Disclaimer: I am not a professional/certified carpenter of any sort and by no means an authority on carpentry. This tutorial is the documentation of a perpetual amateur taking a stab at yet another craft. Therefore, whatever I state here is just an opinion on way method of constructing a bookcase based on personal experience. That being said, I will be more than glad to give you my take on this tutorial and answer all questions in the comments section as long as you regard it as just that: my take. And even more so, I would love to receive some constructive criticism just as long as it is just that: creative criticism. All other comments I will not delete (this is a free country), but I will not give them the satisfaction of a response, either.

This tutorial will teach you how to construct a Nomadic Media Bookcase similar to below. This bookcase has shelves designed to hold the maximum amount of CDs, DVDs, and VHS possible. In addition, as will be the case in all of my designs, there will be one allotted display shelf. 

What is a "Nomadic" Bookcase, you ask? Well, it's really anything utilizing Nomadic Technology. That is, primarily, technology of easy dissassembly,/reassembly, construction, & durability. Think if you were a nomad and had to have your stuff on the go for the Zombie Apocalypse. There are greater explanations out there for those curious (http://www.instructables.com/id/Woodworking-Making-wood-projects-without-using-na/). 

Nomadic technology seems to primarily rely on Nail-less technology or Irish Carpentry. That is, Mortise & Tenon style. See my last post for an explanation (here). You have 3 components of this design:

1. Mortise - the piece that will run through.
2. Tenon - the piece doing the running through of.
3. Peg - the piece that pins it all together.
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showmee2 years ago
wow, wood-burning elvish prints -- that sounds fantastic! like, the elvish language?
zachsoniasummers (author)  showmee1 year ago

Yes. It's currently way on the backburner of my wife's creative to-do list. She's a huge Tolkienite.

jesanddoug1 year ago

Hi Zach!

My boyfriend and I are attempting to make a nomadic bookshelf based on your examples of the bookcase and media shelf. We purchased all the wood, measured it out and then started trying to cut. We have a 3 Amp Black & Decker jigsaw, but we couldn't get it to cut well. We were going at an inch an hour rate. Did you use this jigsaw? If we bought a more expensive, high-powered jigsaw would that potentially work better? Any other thoughts? We have all the wood and are really excited about completing this project!

zachsoniasummers (author)  jesanddoug1 year ago

Hi Jes & Doug!

Sorry for the delay: just finished grad school. Yes, you will need a higher-power jigsaw, but not that much higher: mine is only a 4.5 AMP, and its served me faithfully the last 3 years.



Beardmancer3 years ago
I'm really excited to start building one of these. Thanks for the plans!

I'm a bit confused about the measurements, however. Some of them seem way off. On the part "PEGS (X8)," it looks like the measurements are way too small compared to it's neighbor, "BOTTOM PEGS (X2)." I also think there is at least one problem with "SIDES/MORTISES (x2)" (3/4" for the width of the board doesn't seem right).

I can certainly figure out the correct measurements on my own, but I want to make sure I'm not going crazy. Some of these are incorrect, right?
zachsoniasummers (author)  Beardmancer3 years ago
Feel free to try out your own measurements; these ones have worked for me and my wife for the past year. Keep in mind you have to account for other things when looking at this blueprint: planing, shrinkage, expansion, compression, etc.

Good luck!
Ah, okay. I'll work through it, then.

Just FYI, I attached an image showing the discrepancy I think I'm seeing. The two measurements circled in red are supposed to be the same value, right?
zachsoniasummers (author)  Beardmancer3 years ago
And I'll make corrections eventually. In the middle of a move. Which, as I said before, the bookcases did beautifully in the process. You really will want to have pair of these babies.

Take a look (and pardon the mess; still moving in):
Ha, nice. No worries on the mess. My living room floor is a much greater mess than that; hence then bookcase hunting. :)
zachsoniasummers (author)  Beardmancer3 years ago
Ah. It looks like Google Sketchup's draft program ran the wrong conversion and I didn't spot it. Thanks for the catch! Go with the circled measurement on the right: it's the correct one.
Great concept. Had a few questions about your plans (pdf); the tenon slot in your pictures looks to be off set closer to the middle of the board then the end of the board but in the plans seems centered there is no mesurement one way or the other, it also shows the width (front of tenon to back of tenon) for the peg slot to be 1-1/2 inch x Length (end to median) to be 1-3/4 inch while the peg is only 1-3/4 inch at its widest. I was also wondering if I missed something but you said you used 2 2x8x16 for Mortises and Tenons 32 feet wood length but your plans call for 34 feet. Sorry to come off as a dbag but was just wondering. Great Idea though, plan to build both of your shelves this weekend.
"The tenon slot in your pictures looks to be off set closer to the middle of the board then the end of the board but in the plans seems centered there is no mesurement one way or the other."

It is offset. I'm not a professional carpenter, nor literal by any means. I go by feel and adjust as I go along.

What I do is I measure from the back, and allow for whatever change is left over, so yes, there is going to be a little difference on the widths.

"I was also wondering if I missed something but you said you used 2 2x8x16 for Mortises and Tenons 32 feet wood length but your plans call for 34 feet."

Actually, I think we're both wrong on this point. It should have been 3 2x8x16 = 32 feet worth of tenons (4ft long times 8) + 14 feet worth of mortises (7ft long times 2) = 46 feet.

Does that help?

Please take photos and send them to me! I will create a "bookcases made by other people" section just for you!
KittyF4 years ago
here's a thought. your holes look oval, rounded at the ends. if your drill bit is the right size you can drill a hole at each end, then use your jig saw to connect the holes. voila! no turns with the jig saw!

Saw my granddad do that many many moons ago. He built a whole house. twice. LOL
zachsoniasummers (author)  KittyF4 years ago
Wonderful idea! I actually go back and forth between the two methods. I simply posted the technique I'm more comfortable with. Your suggestion (due to my amateur hand) results in more clean up. I want to get better at it, though, because it would produce straighter lines in the end.

Ummm, what's your granddad's address? I'd love to glean some of his wisdom. Lol.
I'm sorry, you'll have to find a younger person's address. my granddad's address is Heaven '72 , LOL it was always fun watching and helping him with his projects. I learned a lot I didn't even remember I knew.

you keep practicing and you'll find it results in less clean up after you get that technique down.
zachsoniasummers (author)  KittyF4 years ago
Lol. Well your grandfather has my respect. I will continue to work on that technique of his. I do always favor less clean up.
what you're doing when you connect the two holes is going from the extreme right of the bottom hold to the extreme right of the top hole, and then turn around and do it again on the other side. there really should be no clean up at all, if you get it over far enough. it's the aiming and getting right to the edge and no further, that saves you a bundle of time.

Try laying a straight edge on the outside of the holes to connect them, then mark a pencil line connecting them on each side of the holes so you can follow the pencil marks with your jig saw. That should do it. of course you'll still have to sand or file, but it should be much easier this way, I think.
Coati4 years ago
Love the book case here is a little different way to make the mortise I like.Keep up the good work excellent instructions.
photo (3).JPG
zachsoniasummers (author)  Coati4 years ago
Thanks for this post! What angle do you cut your wedges at? Mine tend to be to wide on one end.
Not sure on the exact angle, not much just kind of sanded it to a slight bevel.But If you see how my shelf locks into the groove I cut into the side or leg.Makes it a lot stronger and easily done with a circular saw with the cut depth pre-set and a good chisel.I never got around to cutting a half oval or v into the bottom of the legs as well as some shaping on the top of the sides seeing yours might just get me up and making some more sawdust.Thanks 

batman12984 years ago
very nice ible . but i would like to point something out you refer to your craftsmanship as being sloppy and being climsy. in my opinion you did a very good job and if you were to rough up the wood a little bit and put a multi layer antique finish on it people would think it was a antique. also the design you made would be referred to as country furniture which is never perfect looks good and is functional. keep up the good work
zachsoniasummers (author)  batman12984 years ago
Batman, you are my new best friend.
Hi, some PDF files on this subject you to send me an email
zachsoniasummers (author)  GOLBABA4 years ago
Golbaba, 2 of these steps are downloadable PDFs. Additionally, you can download the entire Instructable itself as a PDF.
Another trick for drilling squares out is to drill a hole into each corner of the square then stick your drill bit in and you're always cutting straight sides! :)
Hi, some PDF files on this subject you to send me an email
(see my response below to to Kittyf) It's a good idea, I just don't have the best personal experience with that technique.
Archergal524 years ago
This is one of the most thorough and easy-to-follow 'ibles I think I've ever seen. I think even *I* could do this!

Well done!
zachsoniasummers (author)  Archergal524 years ago
Well if I can do it, you must certainly can. Prior to this endeavor, I had zero experience with woodwork & it turned out fine.
BRUL4 years ago
shouldn't there be 16 pegs? Instead of 8?
zachsoniasummers (author)  BRUL4 years ago
Quite right. The error has been fixed. Thanks for letting me know.
aloseman4 years ago
Anyone notice the Tardis in the blueprints?
Great design by the way. And I like how you wrote it up to be thorough, whilst remaining simple.
zachsoniasummers (author)  aloseman4 years ago
Thanks. That is my attempt: simplicity through thoroughness.
kvoss14 years ago
Zach, since the unit is quite tall and not very deep, do you use anything to prevent the unit from tipping over, like a bracket fastening it to the wall?
zachsoniasummers (author)  kvoss14 years ago
Kvoss, I'm now on my 3rd of this exact bookcase. I've not experienced any tipping. The weight of the wood lends a lot to this.

If you want to, you can do what I did after the tutorial: cut a half oval out of the bottom of the sides. This creates legs, allowing for more stability.
sarawelder4 years ago
excellent ible. I love your attention to detail in the instructions.I am looking forward to making this!
zachsoniasummers (author)  sarawelder4 years ago
Thanks Sara!
Hey, I could actually do this! Thanks!
This was my thought. I saw someone else do something more flimsy and I thought, "Hey, I could do this and make it sturdier!"
My only change would be toward a 1" board as opposed to 2" boards and shallower shelves. I don't have CDs and books to put on them but very lightweight wood projects that don't weigh much. Your idea will transfer easily. Thank you for being so clear and concise, as well as helpful. I've learned a lot from you today.
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