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Video Tutor

Building a Book/Supply Shelf

Simple project hones basic but critical skills

Text and video by Tom Hintz

Posted – 7-16-2012

When I needed to make better use of a small area in my office a small shelf unit was in order. Whether you call this a shelf or book case, the construction techniques remain the same – and just as important. A unit like this is really just a long box and like all box projects must be square to work properly.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is sizing all of the pieces correctly. The upright sides must be identical in length and the cross pieces (shelves) must also be identical in length to each other. Because the shelves will fit into a dado in the sides, those cuts all must be square and to the same depth.

From there the most crucial step is assembling the unit and making certain that it is square at every step. Then after assembly make sure that the whole thing is square before you leave it for the glue to dry. Many a perfect-looking projects like this wind up with a shim or two under one side because the assembler hurried or just did not check the unit for square. For more on measuring for square see my story on Building a Basic Box in the Basics section of NewWoodworker.com.

Though this unit will not hold anything overly heavy I decided to add a screw cleat under the top shelf. With the finished unit in its final position I can run a long screw through this cleat and into a stud to give the unit extra stability and just peace of mind.

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