I wanted to design a bookshelf that met my needs for space to keep different sizes and types of media in one cabinet. I decided on a design that emulates the style of a Charles Limbert piece from the early 20th century. That unit has a main case of standard bookshelf depth and two shallower case sections, one on either side.
The appeal is the ability to store my larger, hardcover books in the main section and my paperbacks, CDs and DVDs, along with a few knickknacks, on the side shelves. A common problem with standard bookshelves is that paperbacks and small books sink too far into the shelf and are easily overlooked.
This design is cost-effective, easy to build and attractive. It employs the use of plywood wrapped with a solid face frame and solid shelf edges. The cost of the birch plywood was $65 for a single 3/4″-thick sheet, and $35 for a sheet of 1/4″-thick plywood used for the back. I bought about 20 board feet of soft maple “shorts”, which are about 6′ long, for $2.38 per board foot. The longest pieces in the case fit within those measurements, so there was no need to buy excess wood that would not be used.
The loose shelves of this design have a solid wood edge that is 3/8″ thick. The plywood edges at the front are covered by a solid wood face frame. This design is a plywood box with solid wood covering the exposed edges. By minimizing the solid wood used, the final product is lighter and less expensive than if were made entirely out of solid wood.
The bottom and fixed shelf of the bookcase fit into dados, and the back wings of the small side sections are rabbeted to fit on the back edge of the main case sides. There’s also enough space to attach the 1/4″ back. The adjustable shelves rest on pegs in 1/4″-diameter holes.
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