Dr Seuss Inspired Bookcase




Introduction: Dr Seuss Inspired Bookcase

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 has too many toys. That is the way I choose to start this instructable. My son has too many toys.

Now don't get me wrong, toys are great and fun and I love to buy them for my son but there is a limit. There are multiple parties to blame for this issue, myself included. I mean how fun is it to buy awesome little boy toys... He is also blessed to have two sets of wonderful grandparents that tend to go a little overboard on the toys. Also aunts and uncles and friends... Oh boy. It doesn't matter who is to blame the point is he has too many toys.

So he has a birthday coming up and we need to do something to avoid more toys piling up. So this year we are having a fill the bookcase birthday party. NO TOYS ALLOWED! I made him a tree bookcase in the fall but we already have that one filled. You can find that on instructables as well. So we needed another bookcase do we found a cool idea and went for it.

I made this with only handheld tools so just about anyone can do it. It may look complicated but it really wasn't bad. I had a lot for fun making this and learned some new things in the process. Thanks for looking and enjoy!

Step 1: What You Need

A lot of clamps... A lot

Two sheets of 1/4 in hardwood plywood

One 1x12x10

One 1x10x8

A lot of clamps

Wood glue

Circular saw

Jig saw

Belt and Palm sander

Pocket hole jig


A lot of clamps

Patients for the glue to dry

Step 2: Cut the Plywood

To make the curved sides I laminated 3 sheets of 1/4 in plywood. The process is pretty simple. You glue the three sheets together while in a form and when the glue dries, it will hold its shape. Each layer is holding the other in the shape you want. I'll explain better in the other steps.

I cut six pieces 12in wide and 6 feet long with my circular saw. 12in because that is the common depth for a bookcase and 6 feet because... Well it looked cool. Three for each side. There are a few good ways to do this. A table saw would probably be the easiest but I only wanted to use hand held tools so anyone can do this. I have this great clamp/straight edge that works awesome. It's an eight foot clamp so you can clamp it over the entire sheet and use it as a guide for your saw. If you don't have one of these wonderful clamps, a straight edge and a steady had will work just fine.

After I cut the the 6 pieces at 6ft by 1ft I took 2 of them and marked out 5 12in squares. Again I used my circular saw to cut. I'll explain these cuts in the next step. Make sure that you sand down all of the edges and you are ready for the next step.

Step 3: Love Those Curves

A quick word about my shop. One of my favorite things to look at when I am looking at other instructables is looking at the shops. So I just want to warn you in advance that my shop is small, dark and dirty. It's in a carriage house that was built in 1906. The lighting is very poor and it is way too small for all of my tools but I love it anyway. I just wanted to explain the following pictures. The dirty part.... Well that's my fault but anyway, back to the project.

First I made a form to clamp the sides in. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to work. I use one 4ft 1x12 and screwed two 2x6s to the bottom. You want the platform to be elevated so you can clamp it down. Then I screwed a 2x6 and a 2x8 to the top. The distance between isn't really important. If the put the top pieces closer together you will get a tighter curve, farther apart and the curve is more gradual.

When the form was ready I laid the first sheet on the form and coved it with glue. You need a lot of wood glue for this project, I bought the 32oz bottle and I'm glad I did. Once the sheet was covered with glue I put the next sheet on. Make sure that your sides are flush so you don't have to sand them flush later.

When it was time to put the third layer on I used the 12in squares and I placed one by scraps in the middle of the squares so I could have slots for the shelves when it was dry.

When it comes to clamping, you want to make sure that you have clamps holding the sheets together as well as pressing it into the form. After I laid all three layers on I slowly started to clap the middle making the first curve. As I was doing that, some of the top pieces started to come up so I clamped them together as necessary. Then I worked on the ends slowly tightening the clamps all the way around until I got the shape I was looking for.

I let the glue dry for 24 hours and then I did the other side in the same way. I didn't make the curves as drastic for the other side just so there would be a little bit of difference.

This bent wood laminating is brand new to me so I hope I explained it all right. If you have any better or easier ways to do this I would love to know about them. Thanks

Step 4: Making the Front

After both sides were complete, it was time to start on the front. I want to use a solid 1x3 ish for the front to hide the laminated side. I placed one of the sides on a 1x10 and traced the outline. Then I moved it over about 3in and traced it again. I then cut it out with a jig saw, sanded it a bit and then did the same to the other side.

I finished off the front by cutting a top and bottom and screwing them into place with my pocket hole jig. I didn't really have a plan for this part. I used the two outside pieces and just kind of moved them around until it looked right.

This part was really fun because my three year old son helped me cut these. I drew the lines and with a lot of guidance he used the jig saw to cut it out. It was his first time with the jigsaw and he did great. I am really excited to tell him someday that he was using a jigsaw before he had mastered scissors. It was a pound dad moment.

Just a word of caution. If you are going to tell your wife that the toddler is using power tools, don't run in the house screaming with excitement. It may be misunderstood as something has gone terribly wrong and then you'll get in trouble.

Step 5: Putting It Together

When the side dried I used the belt sander to sand the edges down a little. Then I glued the sides on to the front piece that I made in the previous step.

I measured and cut the bottom shelf as well as the top of the case. I clamped everything together with plenty of glue and I put a couple finishing nails in for good measure.

I gave the glue adequate time to dry and I started on the shelves.

Step 6: Slide in the Shelves

Because of the spacers I used when glueing up the side, the shelves slid in really easy. Laying the bookcase down on the front, I measured the width of each self space and cut one with the circular saw. Then I glued the track and slid the shelves right in.

When they were in I clamped all of them in and shot a couple of finishing nails in to hold them.

Step 7: The Back

Before I attached the back I wanted to get the front all cleaned up. Although I traced the sides when I made the front pieces, they still managed to not quite be flush. No problem. I grabbed the router and a flush trim bit and cleaned everything up.

Then on to the back. I bought a cheap sheet of paneling from menards and threw it on the back. I cut it out the easy but very dusty way.

I put the sheet on the back of the bookcase and nailed it on the top and bottom. Just one nail a piece. Make sure that you have plenty of overhang on both sides and use that same flush trim bit to cut the panel. Like I said, it makes a lot of dust but the cut is perfectly flush. After it was cut, I finished by nailing the back on and then standing it up.

I also capped the top with a scrap piece of 1x12 just to dress it up a little. Sorry i didn't get a pic of that. The last step is to clean it all off and get some paint on it.

Step 8: Complete

We were able to paint this with a bunch of leftover paint from pervious projects. I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Bookcases are really important to me because I put a lot of value in what they hold. Toys are fun for now but books can be companions forever. There are a lot of things I would like to teach my son. I want to teach him to work with his hand and find joy in physical work. I want him to stand up for what is right no matter the consequence. I want him to love God and love people. And I want him to have the eagerness to read and learn and grow.

So that's why I made this bookcase. It was a lot of fun. It is my hope that the more we fill his room with books, the more he'll want to read. I really enjoyed making this and I hope you enjoyed too. Thanks so much for reading.


Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

Second Prize in the
Hand Tools Only Contest 2016

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    11 Discussions

    Carpenter in the city

    Great build! My daughter loved the bookshelf.... Now she wants one lol. Great job


    Reply 4 years ago

    Glad she liked it! Thanks so much for the kind words

    That Redhead
    That Redhead

    4 years ago

    This is awesome!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thank you so much! Glad you liked it


    4 years ago

    Nice work!


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks very much! Glad you like it


    4 years ago

    Nice!!! good instructible. can't wait for the day my son will use a jig saw (note taken:)
    One question though- if the two sides are not the same, how did you make the grooves leveled?


    Reply 4 years ago

    Although the two side are not the same shape, the difference is not enough to make the shelves lean. I wasn't sure how it was going to work in the beginning but with the look of the bookcase it really didnt matter if they were level. The jig saw was a cool moment