Introduction: Tree Bookshelf

About: My Grandpa got me into wood working when I was five years old. Ever since then I have been hooked. I love creating something out of nothing, making something old new or using trash to make something beautiful.…

My son needed a new bookshelf for his growing collection of books. My beautiful wife had the best of intentions and bought him one from Walmart... That will not do.
So it forced me to start on this tree bookshelf and luckily it coincided with the shelving contest so it's win win.
Of course I could have made a simple square bookshelf but that's just not my style. For some strange reason my brain seems to turn every simple project into something more complicated.
Is it just me? I mean really, when I get a project idea in my head I start out with a simple idea and as I'm lying in bed my brain starts taking the project in all sorts of directions. I can't help myself. It usually turns out pretty cool so I guess it's ok.
Anyway, I found a great design online but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. It was a great place to start but I had to give it my own flare. This was a fun project and didn't take any special tools so anyone can do it. Thanks so much for looking and enjoy!
As you look through this instructable please forgive the messy shop. Fall is a very busy time for us so the shop cleaning is low on the priority list. Sorry about that

Step 1: What You Need

3/4 inch hardwood plywood

18ft of 1x10


Finishing nails

Jig saw/ with scroll blade

Miter saw

A drill

Wow, I guess that's it. Simple right

Step 2: Make Your Design

I used a piece of 3/4 inch birch plywood and 1x10 pine boards for the shelf. I had a general idea about how I wanted it to look but I had to get it from my head to the plywood. Not an easy thing for me.
I drew out something that looked kind of like a tree. It is 5 1/2 feet tall and about 4 foot at the widest. I wanted to give the appearance that you could see through parts of the tree so I drew on some little details. Some of them worked and others looked... Not so good
The base was pretty easy. I measured the bottom of the tree and cut to that. Next I drew a wavy semicircle and that was it. With this project I didn't want any straight lines. I cut out some miscellaneous pieces on the base so it might look like shadows cast by the tree.
The great thing about this shelf is you can pretty much cut wherever you want and it will look like a tree. Pretty cool huh

Step 3: Cut It Out

I used a jig saw with a scroll blade. This is just a very thin blade so you can make tight turns. Then you just try your best to follow all of those curvy lines.
The good part is, if you cut outside the lines... Who cares, it's a tree.
Try to cut out the pattern in sections. That way you don't put to much pressure of the board as you cut. Be sure to leave enough to use for your base. All the tight turns with the saw will take a while but it is really worth it when you see the final product.

Step 4: Sand, Sand, Sand

All of those tight turns makes for a lot of hand sanding. There is no easy way to do this, power sanders are really out of the question here.
Because it was ply edge, I skipped 80 grit and went right to 220. The 80 was a bit to aggressive and I didn't want to take anymore off, i just wanted to smooth it out. I wrapped some sandpaper around my finger and tried to get all of the nooks and crannies. It took a lot of time but I had some slow mornings at work and I was able to do the small tedious stuff there.
You want to make sure you have a smooth edge so it looks good when you paint it later.

Step 5: The Shelves

So I wanted to have the appearance that the tree was 3d coming out of the wall. The way I did this is contouring the edges so it looked like leaves... We'll sort of
Also, the depth was deeper in the middle and then got less towards the outside.
I learned a few things while cutting these out. First, I used the scroll blade again to cut the shelves. At first I figured out the total board length of the box and then cut the whole edge all at once. That didn't work.
When I cut the boards the curves didn't line up so there were some jagged edges. So then I would cut the box and then contour the pieces individually.
I wanted to make the boxes big enough to hold REAL kids books. They are tall and wide and weird shaped, so you need good sized shelves. The tallest box is 16" and the smallest is 8" with some variation in between.
When it comes to setting up the boxes on the back there's not a lot of specific instructions I can give you. I laid them out one at a time and did what I thought looked good.
I started in the middle and worked down and the to the outside. I tried to make the curves line up so it flowed together.

Step 6: Put It All Together

To attach the shelves I first used a finishing nailer with 2" nails to hold everything together. Then I predrilled everything and used 1 1/2" drywall screws to hold everything.
You also want to make sure that your boxes are square because there is nothing worse than sloppy looking boxes. Also attach all the boxes to each other to its nice and sturdy.

Step 7: Sand Some More

Yup... Sand some more. All of the edges so it is child friendly.

Step 8: Paint

I painted this white to match my sons room. The are a lot of corners and and small curves so I decide to use spray paint to get into those spots and then go back and brush paint. It took a lone time but it was worth it in the end.
This was a really fun project and I am really happy with how it turned out. It was really easy and did not require any special tools.
So if you like how this turned out you should definitely give it a try. Thanks so much for looking at this and let me know if you make one.

Shelving Contest

Runner Up in the
Shelving Contest