Wednesday, May 13, 2015

You Can't Have Enough Bookshelves

Long time readers will know that I NEED space to store all my books that I own. They are my entertainment hedge if the world should go to pot and I need to seclude myself inside for years while a nuclear holocaust clears or a zombie apocalypse kills itself off. In my first house I built a large built-in bookcase on either side of our fireplace. In this house, I built an even larger version taking up an entire wall in our downstairs family room and immediately filled it with all my books as you can see in the linked post. Most of those books are ones that I have read and have deemed excellent enough to hang onto for future use but I do keep a couple shelves for unread books. This way when I return a finished book, I have a selection at hand to choose from.

Time went by and I grew lazy enough to start a "to read" pile next to my bed so that if I finished a book in the minutes before I drifted off to sleep, I could grab another one without having to make a journey downstairs. As can be expected with my addiction to books, that stash kept getting bigger until the pile turned into several. Along the way, I had memories of a bookshelf built by a blogger who no longer blogs floating around in my brain and I thought this might be a great use of that idea. Plus I had a dovetail jig that I haven't used since I bought it with some Christmas money given to me by my parents that would create strong enough joints to hold all those books with just a little bit of glue. Thus my idea for building a bookshelf for my bedroom wall was born.

I had some leftover pine board ends from a basement shelving project so I ripped those down to size and decided on using half-blind dovetails for the corners and sliding dovetails for the intersection since both those could be done on the same template for my jig. It took awhile to set up the depth stops on the jig with scrap materials but once set up, it took me about five minutes to do all the dovetail work. After that, it was just a lot of clamps and glue. The boards weren't as straight at I would have liked so several of them have slight bows in them. If I had a continuous surface on which to attach the shelf instead of only 3 studs spaced 16 inches apart, I could have removed the bows somewhat to where they weren't so noticeable. Since I couldn't do that here, I just attached it to the wall the best I could and called it good enough.

After doing all the dovetailing, I hated to cover it up with white paint, but pine boards just didn't go with the rest of the bedroom decor. I struggled a bit with how I should hang this book shelf on the wall. At first I was thinking small metal brackets but I thought those would be too visible and ruin the look. Then I thought about using actual white brackets that were made from the same material but aesthetically is just didn't look right in my mind. Then it hit me that perhaps I could use my Kreg pockethole jig that I had bought years ago with more Christmas money. I drilled five pocketholes in areas over studs and screwed it to the wall. Because the fasteners are below and above eye level, they are invisible for now. I can plug them and paint over so you would never see any of the fasteners ever again but we are going to repaint the wall later this year and I don't want to paint around the shelf. Also, if for some reason we get our dream house built and need to sell this place, I may want to take this with me.

Warning: Only about half my bedside stash of books are shown in this picture!


sage said...

Nice work! We have lots of bookshelves here (a room with a whole wall and shelves by the fireplace) which are adequate until I retire and have to find a place for the books in my office :)

Ed said...

Sage - I know this is almost blasphemous but I've been thinking about letting some of my books go to other people at a garage sale we'll be having here in a few weeks. Of course it would be only those I read but didn't think were that great but still...

jambaloney said...


I envy your skill - those joints are perfect as are the angles - i could never match that craftsmanship.

it looks really really professional!


kymber said...

Ed - when we left the city, i had to get rid of about 200 books. i love books and therefore i love bookshelves! you do such awesome work - i always show jam your work - he is always impressed and knows all of the terms for the stuff you build - i don't know the terms but i recognize beautiful quality workmanship when i see it! and no, there is no such thing as having enough bookshelves!

your friend,

Anonymous said...


Ed said...

Jambaloney - And I could never match your ingenuity and recycling skills!

Kymber - Get rid of books, blasphemy! Actually I may weed out a few here in a couple weeks when we hold a neighborhood garage sale. But it will be the ones I really didn't enjoy much! With your husband's ingenuity and recycling skills and my craftsmanship, we should start a business. Jambaloney and Ed's Fine Old Things!

Woody - I thought it turned out well plus the first thing I see when I wake up is my future reading material.