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#20 – custom bookshelf {52 Projects}

October 7, 2012

52 projects The problem with waiting almost 5 months to write a post is that my brain gets a little foggy on the details.    With four kids, my brain is a little disorganized to start with.   LOL    I’ll do my best to recall the details of this project, as I’m very proud of how it turned out.   This post is the reason that I haven’t updated my 52 Projects.   I like to keep my posts in chronological order, and the photos weren’t ready for the write up until just a couple of days ago.   They were in my backlog, and I just kept forgetting to get to them.    But now here I am, sitting down to write this, and then you can expect MANY more posts showing off what I’ve been doing this year.

If you’ve been following along, I wrote about my craft room renovations months ago.    With a new craft room, a craft desk is necessary.   And I had big plans for such a desk.   The plans for my new desk included a custom bookshelf as one of the supports.    I built it myself, using one of Ana White’s plans for a start but with modifications.    I already had one bookshelf for the other support, so it was necessary to match the height of that bookshelf when building the new one. I started with Ana’s plans for the Modern Craft Table but only making one of the bookshelves, with a much shallower front shelf.    I knew that I wanted to use this bookshelf to store my Cricut cartridges, so they were front and center, and within easy reach when I needed them.

You can see my notes on the printout from Ana’s site, as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do.   My final goals for measurements are on the left.

Planned dimensions of final product: Height 29½” Width of entire bookshelf 29″ Width of main bookshelf 22″ Depth of main bookshelf 12″ Width of front bookshelf 10½” Depth of front bookshelf  5½” I don’t know that I have an actual list of materials for this bookshelf, but as I reach into my cobwebbed memory, I’ll do my best to reconstruct what I used.   I used a lot of 1×12 boards to make this bookshelf.


Here are my supplies all laid out on top of the door that’s on the existing bookshelf.

I’ll start off by sharing a tip that I learned in the process of making this.   I found that a few of my 1×12 boards were bowed in the center.   And bowed boards really can make the final measurements off, because you lose inches in width when the center is bowed.    I did some researching online and found some suggestions for reversing the bowing that really helped. Here is one of the bowed boards before reversing the bow

What I did was take the board and put it on cool grass (so I picked grass that was in the shade earlier in the day), with the bow open to the grass side. I let it sit there for at least 2 hours but no more than 4.

Then the board went on the hot driveway for at least an hour. The combination of the cooler grass (and some evaporation of water from the grass that’s absorbed into the wood) and the hot driveway forced the wood to bow in the other direction. I kept an eye on the board during the process, so that I didn’t have too much bowing in the other direction. I had several boards like this, and I had at least one that bowed too much the opposite way. So I repeated the grass/driveway combo and fixed it.   It’s not perfect, but it’s a LOT better than it was to begin with!

I used a Kreg Jig Jr. and wood glue to join everything together.    I swear by my Kreg Jig, it really is a fantastic little helper.  I used a circular saw to make all of my cuts (and created a lot of sawdust in the process). Here you can see the front bookshelf for the Cricut cartridges coming together.

The hardest part was building the front shelf, joining everything else was relatively easy, since everything was cut.  It was important to join the fixed bowed boards as soon as possible after reversing the bowing.  Because the wood was prone to bowing again, I think just due to changes in humidity.   Once a fixed board was screwed and glued into place, the bowing did not return. I guess I didn’t take as many photos as I thought I did.   The top board is MDF, and spans both bookshelves.  I believe that’s the only board that isn’t 1×12.   I couldn’t use the Kreg Jig on the MDF, due to its composition.   I used finishing nails and wood glue to hold it in place. Then I primed and painted.    I went with Behr’s Swiss Coffee for the color, which matches the trim in the room.

How awesome do my Cricut shelves look?!

I have to share another tip with you, as this has been such a lifesaver in many painting projects for me this summer.   I hate it when the items I’m painting either stick to the cardboard that’s protecting my floor or pick up paint from other projects.    So I took packing tape and stuck it to the bottom of the shelves.

Similarly, I like to paint all of the way around, to include some of the underside.   I have scrap 2x2s that I use to lift up what I’m painting.  But first, I put fresh packing tape on them to protect what I’m painting. I replace the packing tape every time I paint something new.   In the photo below, the old bookshelf is upside down so I could paint the underside of both the top and bottom pieces. I said in the beginning that my intention was to match the height of a bookshelf I already had for the support.   Well, somehow I messed that up.   I had to add some height to the old bookshelf so that the two support bookshelves were the exact same height to hold the top. I didn’t want to risk the clamps leaving marks in the wood, so I used scrap wood between the clamps and the shelves.

The rest of the desk will be a separate blog post, as finishing the top involved many many hours of work, and that fell into a different week of my 52 weeks’ worth of projects.    But I’ll leave you with a view of the custom bookshelf in the new craft room so you can see how lovely it is.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the creation of my bookshelf. I’m quite proud of it, and any time I bring someone new into my craft room, I brag a little about how I made the bookshelf all by myself. Please let me know if I can answer any questions about the process. I’ll try to get back to update this post with more specifics on the cut list for this project.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2012 7:43 pm

    Awesome!! I am absolutely going to be asking a LOT of questions about this and maybe even asking for help one day. At some point I have to build a bookshelf at the end of our counter in the kitchen. We left a bump-out for one when we installed the granite. That was in Jan and no progress has been made on that… it’s on the list..somewhere…

    • coolmama72 permalink*
      October 8, 2012 4:27 pm

      Anytime, Scottie, just let me know. 🙂

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