Bookshelf Woodworking Plan
Manufactured boards with veneered faces, sometimes called decorative boards, can make quick work of any project. However, the exposed edges of veneered plywood and MDF are vulnerable to damage and not at all attractive. To overcome this drawback, you can buy ready-made solid wood trim to match the most common types of veneer, or you can make your own if you have the right tools. This bookshelf was made from boards veneered with American white oak, edged with darker oak trim to provide a contrast.
• 760x610mm (30 x 24in) of 12mm (1/2in) veneered plywood or MDF (medium-density fiberboard)
• 2.7m (9ft) of 19mm (1/4 in) angled moulding for edge trim
• Wood glue
• Panel pins (brads)
The dimensions of this small shelf unit are provided as a guide only. You can alter them to suit your own books or any other items you may wish to display. A suitable height for most paperbacks is 205-255mm (8-10 in). Bear in mind that 12mm (1/2in) boards will sag under heavy loads if you make the shelves too wide.
1. Set out the profile on one end of the unit, cut it out and use it as a pattern for the other end to ensure that they are a perfect match. Scribe the angled cuts across the grain with a sharp knife to avoid tearing the grain of the thin veneers. Cut just outside the line with a jigsaw, if you have one, or a sharp crosscut panel saw.
2. Clamp the angled ends in a vice so that they are horizontal, then plane them down to the scribed lines with a block plane. Work with the grain angled away from you to avoid damaging the veneer. A block plane, with a finely set, sharp blade, is the ideal tool for working this material.
3. Form the housings for the shelves with a router, running it along a straightedge pinned to the inner face. A good way to ensure accuracy is to clamp the two ends together tightly and cut the grooves in one operation. Pin a strip of scrap wood to the board edge to prevent breakout at the end of the groove.
4. The boards can vary in thickness depending on the type of veneer. It is not always possible to match the size of the board exactly to the diameter of the router cutter. If necessary, plane small rebates (rabbets) on the underside of each shelf until it fits the grooves perfectly. This also improves the strength of the glued joint.
5. Apply glue to. the housings and slot the unit together. It is good practice to use the glue sparingly. Any excess will have to be removed completely to prevent discoloration of the veneer at the finishing stage. Wipe off with a slightly damp cloth, and avoid rubbing glue into the grain.
6. Sash cramps are ideal for holding the assembly steady while pinning the shelves In place. Small panel pins are sufficient for a small unit such as this. Check that all corners are square and leave to set overnight. Note the small scraps of wood used to protect the veneer.
7. Cut two lengths of angled moulding to trim the front edges of the shelves. The moulding shown has a small shadow line, or “quirk”, running along its length. This is designed to help conceal the heads of the panel pins when punched down with a nail set ( punch; see figure).
8. The same moulding is used to trim the end panels. Mitre the ends at the corners with a small tenon saw or adjustable mitre saw. To determine the correct angle for the mitred corners, place a short section of moulding in position and use it to mark pencil lines on the end panel, parallel to the front edges. Draw a line from the corner to the point of intersection to bisect the angle exactly. Then use this as a guide for setting an adjustable bevel gauge.
9. Apply wood glue to the front edges of the end panels and pin the mouldings in place. Notice how the minimum of glue has been used. This is to prevent any excess from being squeezed on to the veneer surface when the pins are punched in with the nail set. When the glue has dried, apply colored stopping to each pinhole with a small spatula or modeling tool before sanding smooth all over, ready for finishing.