Library Sneak Peek

Every reader needs a library, and Tony’s been planning his since the first time we set foot in this house. Last fall and winter he installed the cabinets that will serve as the book shelf bases, but the project has been stalled since then. Lately he’s been itching to do some book shopping, and I have been the curmudgeon who says, “Not until you build the shelves.” After all, each of those base cabinets, as well as several boxes in the guest room, are crammed full of books he already owns! With the bathrooms all finished and our entertaining events complete, he’s finally had a chance to get to work on a home for all those books. Here’s a sneak peek: 

Sure, I’m a little biased, but I think Tony’s  technique for building these shelves is pretty darn cool. He took several 1×12 common boards (since the shelves were going to be painted, we didn’t need to worry about a particular type of wood) and left three pieces whole to serve as the legs of the structure. Then he cut and attached 1 x 12 shelf support pieces, leaving just enough space between the cut boards for each shelf.  That way the integrity of the exterior boards was left fully intact, but each shelf would be well supported. You can kind of see how everything fits together in this photo:   

Tony roughed everything together to make sure it would assemble in real life the way it did in his head, then he roughed it in again on top of the base cabinets. You can never be too careful!  

And it’s a good thing he did all that, too, because he realized then that the walls were not plumb (at a 90 degree angle from the floor). That in itself is not all that surprising in this house, but the two inch difference from ceiling to base cabinets was! Two inches is enormous for such a short distance (about 6 feet). At this point Tony was understandably discouraged. His vision for his space was not panning out, and he briefly contemplated scratching the whole project. I could not have that! We have boxes and BOXES of books that MUST have a place to live!! Thank the Lord, he was able to figure out a work-around.


He ended up violating the cardinal rule of woodworking, and installed the shelf legs at a slight angle, splitting the difference from top to bottom with some shims. If you look carefully and from the right angle, the finished unit does look the tiniest bit crooked, but the chimney and door trim are crooked too so there really was no hope in that department. The shelves themselves are perfectly level though!                

Tony attached the whole thing to the wall by screwing the legs to studs in the wall, and because he had another piece of wood to hold up the shelves, he was able to hide the screws in the gaps. That’s why you don’t see any screws near the top. He wasn’t able to do that at the bottom though, so you see the Kreg-Jig holes he had to drill there.  

Do you like how that outlet is crooked? I do too – about as much as kick in the head. Thanks for nothing, crooked stud!       

The cavity at the top of the shelves was left there for the lighting that will be installed. Tony ran the electrical way back when he installed the base cabinets, but it won’t be all hooked up and functional until the whole room is complete. Crown molding will finish the room off and will hide all the wiring once all four shelving units are installed.    


Tony added trim pieces to hide all those joints from attaching the multiple 1 x 12s together. The trim also helped him conceal the not-even-close-to-plumb-walls problem too.  

 He was very patient, waiting a full week to let the paint cure, before he started loading them up!  

In case you’re wondering about the light fixture, it’s an exterior light. I looked and looked for an appropriate light fixture in the interior lighting section, to no avail. All the interior sconces looked like bathroom lights, or they pointed upwards, which would clearly not work for this application. Then I discovered this blog post where a woman detailed her own library installation, and her lights were gorgeous. She went with an exterior light, so I did the same! It is absolutely perfect, and really complements the existing bronze chandelier.  

Our next steps are shelves over the desk, before moving on to the other side of the room. Then, finally, we’ll install that crown molding!  I’m so excited for it to be done!

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4 Responses to Library Sneak Peek

  1. Barbara DeJardin says:

    Very, very nice! Good work, Tony.

  2. Nancy Clewell says:

    Fabulous! Great job Tony!

  3. Mike says:

    Roses are Red, Violets are blue, Bob is a builder, and Tony is too!

  4. Jami says:

    Looks great. I really like that you can see the brick. Cool!

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