60-minute Bookcase




Introduction: 60-minute Bookcase

About: I used to be a yuppie, but buying a house cured me of my excess money problem. Now I attempt to replicate the designer furniture of my dreams by channeling my inner bubba through a set of borrowed power tools.

I had a brainfart this morning that transformed a $10 spare scrap of plywood into a really cool 5' tall, designery bookcase that some yuppie idiot would probably pay a few hundred for.

Warning: this procedure involves extensive lame woodworking techniques such as glueing and stapling with nailguns. If you're a dovetail joint purist, you probably don't want to read any further.

Step 1: Ingredients

Tools you will need:
- a table saw
- a nail gun

Material you will need:
- at least a quarter of a plywood sheet, 96" long x 12" wide x 3/4" thick.
- at least 60 1.25" brads for the nail gun
- wood glue
- sand paper
- pabst blue ribbon, to help you channel your inner bubba.

Note: User earay indicates that MDF might be a better substitute for plywood, as it is cheaper and easier to paint when complete.

Step 2: Cut Boards

In this step, we're going to create our 16 6" x 12" boards.

How you create these boards isn't important. Keeping to the exact specified dimensions isn't necessary either. What is important is that all the boards be identical to fairly tight tolerances. One way to get there is the following procedure for cutting these boards out of a quarter of a 4' x 8' plywood sheet.

First, cut a 12" x 96" plank out of your plywood board. Set the rip fence of your table saw at 12" and pass the board through the saw once. You will only use that plank for this project -- use the remaining 3/4 of that board for something else (or else, build 3 more of these bookcases). (Actually, feel free to adjust this width to your taste).

Next, adjust the rip fence of your table saw to a little bit less than 6". Rotate the plank you just created 90 degrees, and subdivide it into sixteen identical 6" x 12" boards. Remember to pass the last board through the table saw, just to ensure that it's exactly the same size as the others.

Also: always use a push stick when moving wood through the table saw! I don't want to hear no complaints from any of you fingerless whiners. "I used to program computers for a living." "I was an artist" Wah wah wah. Use a push stick.

Step 3: Assembly: Layer 1

Pick three boards, and attach them together to form the first layer of the bookcase, as shown in the diagram below.

To attach the boards, first lay down a line of glue. Then, holding the boards in place, fire brads up through the bottom of the bottom board into the edge of the joining board. These brads will staple the joint in place while the glue dries. About 3-5 brads per board should be sufficient.

Note that the vertical boards are stacked on top of the base board -- not alongside it.

Grevious bodily harm warning: it's easy to "miss" when firing the brads up through the bottom board into the edge of the vertical board. Make sure that your fingers aren't anywhere near the place where a brad might unexpected appear. Protect your fingers! You only get ten of them, and then they're all gone forever.

Step 4: Assembly: Layer 2

Now, place two lines of wood glue atop the vertical boards from step 1, and glue another horizontal board on top to make a box. Fire some brads in from the top to pin the board in place while the glue dries.

Once the board is in place, glue two new vertical boards atop the horizontal one. In the previous step, the two vertical boards were placed along the left edge and the back-right edge. This time, place the boards along the right edge and the back-left edge. This should give you clearance to place the nailgun beneath the newly glue boards, and to fire brads up through the horizontal board into the vertical boards, pinning those boards in place.

Step 5: Assembly: Layers 3, 4, and 5.

Repeat the previous step for the next three layers, alternating the placement of the vertical boards for each layer. In this manner, an "S" shaped pattern should emerge.

Step 6: Assembly: Put a Lid on It.

Finally, take your last remaining board, glue it to the top of your structuer, and pin it in place with brads.

Step 7: Finishing

Wait for the glue to dry.

Sand the rough edges off the plywood.

Finish the bookcase to taste (stain, seal, paint, etc.).

Some variations:
- turn the bookcase on it's side, and now it's a bookshelf suitable for mounting on your wall!
- build a bunch of these units and stack them together. It's modular!

4 People Made This Project!


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185 Discussions

I have been looking at this cool zig zag shelf for weeks. I was going to build it with left over plywood. I decided that I would rather make it out of solid hardwood. I ended up using Hickory with a Cherry stain. I will clearcoat it tomorrow with poly. Thanks for this great idea!

Zig Zag Shelf1.jpgZig Zag Shelf2.jpg

I like the super easy construction!

The fist image shows that you have tearout problems with the table saw. Is your blade sharp, and has enought teeth? More teeth needed for finer cut, especially in plywood.

1 reply

I love this. I have been looking for beginner projects that still look nice. Will definitely make this one.

I suggest two substitutions:

1. Use Gorilla glue, which sets fast, works with wet wood (requires it, actually), fills gaps, paints well, strong.

Instead of PBR, drink water because it tastes the same; or a dark
Flemish abbey ale. I save the PBR for in-laws and baiting slug traps.
(Just came back from Belgium so I'm spoiled.)

2 replies

Yeah, Slug traps is about all it's good for. ;-P Though we use "Simple Times."

Hi, can someone help me converting 96" long x 12" wide x 3/4" thick in cm? =D thanks

11 replies

Buy a good tape measure where it shows imperial and metric back to back.

Just type in Google: 96" to cm

... it will do the calculation for you. :-)

One inch is equal to 2.54 cm. So the 96 inch long will be 96x2.54=243.84cm

243.84 x 30.48 x 1.905. htyp://www.inches-to-cm.com
Inches might be easier. You can Google a printable standard (imperial?) ruler and use it to mark your measuring device. Just a thought.

http://www.inches-to-cm.com I *hate* typing on my phone!

thanks, but I tought wasnt inches but it is =)

If you find yourself in this conversion issue frequently there is an app called "Units Plus" that is great for conversions of length, weight, volume, area, currency, etc.

I got mine free through "Apps Gone Free" (currently $2.99) but there are several similar apps for free in the App Store. Good luck with your project. ?

1 inch = 2.54 cm, so doing the math: 96" = 243.84 cm; 12" 30.48 cm; 3/4" = 1.905 cm

Thanks a lot, this will be really usefull =D

You are starting with a quarter of a standard 4' x 8' (121.92 cm x 243.84 cm) sheet of plywood (quartered the long way). Divide it into 16 equal pieces. This will work with ANY measurement - start with a piece that is 8 times as long as it is wide, and divide into 16 equal pieces. Of course the finished shelf will be larger or smaller.