Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Books Do Furnish a Room

The Darwin household has reached the point were several dozen books are stacked on the floor, and since all available wallspace in the livingroom is already lined with half-height Ikea shelving, it is time for full-height shelves.

However, since cash and time and not quite as scarce as they once were (and because I'm always a sucker for a project) I'm looking at starting to build my own shelving. There's not a whole lot truly nice furniture in the Darwin household, but there is one very nice bookshelf that we inherited from my grandmother, and the design seems like one that could be copied fairly successfully with a bit of care and attention. (I tried looking at the sort of stuff available through unfinished furniture stores, but I wasn't impressed with their design -- most of the shelves featured a frame around all four edges which made it impossible to see or pull out books in the outside inch on either side of a shelf.)

So I headed down to Fine Lumber and Plywood Inc. here in town on Memorial Day to get prices, and the plan is to head down after work today and pick up wood so I can get going. And being the sort of creature I am, I then set up a spreadsheet that allows me to vary the height, width, number of shelves and type of wood and then automatically recalculate the price.

In the end, it looks like building all-hardwood bookshelves is expensive enough that I'm thinking I should go all the way: 7ft tall, 3.5ft wide. I'm looking at soft maple or African mahogany, with red oak as a runner up -- but it's not that much cheaper than the maple and it has a rougher and more common look. I'd wanted to look at beech, to match the inherited shelf, but I'm not seeing it anywhere. And I considered cherry but it was far too expensive.

Assuming it doesn't turn into a total trainwreck, I may do some progress posts on the project over the next few weeks.


Anonymous said...

Good luck! I hope you don't get any splinters like a certain Cincy Darwin did! ;)

Rick Lugari said...

A spreadsheet?

St. Joseph, Able and Holy Carpenter, assist our friend with his project.

hehe ;)

Seriously though, I'm somewhat envious of your adventure. I've always had this underlying urge to do some carpentry projects like that but never enough for me to make the time and investment of equipment, etc. Best o' luck on it and do keep us posted on your progress.

Foxfier said...

I'd suggest you get pine and stain it cherry. It's usually fairly inexpensive, it's easy to work with, and you can get a nice range of sizes.

Darwin said...

Well, I went down to the warehouse and spent a while comparing options. In the end, I decided to spring for the mahogany. The maple looked good, but this is just amazing looking. And since the goal here is to put out some heirloom quality shelving, I figured it was worth the extra .90 per foot (plus it was available in more convenient lengths than the maple.

Must borrow a digital camera to do justice to this stuff...


Well, time is always an issue -- I'm figuring this means a month or so of putting off working on the M1 to get this thing sitting in my living room -- but on the tool front the beauty of parish friendships is that with a little asking around you don't have to buy any tools. Which is how I now have a table saw and router I don't own sitting in my garage -- though I may need to buy a few router bits.

MomLady said...

Have you done any research on how long you can reasonably make a shelf without its bending from the weight of the books? I once read that there was a maximum suggested length, but can't remember exactly what it was. Might have been around 36 inches.

Rick Lugari said...

That's cool that you were able to borrow the equipment. Thing is, I'm such a jerk that wouldn't be good enough for me. It's a psychological thing or something. I'd need to have the satisfaction of setting up my own little workshop - my own domain of sorts - with my own equipment (all organized the way I want it). Then it would be my sanctuary where I could commune with my dear patron, St. Joseph, by partaking in his craft and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

It's all a fantasy though. The reality is that I'm tired when I get home from work, there's absolutely no peace in my household and nobody would respect the concept of a private domain. I'm too hasty and utilitarian to be good at any kind of crafty finish work and I'm an utter slob when in the middle of a project. So I'll probably just have to settle for this vision of me gracefully manipulating wood into something artistic and useful. Good thing there's blogs...