How to Build a Ladder Bookcase

Cutting the Parts Step 1

To make the rails (A), use a power mitersaw to cut two pieces of 2x6 oak to 72 inches long with a 10-degree angle on the ends. If you don't have a mitersaw, use a protractor to lay out the 10-degree angles and cut with a circular saw.

Step 2

Cut a scrap piece of 1x6 to 12-1/8 inches long with 10-degree angles at both ends. You'll use this assembly template later for positioning the shelves on the sides.

Step 3

To make the stock for the shelf bottoms, rip-cut pairs of 4-foot lengths of oak 1x12 to10 inches (B), 1x10 to 8 inches (C), 1x8 to 7 inches (D), and 1x6 to 5 inches (E). Make the cuts on a tablesaw or use a circular saw with a rip guide.

Step 4

Crosscut the 4-foot pieces into 22-1/2-inch-long pairs. Make the cuts with a stop-block setup on your power mitersaw or crosscutting jig. Or you can set up a stop block on the tablesaw as shown in Step 8. Crosscut 1x4 oak to make the pairs of sides (BB, CC, DD, and EE).

Step 5

Lay out the pivot point as shown in the drawing below. Use a compass to draw a 2-inch radius at the top front corner of the rails and each side piece. Cut the curves with a jigsaw.

Use a Protractor

It's difficult to start cutting an angle with a circular saw at the corner of a board. Instead draw a 90-degree layout line about 1/2 inch from the board's end. Align the protractor to this line when you are laying out the 10-degree cut on the ends of the rails.

Safety First: Be Sure to Clamp for Angled Cuts

Starting an angled cut with a circular saw can be difficult because one side of the saw's guard contacts the wood first and the pressure pushes the saw to one side. To prevent this, lift the guard slightly as you start the cut. This makes cutting a two-handed operation, so be sure to clamp the workpiece firmly to the bench or sawhorse.

Stop Block on the Tablesaw

The workpiece should never contact the rip fence when you make a crosscut because the piece can bind, causing dangerous kickback. However, there is a safe way to use the rip fence as a stop for several crosscuts of the same length.

First, clamp a block of wood to the fence and measure between the block and blade to set the fence for the length you need. Lock the fence, slide the block toward the in-feed side of the saw, and reclamp. Before turning on the saw, put a workpiece against the miter gauge, bump it against the block, then slide it forward. Make sure the piece will no longer contact the block when it reaches the blade.

Draw a 2-inch Radius: Use a Compass for Layout

To lay out the 2-inch-radius cuts, measure 2 inches from both sides of the corner and mark where the measurements intersect. This is the pivot mark. Set a compass to 2 inches, set the point on the pivot mark, then draw the radius.

Options to Consider: Add an Edge Detail

Add visual interest to your bookcase by routing a detail along the top and front edges of the shelf sides and rails. The detail can be an edge bead like the one shown here, a chamfer, a roundover, or anything else you like. Rout before you attach the shelves to the rails.

Continued on page 3:  Assembling the Parts


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