Yesterday, I finished installation of the two matching bookcases that flank the fireplace insert I constructed in December. This was a difficult build as I knew I had to perfectly fit these two cases against a wall, two knee walls, and the fireplace insert…all while keeping everything parallel, level, and in-line while taking into consideration an old house with sloping floors and wavy walls.
The construction of the basic book cases was fairly straight forward; they’re just big boxes. In line with the other projects, I used 3/4” plywood for the carcass and shelves; 3/4” pine for the facing and trim; beadboard for the backing. After looking hard at our living room space, my wife decided that the cases should not include doors, as it would make the room feel smaller. I can always add them later, if she wants them. Since there is no front piece, I doubled the thickness of the top. I constructed both cases at the same time to ensure they were exactly the same dimensions. Here’s what the original glue up looked like:
I next painted the carcasses with Zinsser BIN (as on previous projects) and hauled them into the house. As I feared, nothing was holding a straight line. I spent a day trying to get everything aligned using shims, etc. It finally came together, although I had some significant gaps at the back and sides. I attached the cases with screws to the knee walls and the back wall. The next couple of days, I cut facing pieces that addressed some of the more glaring gaps. Then I made smaller patches to fill in the rest of the gaps, filled in the nail holes, etc. with putty and painted the trim. This is the final result:
I put books (of which I own many!) into the cases right away…no sagging shelves to my relief. Frankly, it turned out better than I expected and my wife is pleased. What more can you ask for? The next phase in this effort is to build a couple of pilasters on the two knee walls. Should be interesting…
-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."