Custom Bookcase

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Project by MrFid posted 03-29-2014 03:56 AM 1569 views 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was one of my earliest woodworking projects. When we bought our first house a few years ago, I was hoping to find some quality furniture, like a nice big bookcase. I knew just enough to realize that I wasn’t going to find it at Target, etc. After realizing that we were not going to be able to afford bookcases from the “quality” furniture stores, and also seeing nothing there that I was that impressed with anyway, I decided it was time to try my hand at woodworking.

So after doing exactly zero research, off I went to Home Depot to find some wood. Since the biggest section there was the pine section, I went with that (not how I buy lumber anymore, by the way). I dropped 119.00 on a Ryobi table saw (this also turned out to be trash, or fodder for Craigslist). I also managed to buy a router table (one of those benchtop models with only a 1/4 inch shank, you know the kind), and was pleased to report to my wife that she was getting a quality bookcase for less than half the cost of one of those big furniture stores, and I came away with tools, to boot.

You might imagine that this turns out to be a total nightmare, but actually I managed to pull off something that looks basically respectable. I wouldn’t put my name on it anymore, but I was pretty pleased with it, and it does manage to hold books without a problem. I have learned a lot since then, including:

1. All about wood movement. The doors are a glueup of two pieces of pine (no jointing done of any sort to match edges, and the glueup was imprecise at best), so during the summer the latches don’t line up, and the doors pop open. Nothing a hair elastic around the knobs won’t keep relatively closed.

2. Doors need room to open. As seen in the last picture, when one of the inner doors is open, the other one cannot open. Oh well.

3. Routing works a lot better when the board is actually flat, and dimensional wood from Home D rarely comes flat.

4. Finishing is more than brushing on a hearty dose of walnut stain and letting it dry for a day or two. Actually, this one turned out to be a happy accident. But overapplying and not wiping the stain off, it lends an interesting look to the wood that makes it look a lot more exotic than it would have looked conventionally applied. Hey, what you might call blotchy I’ll call exotic, okay?

I hope you enjoy seeing the project that got me into this wonderful hobby. I have improved my skills tremendously since that first bookcase, but it has a special place for me. Thanks for looking, reading, commenting. Have a great day.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

2 comments so far

View oldrivers's profile


2232 posts in 2366 days

#1 posted 03-29-2014 11:20 AM

Thanks for posting your first project. I read the email notification before I went to L J.s I was surprised to see how in your words (respectable) it was, good work for the first project with no research (I am impressed). Looking at your posted projects I see you came from this first project to having posted two Daily Top Three’s on L J’s Very good indeed. Thanks for sharing and may your day be Blessed O’Neal

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3666 days

#2 posted 03-29-2014 04:32 PM

These cases are very attractive and nicely done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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