Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Built-in Bookshelf Around Existing Window Tutorial


I am not an expert in building things with wood. I'm actually fairly terrible at it. I like to guess and estimate measurements- the opposite of any respectable woodworker.  When Husband and I do a project together, he's the one measuring down to the nearest 1 billionth of an inch. My job is to figure out the geometry of the project.  I typically design, figure out the angles, and troubleshoot the flaws he points out in my plan. 

One of the things that drew me to this house originally was the charm. There are a ton of nooks and window seats. Those are always my favorite places to hang out- especially when they overlook property as pretty as ours. Our living room has that exact feature. We didn't touch it because we thought it would become a neat place to sit.  Well, a year and a half later I can count on a single hand the number of times someone has sat there.  The way the living room is laid out, it just isn't useful space. The toys, books, and puzzles always end up on it. See?



So I needed a plan. I wanted to find an upside down U-shaped bookcase to fit that exact space.  I had no luck- big surprise.  I found skinny bookshelves from Ikea to fit the sides and considered buying them.  However at $90 for each of the 2 I'd need- that seemed ridiculous.  That $180 didn't even include the horizontal piece for over the window.  Next option- just build one. Husband was fairly against the idea and didn't think it was necessary.  Good thing 2 of my sisters, Kiki and Bee, were on their way to stay with us for a week.  In a few short hours I'd have 4 extra hands to help with kidlets and my bookshelf.  Once they got here, we spent a few days Netflix and chilling. We all needed that.  After I got them nice and relaxed, I hit them with my plan.  They were all for it.  Kiki and I headed to a lumberyard and bought all the wood we'd need.  And then I changed the plan. Figures I'd get an awesome idea after the wood was purchased... Again, I ran it by them and we were all in agreement.  The original plan was to use all 1" x 12"s.  The new plan had the whole bookshelf slant inwards.  So the outer edge would remain 12" deep but the inner edge would be 8". It would require slightly more figuring but wouldn't make it exponentially harder.  Bee and I returned some of the wood, refigured our amounts, and bought the remaining pieces needed.  We got home and stacked it in the garage.  Husband got home and tried really hard to stay out of it.  However, he saw the different sized boards and got worried we bought the wrong sizes.  Au contraire mon cheri!  He promptly left us to it.

Here is a color coded drawing of the plan.  The blue and green pieces are 1"x12"s while the red and orange pieces are 1"x8"s. The shelves don't matter to the basic structure so I left them off for simplicity's sake. The measurements are insignificant because it's highly unlikely my space is the same size as anyone else's.  What matters is how it gets put together. If I can recommend anything- measure a dozen times.  We found our space around the window was neither even nor square front to back, left to right, or top to bottom.  It took a LOT of finagling to get it into place.



Here is the order we put it together.  Everything was screwed using a countersink bit.  The green is the board along the ceiling.  We screwed the blue legs in using 3 long screws per piece.  The orange piece was barely wider than the window casing- and I mean barely. We screwed the narrow legs into that and then joined the wide and narrow pieces together.  It was fairly flimsy so we cut a couple shelf pieces and added those for stability.



A quick test fit let us know we were on the right track.  Do you see what I mean about being barely larger than the window casing?  It was a tight fit.



This angle lets you see the concave shape of the overall form.



For the shelves, we didn't have to figure out any angles. We used 1"x12' pieces cut to the correct shelf width.  After measuring the front side where it would meet the 1"x8"- we drew a line and cut on that. It was very simple.



For the uprights near the corners, we used scrap pieces to create an angled face piece so that it matched the rest. We just countersunk screws right into the face and filled the holes later. You can see it in the photo below.


Bee went around and filled all the holes before the entire thing was sanded and painted.



We are extremely proud of what we built.



This is before screwing it to the walls and putting quarter round around the entire thing.



FINISHED!


2 comments:

  1. Window seats are great places to just sit and drink a tea and stare out into space for a quick relax. It's a good idea to make the space more multipurpose as storage for the books you're going to read while sitting there!

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  2. Hi, Lover your woodworking skill. You did it like an expert. I have been thinking about make a wall showcase. Hope so your experience help me to do this successfully. Can I ask you what kinds of tools would need to make this? Thanks in advance for giving me the clarification.

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