The Hang Fire Books Blog

The rantings of a bookdealer in Brooklyn, New York.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Built-in Bookcase

When Alice and I first viewed the apartment we eventually bought, I walked through the front door, saw this spot and yelped "THAT'S A PERFECT SPOT FOR A BUILT-IN BOOKCASE!"

The agent gave me an odd look, nodded and finished showing us trivial things like the bedroom and kitchen, but this nook was what stuck with me.

Finally about two weeks ago we purchased $100 dollars worth of cheap lumber and made my OCD bibliophile dreams come true.

Here's the structure. There are four fixed shelves (including the header and footer) that are attached to slats that serve as wall anchors. The rest of the shelves are adjustable.

This left cubby holes above and below the header and footer which I knew exactly how to use...

When I was a kid, my dad brought home a mint condition copy of Superman #100 that he found inside the wall of a building he was helping to tear down. I thought this was the coolest possible way to date a bit of construction, so Alice and I collected some offerings to tuck into the cubby holes.

We found:
  • 1 ivory-handled curved pocket knife
  • 1 wind-up cow
  • 1 Photon iron-on patch
  • 1 back issue of Trunk Stories
  • 2 wooden nickels
  • 2 mysterious keys
  • 1 screwdriver charm
  • 1 Korean medallion
  • 1 Terry Schiavo pin
  • 1 2007 penny
and here they are in place

The molding is what really kicked this up a notch, and says HOMEOWNER rather than shiftless rental transient.

Here's me (in my heavy construction pajamas) tacking on the footer molding strip. The bottom-most piece of molding is attached separately because floors tend to be uneven and you can use it to cover up the gaps.

Finally here's the finished product pre- and post- smutty paperback inundation.

We used a semi-gloss paint on the outside and nearer to a matte on the inside (because things tend to stick to glossy I learned building the DVD shelves in the background) then buffed the whole thing with furniture wax.

Alice and I agree it's the most substantial thing we've ever constructed and it came out so inexplicably beautiful that I'm posting these pictures to prove we actually built it.


Matthew Tiffany said...

That's an excellent bit of craftsmanship. Nice work.

William Smith said...

Thank you! Originally, since the Pbs were going to need to be double stacked, we considered doing a two-part shelf; the back row fixed, and the front row on rolling casters. That way I could have accessed all of the books without moving the front stacks, and the moving shelf could have closed off the rooms to either side to make for more efficient air conditioning. Decided that was way too ambitious though (especially lacking a table saw).

Bruce said...

Great work

Gee and I feel all proud when I put together one of those Ikea ones.

Yeah my books are double stacked also, and a I still in need of another bookcase to got with the other two.

William Smith said...

You know, 9 times out of 10 I find it easier to build from scratch that to suffer through Ikea instructions. I have a small ikea cabinet (a "Kubbe") over my desk. You have to build the frame using those inside the board fasteners that are next to impossible to remove, then mount the doors and adjust the hinges once hung. I did all this only to discover that 2 sets of holes were drilled 1/2 inch off. I had to disassemble the entire thing and drill new holes. It's up and working now but I'm still bitter.