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 (https://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.
Step 1: Tools/Materials Required
1. TOOLS REQUIRED:
1.Workhorse - $38
Any table you have can work for this. I find having tables devoted solely to construction projects (that were made for construction projects) helps.
2. Jig Saw - $30
3. Clamps (2) - $4
C-Clamps really work best.
4. Various Files - $10
Make sure they work on wood. I also highly reccommend that of these wood files, you have a half round. It seems to work best for this project.
5. Power Drill - $20
Cordless is best. You'll already have the jig saw plugged in and will want to walk around freely with the drill. Keep it on the charger in between drills. It won't lose a charge easily, but boring holes as you will be through this thick of wood is taxing even to the greatest of power drills.
6. Huge Ass Drill Bit - $4
7. Cardboard Scraps (2) - $0 These are to be cushioned in between your clamps and wood, to keep the clamps from leaving dents in your wood).
8. Mallet - $4 You'll want a mallet vs. a hammer to not dent your wood.
9. Angle Square (Large) - $7
10. Rubber Sanding Block - $6 This just makes your sanding infinitely easier.
11. Hard Sand Paper - $2
12. Medium Sand Paper - $2
13. Mitre Saw - $90. This can be avoided if need be. It just makes it incredibly easy to cut the pegs.
Worst Case Start-up Cost = $127-$217
You really don't need fancy materials for this project. Borrow them from friends or buy them cheap. Look at my tools: they're nothing fancy. The blade that I use in the jig saw is the same one that came with it when I bought it.
2. MATERIALS REQUIRED:
-Pine 2X8X16 (2) - $22
-Pine 2X4X8 - $2
Materials Cost = $24
3. OVERALL COST = $24-$241
Step 2: Blueprints
Step 3: Prep Materials
1. Cut wood into individual lengths. You can do this yourself; however, I find that where corners can be cut, they should. While I was already at the Home Depot purchasing the wood, I had the employee back in lumber cut my pieces down to the lengths necessary. Fortunately, the employees at my Home Depot are very patient (mainly because they know me so well from all my projects; I bring my blueprints in to show them like they're baby pics). However, if your Home Depot isn't as kind, they can still make each cut for a really cheap price (25 cents at most). If you can do this, you should: it will save a lot of time.
2. Outline your cuts. Take your time here & I cannot stress enough: triple check. Sure, it's not the most exciting part of the project. And you will think that you're perhaps better than the rest of us and one pass at the lines will suffice. But you'll make an ass of yourself later; for the initial outlining can make or break your project as all of your cuts depend on a relatively form factor (pieces fitting fairly tightly into each other. I suggest making sure that when you butt the ruler up against the side of the wood, you always take your measurements from the same side. Also, make sure to do all of this with a pencil. You'll make a mistake and discover that pen is cruel friend.
Step 4: Create Bookcase Sides/Mortises
Preface: it would behoove you greatly to set up a work area and keep it that way. I cannot tell you how invaluable this has been. I used to just toss everything into some boxes on my back porch. However, due to parents coming to visit, I invested a weekend into cleaning the back porch and setting up a system of organization, including a few purchase (such as the storage closet in the back for only $70). If you think you're going to get into heavier duty projects like this, it would be very wise.
1. Clamp down wood. Clamp your side board down to the the table using the cardboard as a cushion between the clamp & board.
2. Drill your holes. I would suggest doing everything in mass. I did each step to the board all at once. Attach your big-ass drill bit to your drill and bore a hole in the middle of your outlined square, which will eventually become the slot to run the shelf through. This is to allow the jig saw a place to start cutting into the wood. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BORE THE HOLE WITH YOUR JIG SAW. You will be a very sorry fellow/fellowess.
3. Cut your slot out. Cutting your slot out is much more complicated than it first seems. You can't just start in a corner, or else you will seriously fuck things up. Insert your jigsaw blade into the holes you just bored and follow the pattern illustrated in the pictures. Basically: make your way to one corner and spiral out back to the same point. Make sure you stick to the outside of your pencil lines. The reason for this is simple. You will cut all your inner pieces (shelves) on the inner side. That way, you don't get to the end of cutting, realize your shelves are too big for your slots, and then spend days filing. Yes, it technically produces a little bit of wiggle room. However, in my experience, given the weight of these boards and the tension that will be provided for by the pegs, this won't be a problem.
4. Trim the slot edges. You'll notice these holes aren't perfect. Go back with your jig saw and clean up the edges. Follow the straight edges you established as guides.
5. Trim the other side. Unclamp your board, flip it over, & take a look. You'll note how uneven everything looks. This is quite easily the most demoralizing part of the project to neophytes. Do not worry. Simply clamp that sucker back down, and trim it until satisfied. Quite honestly, this is my favorite part of the project. It is my moment of zen.
6. Repeat for other bookcase side.
Step 5: Create Shelves/Tenons
1. Repeat steps 3.1-3 from creating the bookcase sides. In my humble opinion (as my priest says), I suggest you do so in the order I suggest (cutting the slots before the tenons) because you will have more stability at this point unlike if you were to cut the tenon then try to cut the holes. It just makes sense. These will not be slots, however. They will become your peg holes.
2. Cut your tenons. Next you will create your tenons, the second part of the mortise/tenon method. The tenons will fit through the slots on your bookcase sides. The most important thing to remember here is to cut inside the lines, as explained in the last step. Cut an L-shape out of the sides of your shelf ends. First from the sides, then from the top.
3. Repeat 15 more times. You're gonna be at this for a while. Might as well have a drink handy.
Step 6: Create Pegs
Pegs are incredibly simple, whether you have a mitre saw or not. You don't want to make the peg too tight, or it will damage itself, crack the tenon (as a result of forcing it down into the hole), and damage any stain you might apply to the piece. This is why you cut the pegs into slants: to allow for variance and adjustability.
1. Mark off 11/4" along the bottom of the peg.
2. Mark off 1 3/4" along the top of the peg.
3. Use a jigsaw or a mitre saw to cut across from one to the other.
4. If you have a little chunk still attached, just break it off with your hands.
5. Use whichever half fits best in your hole. If you notice, your peg holes are 1 1/2". So this allows a little bit of play for getting the peg in & out. When installing the pegs in the next step, you want to get them all reasonably through the tenon. But each tenon will not be exactly even with all the other pegs. Each has it's "niche" so to speak. Good design allows for this variance.
Step 7: Assembly
1. Stand one bookcase side/mortise on it's edge. Make sure your display case slot (largest shelf, 3rd from the top) is pointed upward.
2. Insert tenon (tab) of bookshelve into bookcase side/mortise. Push it all the way through.
3. Repeat step 2 7 more times.
4. Stand remaining bookcase side on edge.
5. Line up remaining bookcase side slots with corresponding tenons on other side of bookcase shelves. Make sure your display case slot (largest shelf, 3rd from the top) is lined up with display case slot on the first bookcase side/mortise.
6. Lean bookcase side/mortise gently forward, guiding the tenons one-by-one into their appropriate slots.
7. Insert pegs. Narrow end first, straight face inward. First place all of the pegs then, hammer them down on a second pass. Do not do this in rush; for though the pegs are made for the holes, they're not supposed to go down all the way. Where as nails/screws bind fast, causing eventual cracks, the wood shrinks & expands according to the season. This will result in the wood (to a very slight degree) pushing the peg slight out & slightly in each year according to the season. Again, this is a good thing, as it prevents cracking and the sort. It's why older buildings moan and groan.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
1. File all rough edges. Even if you're not clumsy, it's always best to do some filing. This is for several reasons:
- Pride in craftsmanship
- Eliminate sharp edges
- Eliminate chance for splinters
- Finishing out any inevitably uneven cuts that make one end of each hole narrower/larger than the other end. This can present difficulties for your pegs & by filing, you provide for a smoother fit.
- Eliminate the splinters.
- Keeps anything that you would store on the shelf from catching on your bookcase.
- Removes all pencil marks & stamps left by the lumberyard.
- Preps for staining (if you so choose)
Step 9: Additional Bookcase Blueprints
- The lateness of this tutorial.
- This not being the same design.
- You don't to credit them as your own.
- Cite me in any Instructable you create based off this work. I'd love to see what you do with my design.
Participated in the
Green Living & Technology Challenge