Knockdown Bookcases

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Project by EarlS posted 05-11-2015 11:07 PM 1984 views 6 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

About 10 years ago, early in my woodworking experience, I built a set of cherry knockdown book shelves based on the plans in Woodsmith (Vol 26, No 153 June/July 2004). I made the mistake of selling them when we moved the last time thinking I wouldn’t need them in the new house. Since then I have come to see the error of my ways (or should I say my wife has made me see the error of my ways). At any rate, I sorted through the old issues until I found it, dusted it off and reviewed my notes.

The book shelf is made up of 2 side pieces, a base, a top, and shelves. The entire unit is screwed together with knockdown bolts which makes for easy disassembly if you decide to move it. The knock down approach also allows for building and finishing the unit in pieces which greatly simplifies the finishing process.

My units are cherry – 48” wide x 78” tall, with 12” deep walnut shelves. The accent slats are also walnut. I’m a big fan of the cherry/walnut combination. Each shelf is 1” thick with a back support and a front cleat to provide stiffness. The sides are 1.5” X 3.5” with 3/4” thick horizontal spacers that also hold the decorative slats. I finished it with a couple of coats of Watco natural oil, followed by 3 coats of semi-gloss polyurethane, lightly sanding with 600 grit paper between coats. Finally I finished with 0000 steel wool and buffed it out with some wax to give the wood a lustrous sheen.

In case you are wondering about the picture of the knockdown insert that is my lesson learned for this project. Initially, I tried to use the hex wrench to install them but demolished the insert because the hex opening wasn’t deep enough to hold the wrench in place and the insert wasn’t beefy enough to stand up to the force. After destroying several of the inserts, and throwing the rest away in frustration, I went to the local woodworking store and bought some more. The person that helped me suggested using a bolt and double nut with the ratchet to screw them in. It went very smoothly and I didn’t destroy a single one using this method. I’m sure plenty of you out there know this trick but I hadn’t come across it before.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

4 comments so far

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2710 days

#1 posted 05-12-2015 03:52 AM

Great looking shelves! Thanks for the reference and the tip.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View spaultedsteel's profile


8 posts in 1687 days

#2 posted 05-12-2015 10:09 AM

Practical and good looking, cant be beat!

-- dave,missouri,

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3285 days

#3 posted 05-12-2015 01:38 PM

These look really nice.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Roger's profile


21006 posts in 3222 days

#4 posted 05-12-2015 10:27 PM

Some fine looking bookcases Earl. I like the take-down option.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed. [email protected]

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