Before committing myself to a set of bookcase plans, I first decided to shop around for a pre-fab bookshelf, both online and at a few discount furniture stores in town. My plan was to look at a wide range of styles and prices before deciding what to buy. It didn’t take me long to discover that I really had only two choices in the matter; buy somewhat expensive crappy particle board bookcases with fake wood laminate, or buy very expensive wood bookcases that will stay in my family for the next 100 years. The good stuff would be nice, but since I can’t afford to spend $800 at Ethan Allen right now, I’m really left with just one option: the somewhat expensive crappy bookcases. It’s disappointing to think this is my only choice.
So now I’m looking at some bookcase plans, which means I’d have to take on the job of building something from scratch. I’m starting to like the idea, though. First, it’s the only other option I can find to buying expensive crappy bookcases, and second, I like the idea of deciding for myself what level of quality (and expense) I want to put into the project. I don’t want a bookcase made from the cheapest materials around, but I don’t need the most expensive either. Building my own bookcase will let me create something between these two extremes.
I’ve done a fair amount of researching on the Web, and I’ve come up with some pretty simple guidelines for approaching this kind of wood project. Overall, the good news is that you don’t have to be a hard-core woodworker to pull this thing off. In fact, a bookcase is a perfect starter project for someone just getting into building stuff from wood. Maybe it’s a little more challenging than making a sawhorse (which is also a good plan to start with), but I think it’s important for beginners to make something they can be excited about when it’s all said and done. So let’s get started with some of the basics of building a bookcase.
Three Tools – I assume that most people attempting their first bookcase project will not have a complete set of woodworking power tools in their shop – things like a table saw, drill press, router table, planer, and all that. What I do think first-time builders might (and should) have is a circular saw, a router, and a power drill. It’s pretty amazing what you can build with just a few reasonably-priced tools.
#1 Circular Saw – A circular saw will cut just about anything you can throw at it, and with a few accessories, some fairly complicated joinery. Even if you decide later to upgrade to more expensive tools, your circular saw…