Pair of large Bookcases

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Project by Don Johnson posted 12-29-2011 02:47 PM 2027 views 3 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My son has been extending and improving his home – including making himself a proper study. He asked me if I could make him some bookcases as he found ready-made store versions either not good enough, or too expensive. He sent me the sketch in pic 4, saying he only wanted a simple design, although they would be quite large. We talked about shelf loading, and the cost of solid timber, but finally compromised on 3/4 inch oak-veneered MDF with solid oak facings to help – a little – with reducing shelf sag. We worked out where the heaviest items should be placed, but if there is a tendency towards bowing elsewhere, I may install some middle supports on the shelves, which are 39 inches wide!

Construction was pretty straightforward, but as my son lives a 3-hour drive away from me, and my car is a little Citroen C3, it was obvious that I would have to assemble the bookcases at his home. Most of the parts just about fitted into my compact auto, but only by moving the front seats forward and resting them on their headrests was I able to get the 54 inch by 39 inch back panels for the top shelves into the car. If he had asked for a design only one inch larger it would not all have gone in! As we already had a visit planned, there was a bit of a rush to get finished in time, but I just managed it with a couple of hours to spare.

I employed dowel joints using my Joint Genie jig, but to glue everything together I did not have enough clamps. So my son agreed to buy me some more, partly as thanks for making the bookcases and also as my Christmas present. After filling and sanding I left him to do the finish himself, which he did using a poly varnish to try to match the room door – which it does perfectly.

I have to say that the Cut List plugin for Sketchup was a great help, especially as I got the MDF supplier to cut the pieces to size. Although it felt a little like cheating, the cost was minimal, and there was no way I could have got the 8 ft x 4 ft sheets into my Citroen anyway. What a delight to work with pieces all exactly to size and dead square!

My son and his wife are delighted with their shelves, so ‘Pop’ has gained a few more Brownie points!

-- Don, Somerset UK,

4 comments so far

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 2554 days

#1 posted 12-29-2011 03:16 PM

Very nice job. These will last a long time compared to most store bought junk. You did good and got some clamps too!

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3196 days

#2 posted 12-29-2011 05:28 PM


Really nice job. Both of you did well, and as usual, your workmanship is flawless. I like the design, and the exrcution, but if your son is llike my son-in-law, you will need to do it again.

I loaded a similar load, for a similar project, all solid pine, into a ‘72 Fiat 128 hatchback ‘way back when. Amazing what we can get in when we have to. Happy and safe New Year.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3723 days

#3 posted 12-29-2011 06:06 PM

A really nice gift for your son

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View kiefer's profile


5619 posts in 2813 days

#4 posted 12-31-2011 05:18 PM

That is a pretty big job for retirement DON and great work .
Take it easy and enjoy yourself in the new year .

Happy New Year and good health to you .


-- Kiefer

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