This project is a bookcase for my daughter. I wanted to make this a timeless design that she can keep the rest of her life if she wants. This will be a mixture of a couple leftover sheets of good plywood I have from my home office desk and bookcase build, plus maple wood for the trim. I wanted to make sure the bookcase was built with good quality materials to last a lifetime. If you want to see the finished product, click here.
Bookcases are fun from a design standpoint, because you can start with a simple box and easily dress it up. Here’s my basic overview of what I am looking for: a simple rectangular bookcase with adjustable shelves, fluted trim, a small amount of trim detail at the base, and on feet so it can clear a typical baseboard trim and stand flush against a wall. The sketchup model I used can be downloaded here.
When construction is finished (before painting) it might look something like this:
This bookcase starts off as a simple box, pocket hole screwed together. I chose 2″ spacing for the shelf pins and made a short jig with a piece of scrap plywood. I have used this on multiple projects now, and I cannot see any need to buy a shelf pin jig when they are so easy to make yourself.
I know some people really like their store-bought jigs that cost $30-$100, but I can’t see spending the money on one myself. I’ll post my shelf pin jig details in another post. I did purchase a bulk pack of shelf pins for my last build, witch should last me quite a while.
Once the details for the base and feet have been designed, they can be cut and installed. The curves are just cut by hand on a band saw, then sanded to the line with a spindle sander, 1/4 sheet sander, and/or hand sander.
Note that I chose 4.5″ tall feet, cut from 3″x3″ oak. They are pocket-hole (Kreg) screwed into the base, and they do support the sides. Screws are hidden on the insides and back faces. The rear feet sit 3/4″ away from the wall in order to allow this bookcase to clear many baseboards. I had this 3×3 oak left over from the construction of the house, and it will be painted so I don’t feel bad mixing and matching wood species here.
Note the 5/32″ roman ogee edge I chose for the base trim. Because I cut all they plywood shelves the same width, the front trim is 1 1/2″, while the side trim is 3/4″. You can see a small triangular gap, but this will be covered by the fluted trim
I really like the way this bottom detail comes together The extra Ogee trim that bands the bottom of the bookcase really adds a dimension to this, even more than the fluted trim does. You can see that the fluted trim is made with 2 passes of a 1/2″ core box bit, not to full depth. I just eyeballed it until it looked good. There was no science here, I just made a few cuts on scrap wood until I was happy with the depth and spacing. Once cut to length, it was glued and nailed into place with a brad nailer.
Finally, I made some shelves out of 3/4″ plywood with a 2″ tall piece of maple Kreg-screwed to the front. This maple adds height to stiffen the shelf, plus has an ogee routed into the bottom edge.
I had some grand ideas about a tall piece of custom crown molding for the top of this which I may still make sometime in the distant future, but I had a stick of store-bought crown laying around from my office desk build. The instant gratification of putting this crown molding on was too big of a draw, so I attached it to some pine strips for support, and screwed it in to the top. It will be easy to remove in the future should I want to change the look, but I think it looks pretty nice right now.
The Crown is glued and nailed to a strip of pine, then screwed into the top of the cabinet. This can be removed later to update the look of the cabinet if desired. I’m still not 100% happy with my miter cuts on large crown molding like this, but I’m slowly getting better. The next steps include fitting a 1/4″ back onto the project, then paint.