Simple Bookshelf: Episode 1

Simple Bookshelf Episode 1 Keyframe

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Accuracy in preparing your wood, truing up, trimming, planing and cutting to width and length determine the quality of the joinery and all must be accurate to the layout. This preparation paves the way for the ease and simplicity of making a great project. So take your time at this level and the subsequent work will be extra pleasing. Enjoy the process.


  1. David Alvarez on 13 November 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Extremely helpful, thanks Paul (and co.). It was most helpful because you demonstrated how to prepare the rough(ish) wood, which I am struggling with. Your comment, “this is the little thing(s) you do when you’re working with hand tools” went exactly to my struggle; I’m new to hand tools and didn’t have anyone to demonstrate ‘these little things’ until you came along. Imagine my delight! After 17+ years (machine) working wood, now I have somebody to show me how to do it with hand tools. I do have a question though; I noticed that, after evening up the two edges of the panels, you simply sighted along the edge and didn’t check them with the square, is there a reason for that? I ‘get’ the sighting along the edge and I imagine that, after all your experience, you ‘simply saw/felt square’ with your plane as you were evening them up. Is this true? If so, it give me faith that I will, eventually, ‘see/feel’ squareness as well, at least with the hand plane. Thanks for all your efforts, Paul &tc.

    • Izzy Berger on 14 November 2019 at 9:59 am

      Hi David,

      I passed your question on to Paul and he says:

      You do ultimately get to a place where you pretty much know it’s square, but periodically check yourself to make sure you’re not deceiving yourself.

      Kind Regards,

  2. Sandy on 13 November 2019 at 5:32 pm

    Simple but it’s a great project to practice housing daddos..

  3. mercified on 13 November 2019 at 5:52 pm

    I very much like the use of narration at the beginning. It is good way to cover an important topic (in this case, stock preparation) without repeating the in-depth treatment given the topic in other videos. Very nice.

  4. uumikew on 13 November 2019 at 6:07 pm

    You have not gotten that far yet but I would guess that these are going to be glued together. Is there a possibility to make them so the joints are not permanent. This would be a great help when moving them from say a dormitory at university to home or vice versa. Thanks for the great teaching videos, Wednesday is my favorite day for new things to learn.

    • joeleonetti on 14 November 2019 at 6:08 pm

      Paul did a video a few years ago (link below) on a bookshelf (different style but I’m sure adaptable to this style as well). He used a self tightening tapered dovetail joint rather than a housing dado (sorry, I don’t recall the proper name of the joint). In addition to that project, I’ve listed another project (coat rack) that uses that joint as well. I hope this helps.

    • Izzy Berger on 15 November 2019 at 8:40 am


      Thank you for your question, I passed it on to Paul and below is his answer:

      We are using screws to secure the joints and eliminate the need for clamps but we plug the heads of the screws, you could leave the screws unplugged in your case and not use glue. If you did plug the heads, don’t glue the plugs in and you can split them out later and replace them.

      Kind Regards,

    • YrHenSaer on 15 November 2019 at 11:12 am

      Good point about moving and dismantling… I had a similar requirement some while ago.

      For that, I used (and you may substitute), furniture bolts in place of screws in the vertical end pieces that engaged in threaded dowel-nuts (aka ‘Barrel Nuts’) embedded in the underside of the shelves. They were mostly invisible when it was assembled. Where the end sections were visible, I made some push-fit wooden caps for the bolt holes on a lathe, but they’ve departed years ago. That’s an embellishment you could probably leave out.
      This sort of thing: –

      They usually have Allen / Hex heads that allow you to tighten or dismantle in used without distorting any of the metalwork.
      The down-side, if there is one, is that the layout, recessing for bolt-heads and the threaded dowel drilling needs to be precise; it takes more time and may benefit from a well-thought set of jigs.

      However I have a set of these bookcases, 88 inches high, still in use after 25-plus years behind me and still going strong.

    • Sven-Olof Jansson on 15 November 2019 at 8:30 pm

      Discussions over alternative designs and approaches, I believe should be welcomed, and be part of the project introduction. Thus, here’s my humble contribution on making the bookshelf dismantlable.

      Threaded insets screwed into the edges of the top, middle, and bottom shelves (perhaps also into the toe board and pediment), with hex-bolts to be screwed in from the sides of the bookshelf, should provide good enough joints. As with Howard’s suggestion there would be holes on the sides to be covered, depending on where the bookshelf would be placed.

      The holes for the screws and insets can be drilled in one go during a dry fit, which makes alignment easy. The holes for the insets would then have to be widened, before the tricky part of inserting them.

      Supposedly sliding [non-]tapering stopped dovetails between the sides and the shelves could be an alternative, I’ve made some cabinet carcasses and shelf systems using that approach, and glue was certainly not needed. No fasteners would be needed and the sides of the bookshelf would be intact. I have made a simple jig with magnets to hold a saw blade or chisel at the desired angle.

      Lamello and Festool offer other solutions to invisible joinery – perhaps not that justifiable for a bookshelf made from construction spruce?

  5. Ray L on 13 November 2019 at 11:46 pm

    Ah! As Paul Bernard Rodgers once sang,”All right now, baby everything is all right now”.

  6. Joseph Sellers on 14 November 2019 at 4:13 pm

    Hello all!

    Thanks for all the comments!

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  7. david o'sullivan on 16 November 2019 at 11:11 am

    I am thinking of building this and putting doors on it ( I have some. Lovely pith pine ) it will be a stand alone kitchen pantry . And by the way it’s a complete different book self to the pervious one .design wise its similar but this one will have simpler approach .people are very fast to judge 😞

  8. Richard Hosea on 3 June 2020 at 2:22 am

    Hi Paul and Co.

    You use the bandsaw to make the boards thinner. If we don’t have access to a bandsaw, what would be an alternative method if you wanted the boards thinner?


    • Izzy Berger on 12 June 2020 at 2:40 pm

      Hi Richard,

      Paul says: I would use a scrub plane, plane tangential to the long axis. This would make an interesting video, I’ll work on it.

      Kind Regards,

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