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Bookshelf as wide as the room...with sliding built-in bookends.

Bookshelf as wide as the room . . . with sliding built-in bookends

Sliding bookends give this 11 1/2-foot-long, room-wide bookshelf flexibility for light storage and display. Centered 2-inch-wide slots in the shelf let the bookends slide easily; the slight outward pressure of the books binds them in place.

Made of clear vertical-grain Douglas fir, the shelf system wastes no wood--the top, front lip, and shelf supports are cut from a 1-by-12 and the 9-inch bookends from a 1-by-4. One like it should take about 4 hours and cost $40 to build.

You'll need a table saw, saber saw, hammer, level, and 4-inch C-clamp. Also:

1 1-by-12 (long enough to span the width of the room)

1 4-foot-long 1-by-4

About 20 1 1/2-inch (4d) finishing nails

About 10 2 1/2-inch (8d) finishing nails

Sandpaper, glue, wood filler, and polyurethane sealer.

Building the shelf. With a saber or hand saw, cut the 1-by-12 to the width of the room, then, using the table saw, rip a 2 1/2-inch-wide piece for the front lip. Cut a 3/8-by 3/4-inch notch in the top edge of the lip piece (see end-view drawing).

In the remaining piece, center and mark the location for two 2-inch-wide slots running in a line down the length of the board. Leave a solid 6-inch bridge section in the middle and 6 inches at each end. Scribe both ends of each slot with a 2-inch semicircle.

To cut the slots, position the saw fence so the blade lines up with one of the slot lines, then lower the blade below the table's top. Place the shelf board above the blade and slowly raise the blade so it cuts along the line. Don't cut to the end of the line--because of its curvature, the blade extends farther than it appears.

Lower the blade, repeat for the same side of the other slot, then turn the board around and repeat for the other slot sides. Use a saber saw to complete the cuts and the semicircular ends. Save the cut-out pieces--they become the shelf supports.

Sand the slots and the supports. Use glue and the shorter nails to mount the front lip to the shelf (the lip gives it a more substantial look and reduces sagging.) Countersink nails and fill holes.

The bookends. To make four bookends, cut the 1-by-4 into 9-inch pieces; save the scrap piece. On one bookend, mark the position for 1-inch-deep notches (see sketch on page 150). The notches should be a hair wider than the thickness of the shelf's wood, so the notches slip smoothly over the shelf but won't allow much tilt.

With the C-clamp at the top end, clamp all the bookends together with the marked piece on the outside. Set the table saw fence 2 inches from the blade; raise the blade 1 inch above the table. Keeping the wood square to the fence, make a pass over the blade. To start the opposite notch, simply turn the wood over and repeat. Move the fence 1/8 inch farther from the blade and repeat. Continue until you have cut the full width of the notch. Complete the bookends by rounding the corners and sanding.

Cut the scrap 1-by-4 to 8 1/2 inches long, then rip it in half. These two pieces fit between the front lip and back wall to support the ends of the shelf.

Finish and mount. Before mounting the shelf and brackets, sand and seal them.

Use a level to mark lines on the side and end walls for the supports. Using the longer nails, anchor the two back wall supports to studs (if the small end supports don't span two studs, you may need expansion bolts to secure them). Place the shelf onto the supports and nail into them.

If you don't want to run the shelf the full width of the room, you'll need support brackets placed under sections that do not have slots. Another variation would be to build an open-faced box with any number of slotted shelves; the ends should be reinforced, but the box could hang from wall-mounted supports beneath the shelves.

Photo: Slots in center of room-wide shelf make tracks for easily moved bookends. They're inserted sideways, then twisted so notches slip over shelf

Photo: End view of shelf shows how front piece is notched to stiffen the slotted shelf

Photo: Slender bookend was made from a 1-by-4, the shelf from a 1-by-12. You can use any kiln-dried lumber
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1986
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