Leaning Wall Shelves Part 5: Assemble the shelves

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Woodworking Tutorials

We need shelves for a leaning wall bookcase so we are tackling those in this post.  This is only my second woodworking project so it should be doable for any beginner!  When I was assembling my first project, the closet organizer, I had not figured out the art of using clamps.  Information on clamps seemed nonexistent on YouTube.  So I made it up as I went and had problems.  Project #2 went much smoother after viewing some of the Kreg Jig videos on YouTube and watching what they did (these were videos on using the Kreg Jig, not on using clamps).  I tried to take pictures of my own set-up while constructing these leaning shelves, and I hope they help you.

Cut a front and a back for each shelf

After the bottoms of the shelves are screwed together, you need to cut a front and back for each shelf at 22.5 inches (same length as the bottoms).  For two shelving units you need 12 cuts.

Leaning wall bookshelf, assembling the top shelf

Drill pocket holes into the bottoms of the shelves

Next you need pocket holes on the bottom of your shelves in order to attach the sides.  If I could do this again, I would make the pocket holes on the top of my top shelf, since you can see these from underneath when used as the plant stand in my bathroom.  If you are not going to be able to see under your shelf, then drill the pocket holes with your Kreg Jig on the bottom of your shelves like so:

Pocket holes in bottom of leaning wall bookcase shelf for attaching the sides

Clamp one of the sides to your workbench

Now the cupping of the boards that I discussed in a previous post comes into play.  Make sure that the board cups toward the center of your shelf like this: (__) if you happen to have this same problem as I did.  Decide the orientation of your board and clamp it so the bottom of the shelf side is nearest you:

Clamp the front board for the leaning wall shelf to workbench

A bead of glue along the edge, smoothed out with a finger:

Bead of glue along the edge of board

Use the Kreg Right Angle clamp to secure the board:

Kreg Jig right angle clamp holds the board in place for leaning wall shelf

Screw into the board into the pocket hole right next to the clamp.  Repeat until done and then switch sides to attach the back of the shelf as well.

Here’s what you end up with, except one more of the biggest shelf there:

Fronts and backs attached to leaning wall bookcase shelves

Cut your shelf side pieces

This is why you don’t want to make all your cuts before you start to assemble.  Your sides are going to need to be custom measured.  I used the actual shelf, laid it on the board, marked it, squared the mark, and cut.  You are still going to end up with some funky edges–that’s the down-side of the cheap furring strip you started with…

Sand down the funkiness

But look what your sander and some 60 grit sandpaper can do (followed by 100 and 150 grit):

Particularly funky joins will result in something like this.  Notice that the ends round down to the edges.  Still looks better than mismatched joins.

Forget to do one of the steps for your leaning wall bookcase

Ana’s plans call for countersinking some screws through the sides into the front and back of the shelves.  I, uh, forgot to do that part.  You can’t tell now, but check back in a few years and I’ll let you know if that was a fatal mistake. (Update 5 years later–nope, not a fatal error, the shelves are still working perfectly!)

Shelves are assembled, but not sanded!  This means I am that much closer to having to modify those shelf legs.  Not worrying any less about that…

Assembled shelves for the leaning wall bookcase

Leaning wall shelves espresso finish

Have you ever forgotten a step in a project and discovered it once it was too late?  Sharing always makes you feel better, chime in below!

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