Build a Better Bookcase

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I know what you’re thinking: Who needs bookcases in a world where newspapers and novels get read on smart phones and tablet computers? It’s a valid point. But it’s just as important to recognize that bookcases hold many items besides books. So if you’d rather refer to this furniture item as a “shelving unit,” that’s fine. But us old-timers will probably stick with the more literary label. 

No matter what terminology you use, a bookcase can provide valuable storage space anywhere in the house. There are plenty of inexpensive factory-made versions you can buy—an acceptable choice, if you like coated particleboard and knock-down fasteners that tend to work loose over time. But with a little time in the workshop, you can produce bookshelves that look better and last longer. Just as importantly, you have the advantage of sizing your shelving unit to fit a particular space and store particular items. 

The tips for better bookcases that follow just ahead can be applied to just about any bookcase you build, no matter the size. The construction sequence for the unit shown above begins on p. 38. To put a first-class painted finish on this cabinetry, you’ll also want to check out the article on p. 49.

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