One of the first pieces of furniture a woodworker frequently attempts is a bookcase or shelving unit of some sort. There are many things to consider when deciding on the bookcase size and style you are going to build. First off, where will it be placed? Will it be built in? Will it be free standing or up against a wall? How tall do you want it? Will it hold hard cover books, pocket novels, knick knacks or dolls to name a few possibilities? If the book shelf is free standing an important decision will be will it be open or will it have a back? Or will it have both a back and doors?
The answers to these questions are important to determine prior to building for a variety of reasons. The most basic is that you want the book case or shelves to fit where you intend to put them. You want them to be strong enough to hold what you plan to put on them. And finally you want to be proud of how they look.
There are plans available for book shelves that can be made in a few hours and more complicated bookcases that may take you a whole weekend. Style becomes at concern at this point. Do you want to create a bookshelf in the classic craftsman style to name one or will a plain box with shelves work for this project? Once you have determined what style you would like, your next logical step would be to choose your wood. Will the book shelf be made of solid wood or plywood? You can use oak plywood and add a frame to the front of the box to end up with a high end look without the cost of using solid woods.
Another consideration goes into the construction. Do you want the shelves to be fixed or movable? If fixed, then dado joints and glue are a good option. If you want to be able to move the shelving, there are various kinds of brackets that can either be made or purchased that work well. One of my preferences are metal brackets that can be mounted in a dado on the sides of the shelving you. Then you use metal clips that can be moved to any height you need or want.
Once you have gone through the check list below, you are ready to go and buy your lumber and supplies and start building. Remember to prepare a drawing with your dimensions indicated and a cutting list. Cut all the pieces first and then you can assemble. Go ahead and get started!
7 Point checklist before you can get started
Location for the shelves in the house or workshop
Style of construction
Shelves – Movable or fixed
Wood type – Solid or plywood