Monday, July 18, 2016

New Living Room Bookshelves

A little over 2 years ago I made 2 bookshelves and a TV stand for my new house in Arizona.


A nice as they were, I decided to fix up an older table and make it my new TV stand.


I love the new stand, but the bookshelves no longer match it.  So I decided to pick up a bunch of wood from the store to make some new shelves.


I really had no plans made for these.  I figured I'd just wing it.  I started off by measuring and marking the pieces for the shelves.


These 1x10 boards are 6 feet long, so I set up my table saw extensions...


...and trimmed the pieces.


Then I clamped all the shelf boards together and trimmed the edges with my circular saw and guide.  This made 6 shelves - all the same length.


I repeated the process with 4 more pieces of wood to make the sides of the shelves.


Before long I had everything I needed to begin.


On the 4 side pieces I marked the positions of each shelf.


I then cut some scrap wood to act as spacers while attaching the shelves to the sides.


With my positions and spacers made, I began drilling pocket holes in each piece of wood.


This took a bit of time.


Then I sanded each piece of wood.  This also took some time.


But when all that was done I began assembling the shelves.  I used some of my rarely-used corner clamps to help me attach the bottom shelf to one side.  I need to use these clamps more often!


I also used bar clamps with the spacers to make sure nothing moved while I was screwing the shelves to the sides.


After a short while 1 bookcase carcass was done.


I repeated the steps for the second carcass.


The spacers worked like a charm!  Putting both carcasses next to each other you can see that all the shelves are level.


Now it was time to make the legs and frame.  For this I'll be using 2x2s.


I set up my miter saw cart with the arms up, and the extension attached.  I placed a board on the extension with a clamp to act as a stop block.  Then I began cutting.


Cutting all the wood for the legs and frames took a total of about 5 minutes.


  At the time I was making this, it was summer in Arizona and my workshop was HOOOOOT!  I probably had sweat off about 20 pounds in the few hours that it took me to get to this point, so I took a break and waited until the hot AZ sun was down to continue working.  I attached the legs, using clamps and pocket screws.


After the legs were on, I attached the horizontal rails.


I finished the first one before calling it a night.


The next morning I finished the second one.  As I showed these bookshelves to my girlfriend, she noted that they were a bit shorter than our current bookshelves.


So I went back to the store and bought some more wood.  This time I measured our current shelves and set up a stop block on the miter saw.  For these new legs I'll be using some 1x2 wood.


I cut 8 new legs and glued/nailed them to the existing legs.


Of course, these thinner legs won't do, plus the shorter ones are still there....


So I measured the space between the shorter and longer legs and cut 8 small pieces of 2x2.


Then I glued and nailed them in place so that all the leg pieces line up.


It's just a few inches, but you can see the difference between the taller one on the left and the shorter one on the right.


Next I cut some 1x6 boards...


...drilled some pocket holes...


...and attached them to the bottom of the shelves and the new legs.


These boards close up the larger gap that was created by the longer legs.


And now both bookshelves are at the right height!  


Now it was time to work on the tops.  I measured and marked a sheet of 2'x4' plywood (3/4").


For the sides of the top I used a french curve to make a nice design.


Then I cut the board to size on the table saw.


Using my jigsaw, I cut out the curved sides.


And one top complete!  


I used this top as a template for the other top.


Then I glued and nailed the tops to the rest of the bookshelves.


After the tops dried, I cut some 1/4" plywood to fit the backs of each bookshelf.


Then I glued and nailed the backs on.


Having backs on these is nice, and something my girlfriend really wanted.


I let the backs dry before proceeding to...


...sanding with medium grit sandpaper.


Then I used my trim router to make a nice curve on the edges of the tops.


Then I sanded the plywood edges with medium and fine sandpaper.  I also cut some leftover 1x2 boards to make a back ledge on the top of each bookshelf.


Next I used wood filler to fill in the holes from the nail gun.  I decided to leave all the other holes or gaps on the bookshelves as-is.


Once the filler dried I gave both bookshelves one last sanding with some very fine sandpaper on my polisher/sander.  This thing is crazy fast.


Once done, the shelves were silky smooth.  I blew dust off with a leaf blower, then cleaned with warm water and a rag, followed by a tack cloth.


The next day I began staining.


I used the same stain as I did on my new TV stand.


However all those pesky pocket holes are visible since I didn't fill them.


To fix that and add a look I've been doing lately, I sprayed some flat black spray paint in various areas.  The paint covers up the pocket holes, plus adds a more varied, rustic look.


Once both shelf units were stained, wiped and spray painted I let them dry for about 8 hours.


Once they were dry to the touch I sprayed on a few layers of polycrylic.  This is a new clear coat spray that I have come to love - it dries fast and has almost no smell.


I sprayed a few layers of this onto the bookshelves to ensure everything was dry and had a little bit of coating before I began brushing on polyurethane.  The polycrylic also keeps the black paint from thinning while polyurethane is applied.


I applied several coats of polyurethane, sanding when dry and cleaning before the next application.  After the last application I let the bookshelves dry overnight.


Once fully dry I empties my old bookshelves...


...took them away, and then put my new ones in place.


Then my girlfriend and I put everything in place.


Everything looks great!


There's more room on each bookshelf so we were able to fit more books and nick-nacks.


And the new shelves match the new TV stand!


I'm so happy I did this.  I loved the old bookshelves, but the new ones are much nicer!


Thanks for reading!

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