Oak Bookcase - Christmas Gift for Inlaws

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Project by Lifesaver2000 posted 12-20-2012 12:15 AM 3976 views 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My father-in-law recently retired, and my wife said that he had brought home some books from his office. My mother-in-law has often (seemingly) admired some of my previous projects, especially the bookshelf type, so this looked like a good idea for a Christmas gift. We managed to surprise them with it a few days ago by getting them out to the shop, and it appeared to go over quite well. This is the first large project I have built for someone else.

The bookcase is almost seven feet high by 32 inches wide by twelve inches deep. There are five 30 inch adjustable shelves, all can be used in either the upper or lower section. The shelves are edged with one inch solid oak to make them a little stronger and give it a more “solid” appearance. Construction is with “Made in USA” cabinet-grade 3/4 and 1/4 inch plywood for the case and shelves (the best plywood I can find in my area, from a local builder’s supply) and solid oak for the rest.

Finish is Minwax Aged Oak gel stain with Sherwin-Williams water based polyurethane. This is my first use of the gel stain, and I really like how it turned out.

I did one thing new with this project. I decided to keep records of costs and time spent. This is one of those type projects that I suspect someone might see and say “can you build me one of those?” I am hoping that when I tell them what it would cost they will be discouraged, since I don’t have any interest in building things for money but am not good at saying “no.”

The costs of all the wood, hardware and finishing supplies was right at $200. Miscellaneous supplies like glue, tape and also estimated shop electrical costs was an additional $30. Then my best guess for equipment and blade/bit wear and tear is another $70, making a total out of pocket cost of $300. I spent 85 hours building this one, but figure I could shorten that down some on a second, so I am looking at a minimum of $1000 for it to be worth the trouble of building another one. I don’t think anyone I know would pay that kind of money for a bookcase so I should be safe.

4 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4917 days

#1 posted 12-20-2012 02:45 AM

View CatholicWoodworker's profile


20 posts in 3344 days

#2 posted 12-20-2012 02:40 PM

Nice case. I have the same problem with project requests from others-the price I would charge is way more than I would ever pay. But, I wouldn’t pay it only because I know I can build it for less.

-- "What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway." -Mother Teresa

View HandyNative's profile


2 posts in 3443 days

#3 posted 12-21-2012 12:47 PM

Nice work, definitely have to charge a rate that doesn’t involve you working for free. I get asked and told no a lot because everyone seems to think knowing a guy who can build it is cheaper then buying it. I’m not a factory with staff that can mass produce I’m one guy with a modest shop. Everything costs money overhead has to be covered too. Electricity and sand paper doesn’t pay for itself lol

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17683 posts in 3959 days

#4 posted 12-21-2012 12:49 PM

Wow, nice work! Looks like a professional piece, and the recipients love it – Success!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

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