Poplar bookshelves for my office

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Project by Bill Huffman posted 05-19-2020 02:55 PM 1162 views 1 time favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I always wanted an office, with a small library. When I built my shop, I had a 10×10 corner partitioned off to create my office.

I wanted Mahogany shelves, but knew the cost was WAY over my financial abilities, so I decided on Poplar plywood and trim, then a water based stain to get the color/look I wanted.

After the basic cases were built, 3 bottom cases for cupboards, and 2 top shelves, with a split top and bottom for the window in the middle of the wall. I also built this so the entire thing can be removed so I could finish it completely and then install it.

Next came the trim. I made my own to include the crown molding, I also made a sanding handle which was overkill, but why not…

Once the molding was done, I moved to the water based stain.

I also wanted to Age it by adding some faux shading. I used Cinnamon water based stain from General Finishes, for the base, and Ebony for the aged appearance.

After staining and aging I used General Finishes clear top coat on everything. Multiple coats are needed of all of these, from the base coat to the final finish, and with the dark colors I was looking for, I used A LOT of stain. It was still cheaper than starting with Mahogany, but it was expensive enough that I wondered how much I actually saved.

I was and am still very happy with my shelves, although as with many projects, I would do it differently if I did it again. I continued this same process and paneled my office, which I will show in a separate post.

-- Im so impressed with what people can do, and I wonder how they do it. Thats what keeps me doing it.

11 comments so far

View tyvekboy's profile


2151 posts in 4352 days

#1 posted 05-19-2020 03:06 PM

WOW! That turned out really nice! Like the design and finish.

I’m impressed that you made the crown molding too.

Also like how you preserved the window in the wall and built around it.

Good job. TFS.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View recycle1943's profile


6247 posts in 2961 days

#2 posted 05-19-2020 03:06 PM

I am just beside myself trying to come up with the words that fit the quality as this cabinet. I’m going to have to call upon my wife (HS English & Latin teacher) for the proper verbage.
In the meantime, congratulations on a supurb cabinet – the build and the color is beyond belief.
dt3 surely on the way

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View hutchmp's profile


89 posts in 4291 days

#3 posted 05-19-2020 03:09 PM

Beautiful craftsmanship!! It fits the space so well and I like all your trinkets (military airplanes, tank, ship….ext). Making the crown yourself is very impressive and your shop looks great as well.

Congrats on completing the project!


-- Hutch

View Andre's profile


5010 posts in 3145 days

#4 posted 05-19-2020 04:01 PM

Amazing, well done! Poplar a very underrated wood!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View ohwoodeye's profile


2746 posts in 4492 days

#5 posted 05-19-2020 08:29 PM

The Bookshelves are beautiful but you cluttered them with all that crap. Donate the books, you aren’t going to read them anyway…...then we can see more of your creation.

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View Bill Huffman's profile

Bill Huffman

269 posts in 2758 days

#6 posted 05-19-2020 09:05 PM

Thanks for the comments folks.

The crown molding was really fun, and so much easier than I thought. I had been doing little cove moldings for years for smaller cabinets, so that really helped. The hardest part for me was figuring out the compound angles for the final fit with the middle standing proud.

Andre: I really like Poplar, it machines great, and is a soft-hardwood so I had to use a wood stabilizer before staining to prevent blotching. The stain evened out the color so I didn’t need to worry about all the different colors of Poplar. I typically finish with oils, poly’s, and waxes, so it was a shock to me how much I spent. I did this over a number of weeks, so I don’t honestly know how much I spent on finishes, but I would say it was about 400 bucks for the entire thing.

-- Im so impressed with what people can do, and I wonder how they do it. Thats what keeps me doing it.

View therealSteveN's profile


9392 posts in 1913 days

#7 posted 05-19-2020 11:20 PM

Beautiful look that. Awesome work.

I think the books make the look happier.

-- Think safe, be safe

View JP4LSU's profile


109 posts in 1486 days

#8 posted 05-20-2020 11:56 AM

Beautiful work and yes I agree with Andre, poplar is under rated. Very nice work on the trim and the finish is excellent. Great work on the faux finish. I might try that.

I’m saving this project for ideas for a built in my wife wants in the living room to house the TV with some narrow shelving on each side. I might steal some of the trim work you did.

View Northwest29's profile


1715 posts in 3829 days

#9 posted 05-20-2020 05:00 PM

Absolutely beautiful work in design and execution. The staining was a real undertaking but turned out gorgeous. Very inspirational. 10+++

-- Ron, "Curiosity is a terrible thing to waste."

View psully's profile


98 posts in 1621 days

#10 posted 05-22-2020 02:07 AM

Impressive project – I always appreciate the detail on the stain/finish. The wide crown looks great and really like how you maintained continuity in the details and trim on the upper and lower cabinets.

View Hammerthumb's profile


3141 posts in 3314 days

#11 posted 05-22-2020 03:09 AM

Go Hawks!

Very impressive work.

-- Paul, Duvall, WA

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