The “Mandatory” First Project – Bookshelves

From the few things I’ve read, it almost seems like a right of passage to build a set of bookshelves as one of, if not the, first project as a woodworker.  The cliche wasn’t enough to dissuade me. It didn’t hurt that we had boxes and piles of books strewn across the house, either.  I was feeling creative, so I came up with this design:


Five shelves, angled side profile, and an interesting lattice work to keep books from falling out the back:


Being this was my first attempt at building, let alone designing, a piece of furniture – I ended up keeping things simple.  The whole bookcase (four feet wide, about 6 feet tall) was constructed from two 4′ x 8′ sheets of 3/4″ oak plywood. The shelves rest in 3/8″ deep dados on each side.  The back lattice work is joined with half-lap joints, assembled separately, and then added to shelf/side assembly.

Although this piece is not something I could sell to anyone, I’m proud of how things turned out and what I learned from it all. I’ve picked up tips on tear-out, on the true width of 3/4″ plywood, on how my collection of clamps is woefully insufficient, etc.  My favorite lesson has become my motto in my garage – “It doesn’t help to measure twice, if you only think once.”

Update:  Here’s a picture of the bookcase in use:


Welcome to My Garage

I decided to put together this little blog to keep track of and share the wood related projects that I’m throwing myself into these days. I make no promises with respect to frequency or quality, given I expect few people to be reading this with any regularity.  I imagine most hits will be coming from me pulling up the site on other people’s computers to talk about some picture I took.

Despite having the domain name purchased and WordPress installed, it has been a few weeks and I haven’t done anything besides leave up the “Hello, World” post.  I finally tripped across a sufficiently interesting idea for how to kick off this blog.  Tom Iovino posted a question (both on his blog and on the WoodWhisperer forums) – “Who have been the three most influential woodworkers who got you started woodworking?”

I’m not sure I have a good answer to that question. At least, I don’t have three names to list. Until most recently, I really hadn’t done much with wood. I had a few pinewood derby cars and I’m pretty sure I also built a birdhouse in Cub Scouts.  I’ve felled and split wood destined for a fire pit.  One spring break in college I helped start building cabins at a summer camp, although we didn’t get much past the framing, given the weather in March in the foothils of Colorado.  I guess that all adds up to a lot more than I thought before I started writing this paragraph…

I’ve always had a can-do attitude about most things. The recent popularity of HGTV and DIY Network have certainly boosted this consumer’s D-I-Y genes. Wood just seemed like another things I could do myself.  Maybe its the combination of the creative and the technical. Maybe its the smell of sawdust. Maybe I can’t describe it in words. But  I do know that I love wood and wood furniture.  With the execption of some bar stools that belly up to a high kitchen counter, every piece of furniture in our house is wood.  It’s warm, colorful, and inviting. I probably have my mother to thank for those sentiments.  I know she shares the same feelings about furniture. Growing up I always used to give her a hard time about which $300 piece of wood she was going to buy next, as if it was some sort of vice.

I guess that now I’m addicted too…