How to Build a Timber Bookcase

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How to Build a Timber Bookcase

Building a timber bookcase allows the builder to customise it to suit the look of a particular room. Purchasing constructed wooden furniture is also usually much more expensive than embarking on a DIY project. It might seem like a daunting task to make a bookcase from raw materials, but the project is within reach for those with basic carpentry knowledge who take care and time to properly measure the timber and follow a few helpful guidelines.


Select the timber

First, select the right timber for the job. Make the choice based on the colour and texture of the wood, how it fits into the budget, and its availability. Excellent choices include sugar maple, oak, and pine. Salvaged timber and repurposed wood are sometimes available as eco-friendly and cost-effective options. Plywood also works and is a good choice for particularly tight budgets, but it is not as sturdy as other options.


Measure the timber

Measure the height, width, and length of the bookcase's future resting place to make sure the planned bookshelf is the appropriate size for the space. Write down the dimensions for each individual section of the bookcase to create a blueprint for the project. This ensures accurate timber measurements before cutting the wood for the support pieces and shelves.


Cut the timber

The initial cutting method depends on personal preferences and the types of tools available. A table saw works especially well because it makes it easy to handle large pieces of timber. Cut the timber to a manageable size, if necessary, but do not focus on matching the exact measurements yet. A table saw handles large pieces well but is not the best choice for detail work.

Cut with a mitre saw

To achieve exact dimensions for the bookcase, use a mitre saw to crop the timber to the exact measurements dictated by the blueprint. A mitre saw allows for more precise work and cleaner cuts on smaller pieces.


Rabbit the shelves

"Rabbiting" refers to etching notches into the frame to hold shelves. Rabbited shelves hold more weight than shelves that simply screw into the frame. Rabbiting involves measuring the same height on each side frame piece and using a T-square to mark both pieces at the same time. Repeat this step to accommodate the intended number of shelves spaced according to the blueprint's dimensions.

Router the rabbit grooves

Router the notches to create hollowed out grooves to hold the shelves. Use a level to ensure an even job because shelves do not sit properly in improperly hollowed out notches. A router is a powerful tool capable of accomplishing the task in one swipe, but making several shallow passes over the notches yields a smoother result. It also allows for better control, which reduces the risk of mistakes that could compromise the stability of the bookcase. Proper grooves require the use of a rabbit bit attached to the router base.


Screw in the shelves

Screwing the shelves to the frame is an alternative to rabbiting. This method is an appropriate choice for shelves not intended to support large or heavy items. It also requires less carpentry knowledge to successfully master this method.

To attach the shelves using screws, mark the placement of the screws on the outside of the frame. Hold the shelf flush against the frame and screw it into place. A screwdriver does not have enough strength for this project. Instead, use a handheld power drill with a bit attached that matches the screws. If the timber is thick, pre-drill holes in the sides of the shelf ahead of time to help with the process.


Build the bookcase

Apply a light, even coat of wood glue to rabbited notches before inserting shelves intended to remain permanently in place. Finish the assembly process by hammering small nails into the outside of the frame as an extra support measure for the shelves.

Finish the bookcase

Sand any rough edges to give the piece a professional appearance and reduce the risk of splinters. Glue on decorative mouldings to change the silhouette and add visual appeal. If desired, stain or paint the bookcase to match the decor in the room.


How to buy supplies to build a timber bookcase on eBay

Now that you have a plan in place to build a timber bookcase at home, search for the right supplies on eBay. The sellers on the site offer everything essential to the process, from the timber itself to the tools and finishing products. Conduct a specific search to receive the most focussed results. For example, searching specifically for "router" only returns results pertaining to the tool. Understanding the basics of the process and acquiring the right materials are essential to building a timber bookcase that lasts for decades.

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