Help with ladder style bookcase

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Forum topic by RD87 posted 04-19-2016 12:53 PM 347 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 222 days

04-19-2016 12:53 PM

My girlfriend saw this open ladder-style bookcase in a store, and being the cheap-o I am, I told her we did not need to spend $150 and that I could build the same one for much less. Well, now shes on my case about getting it done and I am hoping some of the more experienced woodworkers here can give me some advice on the best way to join all the parts.

As you can see, it appears that the shelves are “floating” and I really have no idea how to do this and make it structurally sound. Upon closer inspection, the shelves looked like a thinner piece for the top and what seemed to be like edge-banding that extended past the bottom so that it could be screwed to the sides from underneath to hide the joinery. Is this a good idea, or are there better ways to do it?

Also, any insight as to joining the angled tops would be much appreciated as well.

I am going to be using pine, and I was thinking of either mitering the top angles and gluing them together, or doing some sort of half lap or potentially figuring out some sort of mortise and tenon configuration. If anyone knows a better or easier way, please let me know.

The bookcase will be holding a bunch of law-school textbooks, so it needs to be pretty sturdy.

The tag said it was finished with a white lacquer, and it has almost a plastic-like feel to it. Is there another way to paint or finish this white and get a nice smooth feel to the book case? I am relatively new to woodworking and even more so when it comes to finishing. I have painted a few projects before, but they always come out feeling a bit rough and not at all like something you would buy at a store. Maybe its a technique thing or maybe I am using the wrong kind of paint.

Sorry for the long-winded post, but any help would be much appreciated.


4 replies so far

View RJweb's profile


84 posts in 2052 days

#1 posted 04-19-2016 02:33 PM

I made a few of theses I used dowels to secure the floating shelves, and for the top angle, thx RJ

-- Life Begins @ 190 MPH

View sepeck's profile


314 posts in 1561 days

#2 posted 04-19-2016 03:03 PM

Ana White’s site is full of plans that copy what stores sell. Generally her stuff can be done with basic tools as well. As for paint, my only suggestion is to get some extra wood and practice your finish on the extra pieces rather then on your finished project.

Some additional links I came across that may have alternative methods.

Have fun.

-- -Steven Peck,

View RD87's profile


16 posts in 222 days

#3 posted 04-20-2016 07:41 PM

Thanks for the responses, I appreciate the tips!

I took a look at those links and I have a much better idea of whats involved.


View AlaskaGuy's profile


2392 posts in 1729 days

#4 posted 04-21-2016 08:09 AM

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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