Whether it is a simple plywood structure or a custom-made wall unit crafted from fine hard­wood, a bookcase serves two func­tions at once: It is an efficient storage system, accommodating books and other items that accu­mulate in most homes, and a fine piece of furniture in its own right, as handsome as the freestanding unit at left.

The basic bookcase illustrated on page 42 can be adapted to store just about anything, from bound vol­umes to china, crystal, toys, records, compact discs, and videocassettes.

With the addition of some special­ized hardware (page 44), a simple bookcase can be transformed into a home entertainment center to house a television and VCR, stereo components and computer gear. This utilitarian versatility makes the bookcase one of the woodshop’s most popular projects.

Although the appearance of a bookcase may vary from one unit to another, the principles of its design remain constant. Every bookcase must strike a balance between its size and the
size and weight of the items it is intended to hold. Shelves, for exam­ple, must be long enough to do their job, but not so long that they will sag in use. Shelves can be fixed in place or adjustable. Each has its own advantages. Adjustable shelving (page 45) permits a more flexible organization of a bookcase’s interi­or space, but fixed shelves (page 50) lend a bookcase structural rigidity.

You have considerable choice of building materials, joinery meth­ods, and ornamentation when building a bookcase. The chapter that follows details the construction of a basic unit. You may wish to add a face frame to strengthen the piece and soften its lines (page 54). Molded bases and feet (page 56) can allow a bookcase to harmonize with other pieces of furniture that will surround it. See page 59 for a simple method of stringing a series of bookcases together into a wall unit.

By putting your imagination, skill, and patience to work, you will be able to reap the rewards of building a fine piece of useful furniture.

Because books come in many shapes and sizes, bookcases with adjustable shelves retain their flexibility long after they are built. With all but one of its shelves movable, the bookcase at left can accommodate the changing demands of a growing collection.

Updated: March 6, 2016 — 9:20 pm