How To Build A Home Office – The Bookcase

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In last month’s post, I explained how to build an L-shaped desk based on a project I carried out several years ago.

The reason I built my own desk, apart from the fact that I needed a separate writing space was that I was in the same boat as a lot of new freelancers and money wasn’t as flush as it could have been.

Not long after I built the desk, I decided that I needed to tidy up what was fast becoming my dedicated office. I had books and papers everywhere, both for business and pleasure.

With money still not being in any particular abundance but being in need of a solid book case, I set out to create my own – and it wasn’t as hard as you might think.

NB: I wanted to make a 4 shelf bookcase that was 6 foot tall, 2 foot wide and 10 inches deep. As with the desk project, if you want to amend any of these measurements for your own project, make sure you check all of them don’t need changing, as changing one can effect all of the others..

Materials Needed

For the entire bookcase, I used plywood with a maple veneer. So you don’t have to keep reading “plywood with a maple veneer”, I’ll refer to it simply as ‘wood’ from now on

  • One piece of 6’ tall x 2’ wide x 1” thick wood (back)
  • Two pieces of 6’ tall x 10” wide x 1” thick wood (sides)
  • Three pieces of 2’ tall x 10” wide x 1” thick wood (shelves)
  • Two pieces of 22” tall x 10” wide x 1” thick wood (top and bottom)
  • Three pieces of 22” tall x 1” wide x 1” thick wood (shelf batons)
  • One piece of 6” doweling, cut up into six 1” pieces (thickness is not massively important, but keep it around the same size as a pencil for ease of use.)

Equipment Needed

  • Wood glue
  • Ten L brackets with screws (these are small brackets that are at a 90 degree angle that can join two pieces of wood together in the corner)
  • Six 1.5 inch screws
  • Electric drill
  • Drill bits
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Sandpaper
  • Old newspaper or cloth (enough to stretch along all four sides of the largest piece of wood)
  • Two heavy or sturdy objects, such as a chair or a box

Steps


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1. Start by laying the largest piece of wood (the 6 foot tall by 2 foot wide one) on the floor, with the newspaper / cloth underneath

2. Mark three points of 1.5 feet, 3 feet and 4.5 from the bottom of the wood on the left hand side. Do the same on the right hand side.

3. Carry out step 2 on both pieces of the 6 foot tall by 10 inch wide pieces of wood.

4. On these two pieces of wood, mark a point about 2 inches in from the front on each of the three lines

5. Drill a half inch hole on each of three marked points

6. Place a drop of wood glue and a piece of doweling in each hole. Leave to set.

7. Moving back to the larger piece of wood, using the spirit level, line the points that you have just marked up and draw a line with the pencil right across the entire 2 feet of the wood.

8. Mark two points, 1 inch in from either side on the line and after placing a line of glue on the back of one of the 22 inches tall by 1 inch wide pieces of wood, press it firmly on the lines. Use the spirit level to ensure it remains straight and after a few moments, place 2 of the 1.5 inch screw in the baton, 4 inches from either end.

9. Repeat the same process for the remaining two batons

10. In the four corners of the 6 foot by 2 foot wood, mark an inch in from both sides and insert one of the 4 L brackets. Only screw it down to the back; we’ll insert the other screw into what will be the sides later.

11. Along the 6 foot edge of wood, spread a line of glue along the top, in between the edge and the L brackets. Try and keep the line as straight as possible, coming away from the edge by about 2 millimeters.

12. Now for the hardest bit of the whole project – place the edge of one of the 6 foot by 2 inch pieces of wood on the glue, pressing firmly both down and up to the L brackets. There’s no need to rush here, so just hold the wood in place, wiping along the edge to remove any excess glue and making sure that on the outside, the two pieces of wood are as flush as possible with each other.

13. After a minute or two, place something against the wood to support it, such as a box or a chair. The idea is to keep the piece of wood as straight as possible, so make sure that the box or chair doesn’t push it in or let it lean out.

14. Leaving it to set for the recommended time on the pack, repeat the steps 9 and 10 for the other side.


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15. I would then recommend you leave the whole thing to dry and set properly for at least an hour or two. As much as the glue might say it sets in 30 minutes, I always find the longer you can leave, the sturdier it will be.

16. Keeping the chairs or boxes in place for added stability, affix two corner brackets under each of the three batons where the back and sides of the book case meet.

17. Affix the L brackets that were already in place at the top or bottom to the sides

18. Moving to either end of the bookcase, place a line of glue on the base (it should look like a square U) and press either of the two 2 foot wide by 10 inch deep pieces of wood to the bottom.

19. Carry out point 15 for the top of the bookcase.

20. By now, you should have the empty shell of a bookcase, with the only parts missing being the shelves. Fortunately, these are the easy parts.

21. Lift the book shelf up so it is on its end and move it to its desired location.

22. The shelves should now simply slide into the bookcase, each of them resting on the baton and the back and two pieces of doweling at the front. It might be a little bit of a squeeze, but they will go in. If you think it is too tight, just use the sandpaper to shave a little of one side off.

And there we have it – a fully functioning bookcase.

It’s worthwhile remembering that I created this bookcase (and the desk) when I was on a pretty limited budget. They aren’t particularly aesthetically pleasing compared to some of the furniture on the market, but they do the job that they were intended to be built for.

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Dan is a freelance writer and small business consultant. Dividing his time between writing for both individual clients and national corporations and giving a helping hand to many small startup companies, he has several years experience in both areas, as well as a strong background in Search Engine Optimisation.

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6 Comments

  1. Jennifer Mattern April 1, 2010 Reply

    LOL Not the hands-on type Yo?

  2. Yo Prinzel
    Yo Prinzel April 1, 2010 Reply

    I thought Clint was the comedy writer on AFW.

  3. Yo Prinzel
    Yo Prinzel April 1, 2010 Reply

    Um, no… no I’m not. I don’t even understand 90% of this post. I have never built anything in my life and power tools scare the bejeezus out of me. I’m convinced the cords still carry “juice” in them even when they’re unplugged.

    Dan, can your next one be about how to build things out of tape and paperclips? Because that I could handle.

  4. Author
    Dan Smith April 3, 2010 Reply

    Don’t worry, Yo – next month’s post is ‘How To Build A Pull Cord Light Switch With 2 Dozen Paperclips’.

    Seriously though, if you’d like me to cover anything in particular or go right back to basics with something, let me know and I’ll try and incorporate it into a post sometime.

  5. Yo Prinzel
    Yo Prinzel April 6, 2010 Reply

    I can’t think of anything because I’m so inept I just go buy pre-made stuff.

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