Friday, February 1, 2013

If You Build It, They Will Use It (Before and After)

Let's talk about big bangs for your bucks today, shall we?  Would you believe me if I told you that this built-in bookcase cost less than $50 to build and only took me an afternoon?

Well, believe it!  Let me break it on down for you.  Here's what I started with:

This is the wall separating the dining room from the Florida room sunroom family room.  Prior to demolition/renovation, there was a window on this wall.  In an attempt to open the spaces up a bit more, I chose to turn this wall into a half wall and planned on making a ledge or counter along the opening.  I liked the idea of a display space between the two rooms.

But it still felt a little too dinky as a ledge.  It needed more girth, I tell ya.  When you enter our house from the garage (which is the main way we enter), this wall is the first thing you see and I wanted it to be a little more inviting than just a half-wall with a 5-inch ledge perched on top.  And that's how the bookcase idea was born.

Using the existing wall as the back of my bookcase, I cut 5 boards and drilled three pocket holes in each with my Kreg Jig.  I also attached horizontal front stabilizers to support the vertical boards and keep them from moving around while building.  I left the pocket holes exposed on the front for two reasons: 1. It's way easier to drill from the front 2. I was going to wrap the bottom in trim at the end and would be hiding this part anyway.

The wall that I was drilling them into was drywall affixed to a solid cedar wall, therefore, I didn't have to look for studs when drilling.  Bonus.

I cut four boards and popped them into the bottoms of each shelf section using quarter round molding glued and nailed in place, then added the bottom skirt of trim around the entire unit.  Once I got the bottom shelves in place, I figured it would be a good time to paint the inside because man, I hate painting individual shelves.

Here's where the picture-taking got a little sketchy.  Using a level and tape measure, I carefully marked off where to put the quarter-round molding pieces, added a bit of glue to each piece and nailed them on.  I didn't want the shelves to be identical in height, but I knew that I wanted the bottom to be taller to accomodate larger items, baskets, books, etc.

Once all the boards were in place, I attached the 1x2 bullnose pieces to the front with the nailgun.  This creates a much thicker profile from the front with the added bonus of providing strength to the span of each shelf.

I added a coat of paint to each shelf (Behr's Polar Bear in semi-gloss) and while that dried, I cut the top of my bookshelf in the garage.

I used a half-inch-thick piece of plywood (not sure if it's birch or beech) that I already had on-hand.  I used clamps, a straightedge and a circular saw to cut the top.  Then, to add the notches at the corners, I measured and marked off my cut lines and went to work with the jigsaw.

I added another bullnose around the perimeter of the counter, slapped on a coat of stain and about 5-6 coats of polycrylic later, I had a sleek countertop.

And that was it!  An afternoon of building and painting and I have a functional piece of built-in furniture.   The polycrylic applications were spread out over a couple days, but the building and painting only took a few hours.

Now I just have to fill it up with STUFF.  Once I get it styled all pretty, I'll snap a couple more pics and share them.

What about you?  Ready to break out your toolbag and tackle a bookcase?  Or are you ready to hire someone to do it for you?

1 comment:

  1. You amaze me. How easy you knocked this out and it looks fabulous. Between this tutorial and the other one, I'm hoping to finally get to bookcase railing over the holidays. I promise to provide photos so that I can blame you if it doesn't work out :)


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