The Last Bookcase?

  • Advertise with us
Project by Mr M's Woodshop posted 08-27-2014 01:50 PM 1912 views 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My daughter-in-law asked me to build a couple of bookcases for her new classroom. I was happy to oblige. It did make me wonder, though … how much longer will bookcases be something woodworkers build?

A pair of bookcases was my very first DIY project, back before “DIY” had entered the lexicon. My new bride and I had set up our first apartment in Newhall, CA, while I went to grad school … and we were awash in albums (remember those?) and books. It was 1978.

I bought some pine and a sheet of 1/4″ ply – plus a Skil Saw and a carpenter’s square – and built 2 bookcases. Shelves were held in place with 1″ x 2″ cleats and 6 penny nails. Simple, clunky but effective. One bookcase was 3′ x 4′; the other was 4′ x 5′. Even then, I knew how to design a project to use all of a 4’x8′ sheet of ply.

The bookshelves moved with us to our first house, but didn’t make it to our second house. We demanded better … and bought them. I wasn’t really a woodworker back then.

My skill set – and my tools – have improved since that first set of bookcases. For this project, I used dadoes for the shelf joints, with the plywood screwed & glued into place. The edges got 1/2″ red oak trim, which was glued and then secured in place with my nail gun. My, how the times have changed.

Prior to this project, I had only made one bookcase since 1978. That got me to thinking. Will I ever build another one?

Woodworking projects, you see, reflect the times that the project lives in. Woodworkers used to make pie safes. CD Racks. Bread boxes. Today, not so much.

English teachers in junior high classrooms still need bookcases, apparently. But I wonder … for how much longer?

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

5 comments so far

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3635 days

#1 posted 08-27-2014 02:17 PM

I could use some more bookcases even though I have eight full size bookcases in my study and three more in my great room. I have a lot more books and magazines stacked up in my study floor and many more still packed up in boxes on the basement floor. As soon as I get time I’m going to build some more to put outside my study. I am definitely a book nut.

You did a nice job on these bookcases and I’m sure that your daughter is quite pleased with them.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View hotncold's profile


788 posts in 2312 days

#2 posted 08-27-2014 02:19 PM

Nice job Henry and you pose an interesting question. We have several bookcases in the house to hold all of those books that we’ve accumulated over the years…but they are now rarely ever removed.
I suspect bookcases will be around forever but probably used for fewer and fewer “books”.

-- Dennie - Tennessee

View visualj's profile


36 posts in 2319 days

#3 posted 08-27-2014 04:20 PM

Remember albums??? Yes, I still have over 800 of them. But store them either crates or a case just like the record stores have.

Hmm, a last book case? Not for a while. I have built five for this house. And only one is going to the new house. But the design calls for a wall of book shelves in the office. And I am sure I will have a couple in my workshop for plans and magazines. And one in the ‘stereo room’.

BTW, your daughter in law and her students should be happy with this one.

View Mr M's Woodshop's profile

Mr M's Woodshop

426 posts in 3835 days

#4 posted 08-27-2014 04:40 PM

Perhaps I should add that the one bookcase I had previously made in the last 30 years was for my home office, where I spend most of my day. Here’s that link:

-- Henry Mowry, Santa Clarita, CA,

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2958 days

#5 posted 08-28-2014 07:06 PM

great looking bookcases henry.should last your daughter in law a long time.with everything going digital in another few years books maybe obsolete.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics