2.5 ft 13.50 inch support 5.5 ft 13.50 inch support

3 ft 12.50 inch 1.5 inch 2 ft 0.75 inch BOX
SP

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