Study Book Shelves #1: Living In a Mess

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Blog entry by Paul posted 10-13-2009 10:18 PM 5718 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Study Book Shelves series Part 2: Disappointment »

It’s been nine months since I posted a blog and over a year since I posted a project. Time flies.

Well, I’ve wanted to rebuild the book shelves in my study for some time. The volume of books had outgrown my current shelving capacity (96” wide and 48” tall). I had been confused by the book shelves in my church study though. I have never worked with mahogany, but they appeared to be made of mahogany. And for some unfathomable reason (in my mind), they had been finished with a thick golden oak color finish to match the paneling in the room. Why would anyone use mahogany for this?

The earlier this year, a neighbor was tearing down a building and I scavanged a decent pile of boards from the built-in painted shelving that had been in that building. Again, the wood appeared to be mahogany, but this time, painted white. My book shelves and the building were probably from the same late 1950s/ early 1960s era.

This demanded research. To the Internet! Surely, this wood must be something besides mahogany. And it is. It’s Phillipine Mahogany – not really a mahogany – but it has a look-alike wood grain. It’s likely Light Red Meranti or Lauan. It was apparently pretty commom and cheap years ago in lumber form and is still common in 1/4” ply sheets today.

So, I unloaded my bookshelves, disassembled it and added those boards to the pile of boards from the neighbor’s building. Ran everything through my planer to remove paint and stain. Built a six unit 96” w by 87” t set of book shelves that will hopefully look like a single built-in unit when installed. Stained the whole thing with Minwax red mahogany oil stain. It’s been raining here in Texas and I’m waiting for the polyurthane to dry.


The new unit(s) won’t match my study, but will match my chair!

Backing for the old shelves sitting against the wall.

-- Paul, Kentucky

3 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117616 posts in 3939 days

#1 posted 10-14-2009 03:38 AM

Look forward to your new bookshelves

View oldwoodman's profile


137 posts in 3760 days

#2 posted 10-14-2009 04:27 AM

Being a “bibliophile” myself, I look forward to seeing your completed project. I must admit that I have only built a few plywood bookcases, which I painted. During the last few years, I have purchased a dozen particleboard bookcases from Staples. They were relatively inexpensive, went together easily, and perform well. Maybe someday I can follow your example and build a quality bookcase out of “real wood.”

You know, of course, that anything under 10,000 books is not considered a library. It is only a “collection.”

View Roz's profile


1707 posts in 4148 days

#3 posted 10-15-2009 03:31 AM

I’ll be interested to see how this wood works. I understand it is hard. My out feed table is a recycled dining table top of Philippine Mahogany. It is a creamy white color.

-- Terry Roswell, L.A. (Lower Alabama) "Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans."

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