Ron’s Oak Bookcase

Here’s a bookcase I designed as a Christmas present for my wife. While thinking over the design I needed to address a couple of things. First and foremost the design had to be basic and be quick to build. This couldn’t be another Christmas gift project she wouldn’t see until June. Second, it needed to be cheap to build. Cheap build means I need to use whatever species of wood I had the most of in the shop. Unfortunately, it was Oak.

The project is basically just casework using sheet goods with the exception of the ogee feet. Its dimensions are approximately 60″ high, 36″ wide and 12″ deep. With the exception of the face frame and ogee feet, everything used trim screws, pocket screws or wood screws as a way to clamp the piece while the glue dried and everything received at least a domino or two. The face frame is attached primarily with dominos with a couple of pocket screws in the top, none of which you can see. The half round you see on the ends was used to cover the veneer I burned through on one side. It was one of those mistakes that when you try to fix you only make it worse. I should know better. The ogee feet, although looking very complex, probably took the least time of anything. Using my table saw, router and scraper, I probably constructed the base in 3 hours or so. I will attach a Sketch Up file of the feet geometry if anyone is interested. It was imported from Auto Cad so please excuse any extra drawing garbage it may have brought along. The shelves will sag as they are only ply edge banded with oak but its all I had on hand. So sometime in the future, when I can’t take looking at sagging shelves any longer, I will replace what we have with something solid.

In trying to keep the process quick, I skipped any idea of color and simply shot three coats of precat lacquer on the entire project. This was done in pieces as it would have been virtually impossible to finish with the back attached!! So the unit was finished with the back unattached and when the lacquer dust had settled, it was attached. All in all I have about 15-20 hours invested and maybe $50 for the sheet of Oak for the back and a couple board feet for the face frame.


  1. AnthonyBklyn June 4, 2009

    Very nice, that’s an over all beautiful piece, the feet came out incredible

  2. Germain June 5, 2009

    That’s an amazing piece. Especially when you consider how inexpensive it was to build. My local hardwood supplier also sells unfinished furniture. Every time I go there I see oak bookcases which are similar, but not as nice, listed for over $400.

  3. Tommy October 12, 2009

    Man,,,,that is a nice bookcase. Outstanding woodworking!!

  4. Rob Cottle October 13, 2009

    Just my kind of project – Low cost from scrap around the house. Just hope that I will be good enought one day to make something like that come together. Turned out beautifully.

  5. Peter November 16, 2009

    Wow, nice work. Feel free to send some of that oak you hate so much my way :). I’m building a bookcase out of pine (it’s pretty much my first project… ever) and your piece is one of those that simultaneously inspires me and makes me want to take an axe to mine.

    Question for you, perhaps a strange one… I saw you mentioned the shelves are 3/4″ thick. How thick are the sides, back, and top?

    • Peter,
      Thanks for the kind words:) The shelf question isn’t too odd really. For speed and simplicty sake, at the time, I built the shelves from 3/4″ Oak plywood and banded just the front with a 1/2″ x 3/4″ piece of solid Oak. However, knowing the loads the shelves were sure to encounter I knew I truly needed solid Oak but… Yes the shelves are sagging and I have to look at them everyday until I get enough scrap together to build something better:) Hope this helps. If you need further help email me and I’ll see what I can do


  6. how do I access the sketch up file? It wont open? I’m using Safari as a browser.

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