Confronted with the necessity of making a built-in bookcase for a room we are redoing, I have sworn to simplify.
To begin with, I won't use hardwood. I couldn't afford it, anyway, and there's really little point. The bookcase, floor to ceiling and close to 8 feet wide, will look just fine painted white.Selecting the wood was an interesting experience. Lumber yards dealing in construction material sell their wares differently than hardwood suppliers, of course.
Hardwood is sold strictly by the board foot. Lumber yards, certainly, can quote you board foot prices for their pine and spruce, but since it is all strictly dimensioned wood they can also quote prices per piece.
I needed 1-by-10 lumber for this project and the ideal length to buy would be 8 feet. The uprights would be almost exactly 8 feet installed, the shelves just a little less.
I went first to a popular do-it-yourself center, the kind of place that often marks its construction-grade wood "whitewood." I've often been tempted to ask where the white tree grows, but nobody likes a wiseacre. This establishment had some nice lumber in just about every dimension but 1-by-10. The 1-by-10 "whitewood," however, was pathetic. I wouldn't mind a few knots - the wood has to be painted, after all - but this stuff was nearly all knots, and the knots on the edges were coming apart in big chunks.
So I went to the lumber yard in my neighborhood where I have always dealt, only to be confronted with the news that they didn't stock 1-by-10 in 8-foot lengths. They had 10-foot lengths, which would be wasteful, and 16-foot boards, which I couldn't get home safely. The clear pine, however, was just that - entirely clear and quite flat. They agreed to deliver it for a reasonable fee so I bought six pieces of it. It certainly wasn't cheap, unless you compare it to hardwood, but as usual you get what you pay for.
There will be a minimal amount of joinery in these bookcases - half-laps and dados - and a minimal amount of glue, if any at all.
No, folks, there will be nails in this baby. Swedish dowels, as Tage Frid would say. I may throw in a little glue for luck, but finish nails well set and covered with wood putty will be the primary fastener.
How's that for simplification? Hey, I may even get a carpenter's apron.