The bookshelf building continues…
Last time I showed how I drew up the plans and cut all of the pieces. This time, I will show you how I constructed the shelf.
I will start out by saying this is the most difficult part of building this bookshelf. Cutting the wood and painting/staining it is the easy part.
To start, I laid out each leg of the bookshelf similar to how they would be on the final bookshelf. This way I could put the better side of the boards on the outside where it would show.
Next I came up with a system to label each end and side of the boards so that I could keep track of what boards went where. If you couldn’t tell already, I am very meticulous when I build things.
Once the legs were labeled I began to make the ladders for each side. Ana White’s plan only has four shelves, but I adjusted the height of the legs so that I could add an extra shelf. I marked each leg before attaching the support pieces. Each support piece is 15 1/2″ apart and are 10 degrees off the square. The bottom shelf is 9 3/8″ from the bottom.
Starting from the bottom the measurements would be as follows: 9 3/8″, 24 7/8″, 40 3/8″, 55 7/8″, 71 3/8″
Remember to attach each support at a 10 degree angle off the square so that the shelves will be horizontal when the ladders lean in towards each other. This is very important. If you forget to do this you will end up with a bookshelf that looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book.
Attach the supports onto the legs by using the pocket holes that you made previously. Once all the supports are attached to one leg, line up the second leg on top and attach it. I found it easiest to attach all the supports to one leg and then flip that leg over and screw it to the other leg.
Once this ladder is done, you get to do it all over again for the next one.
If you read through Ana White’s plan, she says that the hardest parts are done and all that you have to do is attach the shelves. Well, either Ana White has a magical fairy in her workshop or she just forgot just how hard it is to attach a few shelves. Attaching the shelves was by far the hardest part. Don’t let this discourage you though because it is possible and it can be done with a little help and a lot of patience.
I started by laying the bookshelf flat on my work table so that I could line everything up before screwing on the shelves. I marked each shelf with where it should line up with the support. Since the ladders lean into each other, this marking is different for each shelf. I used the same measurements as Ana White until I got to the additional fifth shelf. Measuring from the end of each shelf, they are as follows:
Top: 16 1/2″
Bottom: 5 5/8″
Then I spent hours adjusting and readjusting the shelves until they all lined up perfectly. Now I will admit this; it took me this long because I mis-marked the bottom shelf on one side to 4 5/8″ instead of 5 5/8″. Once I realized this, everything lined up much better. Moral of the story is to always check your measurements twice. It can make all the difference.
Once everything was lined up nice and neat, I began by attaching the top and the bottom shelves first. I used a counter sink drill bit and 1 1/2″ #6 screws to attach the shelves.
I then measured the angle of the shelf against the leg to make sure that they were all 10 degrees. I won’t bore you and explain the geometry behind it, but just trust me that the angle should be 10 degrees. (Or you can do the geometry if you are just dying to do some math problems)
Once all of the shelves are attached, you are pretty much done.
The last thing to do is to stand it up and admire all of your hard work. Oh and I guess you should probably paint or stain it, but I will save that for a later post.
This was my most difficult project yet, but all of the hard work that went into it made it just that much better when it was finished. Now to find the perfect color to paint it.