Tutorial: DIY Bookshelf holds Vinyl

My last bookshelf sold at the March Hip Thrift Second Saturday event. I also had a specific request to build another to hold vinyl. As luck would have it, I had exactly enough material to build one nearly identical but with taller shelf spacing.

If you like it, I have good news: the original requester has not been in touch, so this new shelf is still available. As I mentioned in the last post, the record-shelf has been assembled for awhile but apparently needed time to settle down before being painted.

More good news: it's a good starter project if you want to work on some basic woodworking skills. To complete this DIY project, you will need shelfstock, a single bi-fold door, fence slats, and fasteners. Paint or other finishes are optional. Useful tools: speed square, tape measure, carpenter's pencil, safety gear, circular saw, jig saw, drill and drivers / bits, countersink, and brushes or spraygun.

Always start by cleaning, organizing and syncing the pieces you plan to assemble. Shelfstock is squared on both ends and cut to match the shortest length. Mark square lines with a speed square or carpenter square, then carefully cut with a reliable saw. These boards are squared on both ends and cut to a uniform 28 inches.
(Hey look, it's that nifty oval table before it got painted!)

Once the hardware is removed from the bi-fold door, all pieces are uniform and ready to be altered and assembled. First, material is cut out from the bottom rail to create feet. With a speed square pull lines angling inward. I used 12 degrees. With a jigsaw, cut precisely into the corner and stop.

Leave plenty of room to freehand a curve to the top line, starting the saw with the blade already inside the existing kerf. Again, saw into the corner and stop. In this case, the top line is sawn left to right.

Cut out the last corner from right to left. Repeat for the second shelf support.

Determine shelf spacing by considering what you'd like the shelves to hold and sketching to achieve your own concept and a visual harmony. Mark the bottom of each shelf across the inside face of the front and back stiles of the shelf supports. In this case, once the bottom shelf is marked out, you can add marks at 13-1/2 inch intervals: 12-1/2" vinyl + 1/4" clearance + 3/4" shelf thickness. 1/4" is a very tight clearance and requires great precision. 1/2" to 1" clearance is preferred.
On the outside face of each stile, mark (+) for drilling 3/8" above the lines marked on the inside face. The back stiles can be drilled in the center, but the front stile should be pulled slightly (~1/8") to the back since the face of each shelf will not fall flush with the front face of the front stiles. If the shelves were deeper than the stiles, they would stick out past and this would not be necessary. Pilots are drilled for a loose fit but leaving plenty of cover to hold screw heads. Then a countersink is used to ensure uniform depth when sinking the screws. Piloting and countersinking can be done in one step if you have an adjustable countersink bit.

Lay out the bookshelf face up and choose where you would like to place each shelf. This is especially important if you use reclaimed materials. A shelf with a defect on the bottom side can be placed near the bottom where it will only be seen while you do yoga. A shelf with a defect on the top side can be placed at the top of a tall bookshelf where it will only be seen every three years when you dust off the ceiling fan and/or chandelier.
 Right-handed instructions: Insert a screw fully into the pilot so that the tip is flush with the inside of the front stile. Facing as shown, use the left hand to stabilize the bottom shelf and line up the bottom of the front edge with the mark on the inside of the front stile. Use the right hand to drive the screw in with reasonable force, being sure not to angle the screw in such a way as to blow out on the front, top or bottom of the shelf. Twist the back of the shelf into place with the left hand still on the front edge. You can use a foot to brace the back edge but always be sure to keep hands and feet clear of the area where it is possible for the screw to blow through the shelf unexpectedly. Do this along one side before beginning the other.

 Fence slats are laid on their sides to determine the extent of twisting, cupping, bowing or crowning. For this project, crowning would present the largest problem. When laid as shown below, a stiff crown will stand out by raising up in the middle significantly more than adjacent boards. If the crown is placed upside down, the piece will rock like a seesaw. If you encounter a board with a bad crown consider replacing it with a tamer piece of wood. But don't be afraid to force one into place - factory milled wood is never perfectly straight.

Now the entire unit is flipped to face down. Each shelf is already secured with four screws. Remember to lay out the backing in advance before getting too far and noting a problem too late. The application of backing provides cross-bracing and stiffens the positioning of the frame, so be sure you have enough play for adjustments.

TIP: the flange of a speed square can be used to provide a uniform gap between planks. This is very useful when building a deck.
I didn't follow my own advice, centered this gap on the back of the top and bottom shelves, and attached the middle slats before laying out the remaining boards. Since this bookshelf is 2 inches narrower than my last, I need to run the backing without intentional gaps - they must sit tight to avoid ripping down the plank on each outside edge. Good that I caught it when I did - I only had to remove four screws and attach the two boards again with no gap. After the two center boards are on, check the four inside corners for squareness with the speed square. Rack the frame as needed when you attach the third and fourth slats.

Based on the quality of the upcycled wood at my disposal, I decided painting was the best option. I started with a greyish base coat. It was much lighter than it appears in the Goop below.
The base coat is shown in progress. The shelves had previously been hit once with watered down white left over from painting another project earlier.
This is about all I can show of the painting process - don't want to give away my secrets! But seriously, have fun with it, experiment, don't be afraid to take risks. If you don't like the result, you can just paint over it.
Between here and the finished product:
*watery spray (purple gray)
*air spray disturbance
*back spray through the gaps
*heavy orbital sanding
*clear coats

] j [


Hip Thrift Updates: Nifty table is on the floor.

Not too long ago, I hinted that I might document the construction of a new bookshelf to be sold at Hip Thrift. It's funny how things get in the way, in this case literally. While I was building the shelves, Amy Williams was sanding down the top of a sweet old wooden table. And then somehow this table ended up back in the middle of the workspace. I thought, "Let me paint this thing and get it out of my way, then I'll paint the shelves . . ."

Well, I still haven't painted the shelves.
The table took on a life of it's own.
I thought, "This is a classic table. I'll paint it white."
Then I thought, "Those little circles could really make it pop," so electric blue.
And then, "The legs look bare now . . ."
"Now the top needs some color," and I speckled it with blue and teal.
And then, inspired by painting outdoors. Above, the raw painting is in progress.

Following that were olive and milky glazes, sanding and distressing, and many layers of clear coat. A worthy picture will find its way here soon, but I brought it into the shop tonight by the light of a streetlamp.
So check back for the finished product in all of its refurbished glory.
] j [

>>> daylight

>>> in detail


FOUND: Tiny Legs!

You may remember my little floor table assembled from uncut upcycled deck board cutoffs.
 At the end of that post, I vowed to be vigilant in search of tiny  legs to make the table more ergonomic and functional. And vigilant I was.
As evidenced above, I found suitable material quite awhile back. It was the last haul in the old reliable Ford Ranger. These cutoffs were left over from making massive stakes and braces from lineal 2x4s.
I have finally gotten around to Project Tiny Legs, by the simple virtue of procrastination: I was able to put off another project by completing this one! I firmly hold that both designing and making are visual processes, so I always organize available materials visually before selection and layout.
Even for something as simple as attaching three legs, this exercise ensures that I think everything through before I start screwing it all . . . together . . .
With the legs attached, I turn my attention to the final detail: feet. The idea behind a three point base is to avoid rocking, regardless of the levelness of the floor. This is best achieved if the feet can end in a ball joint, allowing 3D rotation, or a single* point. (*theoretically)
 Opting for the simpler solution, I used an electric sheet sander to shape the feet. A sanding block or sandpaper would have worked just as well, only taking longer. This could also be done with a chisel, band saw, or jig saw. The curved facet is as close to a single point as it needs to be, ensuring that each leg lands on a relatively small surface area. Since a tangent is preferable to a sharp point, wooden spheres make excellent feet for furniture.
The table takes wing!

Now that I have finished a prototype, I'm itching to make a more refined variation . . .


SOLD!: Harley Davidson FXR Black Death Replica and some funky looking shelves!

This is great news. As is the case here at CARPEntryDIEM, interest in the actual bike is global.
With the custom FXR already on the way to the buyer, we are certain to collaborate on another Black Death Replica soon, in addition to other bike designs. I use collaboration loosely since my tiny paint job is only the icing on a very badass cake. And I am quite glad Mickey Rourke's goons didn't come to get me.

For no apparent reason, let me now confess my love for FX Series Sons of Anarchy. Over at Hollywood Reporter I read some exciting teaser news about the hit show's upcoming season 5. It couldn't be of much interest if you are not into the show, but my revelation may explain the sudden enthusiasm for working with a custom motorcycle fabricator . . . even a tangential involvement in bike production has always been a fantasy for me, kind of like being a NYC bike messenger.

Today was full of great news. My bookshelf at Hip Thrift also sold, unpainted.
On Monday I plan to build another with similar properties, after a round of wood scouring down by the river. The next one will probably get paint on the shelves to pretty them up a little bit. Today was a sidewalk event at Hip Thrift with live music and putt putt and treats for the kids. I dropped by and it was definitely hopping.

Is anyone interested in having the next bookshelf fully documented as a tutorial? Please let me know.
] j [


Back to Familiar Territory

Well a week on St. Thomas was just what the doctor ordered - thanks Mom!  We had some epic long-snorkels and adventures every day on land as well.  If there is enough interest I could post a detailed log of our days and hopefully get the pictures uploaded from Mom's camera . . .

Great New Development: I have linked up with Amy of Hip Thrift in West Asheville to create reclaimed furniture on sale for consignment!  My first piece, a simple bookshelf, is on the floor now.  If it doesn't sell soon, Amy will apply her trademark painting flair.  More furniture is on the way . . .
Amy and I went down by the river to collect discarded wood. We had to pass up plenty of boards that were just too old to use.  By far the biggest catch was a ravaged fence that clearly was not getting back up before becoming music for earthworms.  It's perfect as a backing material, which stabilizes shelving and keeps things from falling down between a bookshelf and the wall.
I found this old shelf stock in the basement. I never asked from whence it came but I suspect it was installed somewhere in the shop before Amy launched her amazing Hip Thrift.  Odd detail: 1-1/2" x 1/4" flats nailed as nosing on 1x12 dimensional lumber.  I decided to flip that nosing onto the back of each shelf.
Now this is where it's at!  A 6-1/2 foot tall bi-fold closet door with slats will be used as stiles to support the shelves.  First I stripped all of the hardware, saving it for future projects of course.
I cut down the shelves to a uniform length, 30".
Out of the thick bottom rails of the closet doors I used a jigsaw to create legs.

(The fencing required no cuts, always a good feeling)
The final piece measures approximately 32"w x 79"h x 12"d.

Come to Hip Thrift to check out more by me and some very talented local artists and artisans.
201 Haywood Rd
Asheville, NC 28806

(see more simple handmade wood projects here)