How to Build a Fireside Bookcase

Assembling the Case Step 1

Place the sides next to each other with their inside faces up and ends flush. Lay out the positions for the top of each shelf cleat (F) as shown in the Shelf Layout Diagram. Mark the cleat positions with an X so you'll attach the cleats on the correct side of the lines.

Step 2

Apply glue to each of the shelf cleats and secure them to the inside of the sides with 1-1/4-inch brads. Square each cleat to the front and back of the sides.

Step 3

The second shelf from the bottom will be hidden behind the doors, not covered by the face frame. Cover the front edge of this shelf with oak veneer edge banding. Lightly sand with 120-grit sandpaper to round the front edge.

Step 4

Apply glue on the top edges of the sides and install the top piece (B) with 1-1/4-inch drywall screws. Put glue on the bottom cleats and on the edges of one shelf (C). Hold the shelf firmly on the cleats while you drive 4d finishing nails through the sides into the shelves. Install the remaining shelves the same way.

Move the Glue

When gluing the cleats to the sides, move the cleat slightly back and forth a few times along the layout line. This ensures even distribution of the glue and helps the glue grip -- you can even feel the glue grabbing as you do this.

Lay Out Nailing Guidelines

When nailing through the sides and back into the shelves, it's easy to misjudge a nail's position, causing it to poke through the inside of the bookcase. To prevent this, before assembly, extend the cleat layout lines lightly in pencil around the outside of the sides. Then, when you put the back in place, extend the lines onto the back. Nail about 3/8 inch above the lines. A little sanding will remove the lines from the sides.

Refresher Course: Prefinish the Back

It's much easier to apply finish to the back before you install it, and you will get a much better result because you can apply the finish with long even strokes.

Continued on page 4:  Cutting the Face Frame


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