Making a Massive Bookcase Step-by-Step

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1 Making a Massive Bookcase Step-by-Step Jeff Branch WOODWORKING The only thing challenging about this project is its huge size. By JFF BRANCH A t right is a rendering of my first woodworking project completed on a commission basis. It is also the largest project I have ever tackled standing a full eight feet tall. It was so large that I had to build it in sections: the left side separates from the right and the base and crown moldings are removable. My client s home office and narrow hallway prohibited me making it in one piece. While building it, I would often have to take it out and set it up in my driveway because my basement shop has an eight foot ceiling not enough clearance to stand it up in doors. I met the client through a friend. I was not really looking for a big project, but my client was a college professor and as such, she had a ton of books with nowhere to put them. Her home office had a nine foot ceiling and there was enough room along one wall for a five foot wide bookcase. Making the most of the available size meant a bookcase eight feet tall. The professor liked the rustic look of a small pine bookcase already in her office and requested that her new one replicate that look. Knotty pine was selected as the wood and it would be colored with a medium brown stain. Lessons from a large project This bookcase taught me a lot about handling large projects in a small shop. While this project uses simple construction techniques, the sheer size of the project made building it problematic. I have plenty of assembly space in my basement, but I often had to come up with work around methods to complete basic tasks: Cutting the sides to final length meant using a router equipped with a straight cutting bit and a template. Neither my table saw or my miter saw was adequate to do this. Cutting the beaded plywood back to final size was accomplished with a circular saw and a straight edge. I felt really uneasy cutting the back on my table saw. My saw horses were too small and not the right height for me to comfortably work on the cases. Its size meant I would often need help moving it around my shop. All of this added time and eroded the profit I hoped to make. But making this bookcase was a good learning exercise: it taught me the shortcomings of my shop and what processes I would need to improve upon the next time I tackled a large project. The design I came up with is simple, but classic. I tried to keep the proportions pleasing a crown molding that isn t too big and a strong look to the base. The beaded plywood back added a nice element to the design. I could not have asked for a more agreeable first client. She was very understanding with time delays and she was very pleased with the end result; she even gave me a tip upon delivery! 2011 by Jeff Branch ~ 1 ~

2 xploded View The bookcase breaks down into four sections: separate left and right sides, and removable crown and base moldings. 1 Face frame components are joined together with pocket screws. 2 3 Note the numbered shelves. These five shelves are adjustable. 4 ach case is comprised of two sides joined by two fixed shelves and the interior top via dados by Jeff Branch 5 Note: the adjustable shelves have been removed from the right case for illustrative clarity. The left and right cases are locked in place using connector bolts. ~ 2 ~

3 Cut List Left and Right Cases A 1 Left Case Left Side 90 1/4 x 10 1/2 x 3/4 B 1 Left Case Right Side 90 1/4 x 10 1/2 x 3/4 C 1 Right Case Left Side 90 1/4 x 10 1/2 x 3/4 D 1 Right Case Right Side 90 1/4 x 10 1/2 x 3/4 6 Case Fixed Shelves 28 1/2 x 10 x 3/4 F 2 Backs 90 1/4 x 28 1/2 x 3/8 G 10 Adjustable Shelves 27 3/4 x 10 x 3/4 Face Frames H 2 Outer Stiles 90 1/4 x 2 1/4 x 3/4 I 2 Inner Stiles 90 1/4 x 1 1/8 x 3/4 J 2 Bottom Rails 25 7/8 x 4 x 3/4 K 2 Top Rails 25 7/8 x 5 x 3/4 Base L 2 Web Frame Rails 59 1/4 x 3 x 3/4 M 3 Web Frame Stiles 5 5/8 x 3 x 3/4 N 1 Base Board Back 58 1/2 x 4 1/4 x 3/4 O 2 Base Board Sides 12 x 5 x 3/4 P 1 Base Board Front 60 x 5 x 3/4 Q 18 Base Foot 4 1/4 x 2 x 3/4 R 16 Base Blocking 1 7/8 x 1 7/8 x 3/4 S 4 Base Blocking 1 7/8 x 1 7/8 x 1/4 Moldings and Miscellaneous T 1 Top 63 13/64 x 13 39/64 x 3/4 U 2 Crown Molding Sides cut to fit V 1 Crown Molding Front cut to fit W 2 Base Cap Sides cut to fit X 2 Base Cap Fronts cut to fit Total board feet excluding the back I utilized two 4 x 8 sheets of beaded plywood for the back. Notes I chose stock crown and base cap molding from my local home center. This crown molding has a height of 3 41/64. The base cap has a height of 1 1/8. Molding sizes vary by supplier so choose a size as close to these as possible. The case top, part T size is determined in part by the angle in which the crown molding extends out from the case front and sides, so be prepared to re size the top as needed. I used 1/4 hardwood dowels as shelf supports and connector bolts, cap nuts and insert nuts to bring the various sections into place. See more about these items on page by Jeff Branch Basic Dimensions The side is twelve inches deep at the base of the bookcase. The shelf depth is sufficient to hold books with covers that are up to ten inches deep. ~ 3 ~

4 Step One: Build the Cases Side Dimensions Lower Shelf Support Close up Upper Shelf Support Close up A rabbet runs down the back edge of each side. See illustration 5a for more. 3/4 3/4 3/4 3 9/64 3/4 Note the location of holes needed for the connector bolts (red arrows). See more at 5b, and 5c. These holes are needed only in parts B and C. B 90 1/4 1 1/2 3/4 32 1/4 1 1/ /64 3 1/4 Quarter inch holes for shelf supports are centered 1 1/2 in from each edge and are 4a 10 1/2 4b spaced a distance of one inch on center. 4c 2011 by Jeff Branch ~ 4 ~

5 Build the Cases A close up showing the dimensions of the rabbet for the back. 1/2 3/8 F F A A D 5a 2011 by Jeff Branch 1 1/8 B C 3/4 Note the holes for the connector bolts. On part B, they are 7/16 in diameter and on C they are 3/8. 5b B C 5c After completing fabrication of the sides, form the fixed shelves, parts. Note the inset illustration both bottom shelves need a 3/8 hole drilled at the outside corners as shown. Glue the fixed shelves into the dados in the corresponding sides. Cut the backs to size and temporarily attach them with screws. ~ 5 ~

6 Step Two: Adding the Face Frames A Delicate Step 5 Note: cut the 1/2 chamfer after you have attached the face frames to their cases. 6b Adding the face frames to the cases is a step that requires some planning. The cases are elevated so clamps can be added. Do a test run of laying the face frames and clamps in position. For best results, try to line up the grain of parts I making this joint as invisible as possible. Remember, we are not gluing the cases together. 7 6a Form the rails and stiles for the face frame taking care to cut parts I from the same stock. Join the various parts with pocket screws and glue. We are making two separate face frames; do not glue them to each other by Jeff Branch Once you are pleased, remove the face frames, spread glue on the edge of the cases avoiding glue getting between the two cases and parts I (I taped wax paper between the cases). With the help of a friend, lay the face frames in place, add clamps, remove any glue squeeze out and let everything dry. 7 ~6~

7 Step Three: Build the Base Form the Web Frame Wrap the Frame Add the Feet 2011 by Jeff Branch M O Note: The right side base board has been moved to better show the location of the base feet. P M L N M O Q 7a 7b 7c Begin forming the base by cutting the components to size. Use a biscuit jointer to cut mortises. Add glue and biscuits, then clamp the assembly and allow the glue to dry. Form the front and side base boards by cutting a 3/8 deep and 3/4 tall rabbet along the inner top edge. Then cut a 45 angle at each front corner as shown. Add glue and nail the boards in place. Then glue and nail the back base board into place. The feet Q provide support for the base. ach foot is formed from a glue up of three short boards. They are then glued in place at each corner as well as mid way along the front and back. ~ 7 ~

8 Build the Base Connector bolts Connector bolts 8a Cap nuts Insert nuts are attached to the base blocking (see 8c) as well as with attaching the bookcase top (9c). S R 8c View from the back of the bookcase 8b Note the connector bolts in place (cap nuts are out of view). There are a total of eight which join sides B and C. See their locations in 4a by Jeff Branch Set the bookcases in place on the base. Form the base blocking (parts R and S) and slide them into place at each corner as shown. Mark their location and also locate the hole needed for the insert nuts. Remove the bookcases and glue the blocking to the base. Drill the holes in the top of the blocking for insert nuts and screw them in place. Note: You can order the hardware shown in 8a by following these links to Rockler.com: connector bolts, part click here; cap nuts, part click here; insert nuts, or as Rockler calls them hex drive threaded inserts, part click here. ~ 8 ~

9 Step Four: Add the Crown Molding 2 23/64 In illustration 9a, left, determine the distance in which the crown extends outward from the case sides and front. First, take a scrap piece of wood and cut the end of it the same angle as the crown. Measure the distance as shown and add that to the dimensions of the bookcase front and sides. This becomes the final size for the top, part T. U U 9a View from the back of the bookcase 2011 by Jeff Branch Connector bolts In illustration 9b, right, drill holes for the insert nuts on the outer corners of the bookcase as shown. Transfer these locations to the top and drill holes for connector bolts. In the illustration, I have added counter sink holes so the connector bolts will be flush with the top (optional). Attach the top to the bookcase using only the connector bolts. U T V Cut the crown molding to fit. Attach the crown to the top with glue and brads. Add brads and glue at the mitered corners of the crown. Do not glue the crown molding to the sides of the bookcase. Insert nuts 9b ~ 9 ~

10 Step Five: Final Assembly With the crown molding in place, attach the base cap moldings with brads and glue, making sure to attach them only to the cases and not the base. Lastly, cut and install the adjustable shelves. I simply used oak dowels as shelf supports. Adding a finish The client specified pine for this bookcase. When selecting a finish for yours, the species of wood used plays an important role in determining how to finish it: does it need to be colored by a stain? Is it a wood that is difficult to stain evenly? I used a pre stain conditioner to help even out the typical color variations associated with pine, referred to as blotching. Once that had been applied, I added a medium brown oil based stain and then applied several coats of a satin polyurethane. Making the back of the bookcase removable came in handy when applying the finish. G Use the finishing process of your liking and then enjoy your bookcase! Note: this bookcase is tall and narrow. When setting the bookcase up, make sure it is plumb. You should consider attaching it to the wall by Jeff Branch. Project design and construction by Jeff Branch. Woodworking plan story, photography, illustration and page layout by Jeff Branch. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited. See additional woodworking plans W W Jeff Branch WOODWORKING X Rev ~ 10 ~

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