Introduction: The Little Nursery Bookshelf

About: I'm a husband, dad, contractor, woodworker, tinkerer and all around busy dude. That said, I put projects out when I can. A weekly basis is a dream that one day I hope to attain. I love making things, buildin…

When you have a new baby, the life changes are innumerable. Along with those innumerable life changes, comes a slew of stuff you need in order to take care of the new addition. With that in mind, my wife and I needed a place to keep all of that stuff organized and at her disposal when she was in the nursery. So that's why we decided to make this little nursery bookshelf that also works well as an accent table next to her rocking chair.

Step 1: The Plans, Materials and Tools.

Above are the plans that I worked up in SketchUp. I followed these exactly when I made this little bookcase, and I'm really happy with the whole thing. But especially with how the legs turned out!

The Materials You'll Need:

  • 3/4" Plywood (For the box construction.)
  • 3/4" Poplar (For the legs, leg saddle, and the edge banding.)
  • Wood Glue (To glue up all of your joints.)
  • 1-1/4" Wood Screws (To attach the leg assembly to the box.)
  • Scrap 1/2" Plywood (For tapering the legs.)
  • Paint (I used Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan, along with her clear wax.)

The Tool I Used (In order of appearance):

I know this list is long, but I wanted to be thorough.

  • Japanese Dozuki Hardwood Hand Saw
  • F-Style Clamps
  • Jointer
  • Table Saw
  • Table Saw Sled
  • Combination Square
  • Moxon Vise
  • Wood Chisel
  • Pencil
  • Band Saw
  • Drill Press
  • 1/2" Forstner Drill Bit
  • Deadblow Hammer
  • Measuring Tape
  • Thickness Planer
  • Acid Brush (For applying glue.)
  • Block plane
  • 12" Framing Square
  • 1/8" Drill Bit
  • Counter Sink Drill Bit
  • Cordless Drill
  • Paint Brush
  • Shop Cloth

Keep in mind that you don't need all of these tools to make this thing. There are simple hand tools that can do the same operations. And also, woodworking is dangerous. You always need to know your equipment, it's safety features and your own limits. Always remember, SAFETY FIRST!

And now for the fun stuff, let's build the little nursery bookcase.

Step 2: Make the Leg Blanks.

I rough cut some poplar with a hand saw and glued the 3/4" pieces together. I applied clamping pressure with F-style clamps and let the glue set up overnight. This made up what would become my leg blanks in the next step.

Step 3: Make Up the Leg Blanks.

After the glue had set up, I made up the leg blanks. The first thing I did was run one side through the jointer, making a perfectly straight edge on the workpiece. Then I milled them down to rough size by ripping them on the table saw to width. And then crosscut them to length with the table saw sled. I used a scrap stop block held in place with a clamp so they were all the same length.

Step 4: It's Mortise and Tenon Time!

Then, using a perpendicular (to the blade) fence on the table saw sled. And setting the blade depth correctly. I created the tenons on the legs. This requires 8 total passes for each tenon, but it's my favorite way to create a tenon. After that, I laid out a mortise and hollowed out the waste with the drill press, and then cleaned it up with a chisel.

Step 5: Taper the Legs, and Glue Them Up.

Then I made a quick tapering jig, and put the taper on the legs. After they were tapered, I glued up the leg assembly. The mortise and tenons are very strong, and you don't need any mechanical fasteners for this joint. Only glue.

Step 6: Make and Glue Up the Box Pieces and Edge Banding.

Then I rough cut my box pieces on the table saw, and with the table saw sled. And milled down the 1/4" poplar edge banding on the Band Saw. I glued the edge banding to the plywood box panels after they were smoothed out, and applied clamping pressure with F-Style clamps and cauls. A caul is that piece of wood on top that applies pressure evenly on the whole edge banding.

Step 7: Cut Panels to Finish Length, and Glue Up the Box.

Then I cut all of my panels for the box per the plans. And glued them up with long F-style and quick clamps. I didn't use any mechanical fasteners. In my opinion, the plywood laminations will fail before the glue joint does. And you'd need a sledgehammer to break this thing apart. That's good enough for me.

Step 8: Finish the Plywood Edges.

I don't remember where I saw this, but if you apply 2 or 3 coats of glue on the end grain of the plywood panels. And then sand that glue down. When you paint, you can't see the laminations on the edge grain. It looks like a solid piece of lumber. The finished product turned out really well, so I'm happy with it.

Step 9: Pre-drill Your Leg Assembly, and Attach It to the Box.

I pre-drilled 5 holes in each leg assembly with a 1/8" drill bit. And then used a countersink bit to create a pocket for the screw head . After I did that, I attached the leg assembly to the bottom of the bookshelf with 1-1/4" screws.

Step 10: Paint Your Bookshelf.

The paint I used is Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan, along with her clear wax to finish. I used it because it matches a dresser in the room that I painted a few years ago. And it's a breeze to work with. It goes on smooth, covers well, flattens out easy enough, and looks great. Plus, there's limited prep on existing furniture which is a big plus.

I applied one thin coat, let it dry, and then sanded with 1,000 grit sandpaper. Then I applied a thicker coat and let that dry. I sanded it again with 1,000 grit sand paper, and it was time for the finish. The clear wax gets applied to the whole surface that's painted with a chalk paint brush. And it gets rubbed off with a clean shop cloth before it sets up. The wax gives the paint a matt finish and adds protection to the piece as well. I love this paint for old projects and new alike.

Step 11: You're Done. Load It Up!

And now you're done! Load it up with your babies new stuff, or whatever you are planning to put in the little bookshelf. And you can enjoy both the organization and decorative look of your new bookshelf.

Thanks for checking this out, and don't forget to check out my YouTube woodworking channel to see all of my new videos.

Thanks again, and we'll see you on the next one.

— Adam