Build A Bookcase This Father's Day

  • DIY with kids, father and son build a bookcase together

Spend Father’s Day in the workshop this year and pass on your DIY woodworking skills to the next generation. Here’s a simple project that gives your child the chance to spend the day with Dad and get hands-on DIY experience.
The parts for this bookcase are cut from standard-sized pine, costing about $120 in total. It has five shelves, including the top and base, four legs and a back made of four boards. The laminated decorative top panel is made by joining two boards with biscuits.
For extra strength, the shelves and legs are also secured with biscuit joints, using a biscuit joiner to cut the slots.
Cut the timber parts to length and bevel the legs with a mitresaw, and use a router to chamfer the decorative top.
TIP You can also use a circular saw or handsaw and leave the top edge square.

Cutting the biscuit slots

For consistent biscuit slots, mark the width of the boards and the slot centres on an offcut of 42 x 42mm timber, then use it as a fence for the biscuit joiner.

Clamp the fence to the work surface and butt each side against it. Centre the biscuit joiner on the marks, then cut the slots at the ends.

Mark the shelf positions on the sides, then clamp the fence and align the biscuit joiner with the slot centre marks to cut the slots.

Cut the edge slots on the top, the sides, and on the ends of the shelves, pressing the biscuit joiner base plate firmly to the workbench.

Cut the leg slots using the biscuit joiner’s height control to raise the slot height, or use an offcut of 12mm plywood as a spacer.
cut biscuit slots using a mitre saw
Cut the leg slots using a mitresaw 
Step 1. Cut the parts

Use a pencil and measuring tape to mark the parts, drawing lines across the boards with a try square. Clamp each board securely to a mitresaw base plate and cut to length.

Step 2. Mark shelf positions

Position the sides edge to edge with the inside faces up. Mark the base lines for the shelves 224mm apart across both sides using a builder’s square and a pencil.

Step 3. Mark the biscuit slots

On the sides, mark biscuit slot centres 50 and 325mm from each end. Position each side between two legs with their tops flush, then transfer the centre marks to the legs.

Step 4. Bevel the legs

Secure two pieces of scrap timber to a plywood square at right angles to make a jig, then clamp it to a mitresaw fence, cutting a 10° bevel to extend 75mm up from the base of each leg.

Step 5 . Add the biscuits

Use a temporary fence to align the biscuit joiner to cut the slots. Apply PVA adhesive in the slots of one side and onto the biscuits using a small flat brush, then insert the biscuits.

Step 6 . Assemble the shelves

Apply adhesive to the shelf ends and tap into position on the side. Add the other side, measure the diagonals to check for square, then secure with sash clamps until the adhesive dries.

Step 7. Chamfer the top

Use a router and 45º chamfering bit to bevel the front and sides of the edge-laminated top. Drill 4mm clearance holes through the top shelf to secure with screws from underneath.

Step 8. Secure the legs

Spread PVA adhesive in the slots and along the front edge of the sides, then insert the biscuits. Position the legs with the bevel on the inside, then tap into position, clamping until dry.

Step 9. Attach the back

Position one back board at a time, flush with the top and base shelves, drill 2mm pilot holes and secure with screws. Sand the bookcase with 180 grit abrasive paper, then apply a finish.

Click on the diagram

Follow the labelled diagram to build the bookcase. It has the name of all the parts and the measurements to help you cut the components and assemble the bookcase.  

Click on the cutting list

Follow the cutting list to build the bookcase. It has the name of all the parts and the measurements to help you cut the components and assemble the bookcase.  

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