Building a modern LEANING Bookshelf w/ Ebonized Oak // How To – Woodworking

Building a modern LEANING Bookshelf w/ Ebonized Oak // How To – Woodworking

I started this project by breaking down the
White Oak boards I used for the shelves on the bookshelf. I picked up this 4/4 White
Oak from my local lumber dealer Asheville Hardware, and luckily it was already S3S,
or surfaced on three sides. This meant that I could just cut the boards
to rough length at the miter saw, joint one edge at the jointer, and then rip them to
width at the table saw. When ripping them, I removed as little material as possible,
just enough to be left with a clean edge on both sides of each board. After cutting down the shelves, I started
laying them out to make up the panel sizes I’d need for the bookshelves. The shelves
get narrower as they go up the bookshelf to match the angled front leg, so each panel
size was slightly different. Out of sheer luck, I was able to match up the pieces with
almost no waste, usually with only about ¼” of extra width on each shelf. Next, I laid out locations for Dominos, which
I used for alignment. Since these boards were already milled down to about ⅞” thick,
I didn’t want to remove much more material when flattening them after the glue up. Dominos
were super helpful, but biscuits or dowels would also work well here. After cutting in the mortises, I could glue
up the panels, which required just about every clamp I had, you really can never have too
many clamps, and that was because I was gluing up six shelves in total since I was building
two of these bookshelves. To help with this, I ended up using this Titebond
Quick and Thick wood glue on the first few panels, which only required the shelves to
stay in the clamps for 15 minutes. Quick and Thick also dries clear, which is a really
nice feature for this kind of panel glue up. This isn’t sponsored or anything, I just
happened to pick up a bottle of Quick and Thick and really liked the way it worked,
and I’ll link to it in the video description if you want to check it out. Anyway, after letting the glue dry, I removed
the shelves from the clamps and scrapped off any glue squeeze out. And I should mention
that this shelf had regular Titebond since I ran out of the Quick and Thick, hence the
non-clear squeeze out. I let the panels cure overnight and then ran
them through the planer the following day to clean them up. Having a 20” planer is
definitely a luxury here, as I could run all of the shelves through at full size. Speaking of luxuries, I also ran the shelves
through my drum sander to further clean up the surface. This one-two punch of planer
then drum sander can take a board from rough to almost finish ready in just a few minutes
and is definitely a huge boost to my efficiency. Next, I ripped some strips from a few of the
extra White Oak boards, and I used these as a back edge for the shelves. Not only would
these strips help keep items from sliding off the back of the shelves, but they’ll
also help keep the shelves flat over time. To attach these strips to the edge of the
shelves, I cut in a rabbet using a dado stack at the table saw, which would provide an extremely
strong bond between the shelves and the strip. Finally, I could cut the shelves to their
final width and length, again at the table saw. I ripped the shelves to width, making
sure to account for the differing widths, and then pulled out my Rockler crosscut sled
to cut the shelves to length. This crosscut sled really came in handy on
this project and I’ll link to it in the video description if you want to check it
out. Unfortunately, I accidentally cut the first
shelf half an inch too short, which came back to haunt me later on, but we’ll get to that
a little later. After getting the boards cut to their final
size, I sanded them up to 120 grit prior to gluing the strips onto the shelves. I also went ahead and added a roundover to
the front edge of the shelf and the top edge of the back strip, since it’d be next to
impossible to do this after the glue up. Finally, I could get the strips glued onto
the shelves and I once again used most of my clamps during this process. I just made
sure the strip was aligned with the shelf then clamped it in place, checking it for
square after adding the clamps. With that, the shelves were good for the time
being, so I moved on to the lower cabinet, which makes up the bottom section of the bookshelf.
The goal with these cabinets is to provide an area to store my son’s toys in our den,
which is where these bookshelves will end up, and I plan to pick up some plastic totes
to fit in these drawers to help keep things organized. Or at least, that’s the hope,
we’ll see if that happens in real life. Anyway, I built the cabinet out of Red Oak
plywood, since I’d be spraying it black and White Oak plywood is much harder to come
by. I decided to add some hardwood edge banding
to the plywood, since I had some scraps leftover that would work well for this. I used ⅛”
thick edge banding on the top and bottom edges of the side panels, and I milled the edge
banding down at the planer and drum sander, and bandsaw. After cutting the edge banding pieces to rough
size, I glued it to the edges of the side panels with the help of some Rockler Bandy
Clamps. These things are incredibly effective for hardwood edge banding and I always seem
to need more than I have on hand. After the glue dried, I trimmed the ends of
the edge banding with a flush trim saw and then flushed up the edges with a trim router,
spiral bit, and this Little Lipper attachment from Fastcap. This inexpensive attachment
allows you to run your trim router on its side, making it perfect for flushing up hardwood
edge banding. This is by far the fastest way I’ve found
to trim hardwood edge banding, and it’s also the safest for the plywood in my opinion.
I’ve tried using a block plane but always seem to end up digging into the plywood veneer
when I get close to the surface, plus a block plane is much slower than a router. After flushing up the edge banding on the
top and bottom edge of the side panels, I added some thicker ¾” thick edge banding
to the front edge, once again calling on the Bandy Clamps. I used thicker edge banding
on the front edges of the panels so I could add a heavy chamfer to the front edge of the
cabinet without exposing the plywood edges. I repeated the same process on the top and
bottom cabinet panels and then trimmed them all flush after the glue dried. Once the edge banding was trimmed flush, I
came back and sanded the inside faces of the panels to make sure everything was nice and
smooth before cutting the joinery for the cabinet. For the joinery, I decided to go with rabbets,
and I cut them once again using my dado stack at the table saw. I set the height of the
dado stack using some setup bars, setting the height to ½”. I used a sacrificial
piece of plywood on the fence so that I could butt the blade right up against the fence,
and the dado stack width was set for ¾” plywood, which is actually 23/32” thick. After confirming the fit on a piece of scrap,
I cut the rabbets into the top and bottom edges of the side panels, and I also went
ahead and cut a ½” by ½” rabbet on the back edge of all of the cabinet panels to
house the cabinet back. With all of the rabbets cut into the panels,
I could go ahead and get the cabinet carcasses glued up, which went smoothly. Rabbets are
pretty much self squaring as long as you cut them square, and you just need to make sure
to close up any small gaps with clamps. I tend to go overboard when clamping cabinets
like this, but I ended up with gap-free joints. After the glue-up dried, I removed the clamps
and then flushed up one corner with my low angle jack plane. It was just slightly proud
and the plane made quick work of it. On the second cabinet glue up, I decided to
try these Rockler corner clamping jigs and they did seem to help keep things aligned
a little better than just the parallel clamps, probably because the panel alignment was referencing
off of my assembly table rather than me having to align them manually. The last piece for the cabinets was the back
panel, and I cut these from some of that scrap packing plywood I’ve had hanging around.
One side of this plywood looks fine, and the back of the cabinet will never be seen, so
I figured why not use it up. I attached the back panel with a few ¾”
screws and then the cabinet was done for the time being. The next thing to work on was the leg assemblies,
which run the entire length of the sides of the bookshelf. The entire weight of the bookshelf
rides on these leg assemblies, so I figured I’d make them from 8/4 stock to make sure
they were nice and strong. I picked up this gorgeous piece of White Oak
from Asheville Hardware and it was exactly the size I needed for the leg assemblies for
the two bookshelves, with just enough of an offcut for the ⅛” edge banding. I should mention that I didn’t actually
build all of these pieces in this order, since I could work on other things while glue was
drying, but I figured the build is easier to follow if I show it in chunks rather than
all split up. Anyway, I cut the board in half at the miter
saw, jointed one edge, and then ripped it into strips at the table saw. Next, I cut the shorter stretcher pieces to
size from some of the longer pieces at the miter saw before squaring up the parts. I
like to make parts like this as short as possible before squaring them up, as I typically end
up with straighter pieces this way and I can also remove less material. Speaking of squaring up the parts, next I
squared up one face and one edge on the pieces at the jointer and then ran them through the
planer to bring the other faces into parallel. I was going for 1 ½” square parts here,
so I could just run them through the planer then rotate the pieces 90 degrees before raising
the bed. While I’m planing, let’s talk about the
sponsor of this week’s video, Powermatic, the gold standard. As you guys know, I’ve
added a bunch of Powermatic tools to my shop over the past few years and they have been
total game changers for my woodworking. The added power of the bandsaw, the extra
width and gorgeous surface finish from the planer and jointer, and the precision of the
drum sander, just to name a few, have been absolutely amazing, and I know these tools
will last me for many, many years to come. To learn more about these machines, and the
rest of my Powermatic tools, check out the links in the video description below, and
thanks to Powermatic for sponsoring this week’s video and supporting what I do. After milling, I cut the pieces to their final
length at the miter saw, starting with the back legs. Since these had two 90 degree ends,
I could just set up a quick stop block and cut them to length. Next, I set the miter saw to 5 degrees and
cut the front legs to length, once again setting up a stop block. These front legs have a 5
degree angle on both ends, and the angles are cut parallel to each other. I also cut the bottom stretcher to length
off camera, and this piece has one square end and one end with that 5 degree angle. To determine the length of the top stretcher,
I clamped up the leg assembly temporarily and then marked the length based on the actual
size. I could have pulled this dimension from my 3D model, but it usually ends up being
more accurate to mark the length based on your actual pieces. Finally, I could set up one more stop block
based on my mark on the top stretcher and cut all of the top stretchers to length. I temporarily clamped the leg assembly together
and it looked great, nice and square with a subtle tilt to the front leg. While the leg assembly was clamped together,
I marked out locations for Dominos, which I used for the joinery here. That said, there
are a ton of options for joinery, including dowels if you want to use the same type of
method I did, or half laps, which would have been a little more complicated. My buddy Chris Salomone from Foureyes built
a similar bookshelf a little while back and used half laps, and I’ll link to his video
if you want to see that method. Anyway, with the Domino locations marked out,
I could cut the mortises into the pieces. I ended up using two 8mm by 50mm Dominos per
joint and this made for a super strong leg assembly. Also, I absolutely love my t-track
assembly table for projects like this. Being able to create a quick clamping jig for holding
the parts while I cut the Dominos was so convenient. Once I had cut all of the mortises, I could
glue up the leg structures, which went smoothly. I made sure not to use too much glue, to avoid
a ton of squeeze out, and I used some of the angled offcuts to help clamp the angled front
legs. It’s a good idea to always save some of these offcuts when working on angled pieces
like this, as they can really come in handy. Remember how I mentioned that I had cut my
shelves ½” shorter than the cabinet? Well, now I had to come up with a solution for that
problem. After thinking about it for awhile, I figured that cutting a ¼” deep dado in
the leg assemblies would be the easiest way to accomplish this, and it would have the
added benefit of giving the cabinets a little more support rather than just relying on screws
to attach them to the legs. First, I started by marking out exactly where
I needed to cut the dadoed section on the legs, to avoid accidentally cutting them in
the wrong spot, and I’d definitely recommend this, especially on something with angles
like this. Next, I set up my widest dado stack, since
I was going to be clearing out a lot of material, and then set the fence to the location I needed
to start the dado. I set the blade height to ¼”, since removing ¼” on each leg
assembly would give me my ½” of total width. With that, I could cut in the first dado,
establishing one end of the larger dado. I moved the fence to cut the other end of
the dado, cut it on both pieces, and then could start clearing out the area in between
the two dados. This went pretty smoothly, except that I didn’t
support one end of the leg assembly when clearing out the first dado. This meant that the leg
assembly started to sag as I was cutting, resulting in the dado getting deeper and deeper
as I went. This resulted in a small gap between the leg assembly and the cabinet on this first
piece, but it pretty much disappeared with the black cabinet against the clear coated
Oak legs. Luckily, I figured this out on the first leg
assembly and was able to use a ½” strip of plywood as a spacer on the rest of the
legs to avoid this. You’ve seen me working on two of the four
leg assemblies, since I’m building two of these bookshelves, up until this point, and
next I needed to work on the other leg assemblies, which angle in the opposite direction. Luckily, I could just set the fence on the
crosscut sled to match the 5 degree angle on the front legs and cut the dados using
the same technique. After cutting the dados on all of the leg
assemblies, I could clamp them to the cabinets to test the fit and, thankfully, they fit
really well, and it was really exciting to start to see the bookshelves coming together. With the legs clamped in place on the cabinets,
I went ahead and marked out locations for screws, pre-drilled the holes, and then drove
in some 1 ¼” screws. I ended up coming back and adding some beefier Fastcap Powerhead
screws, which have a lot more holding power than these smaller screws, since once again,
the weight of the entire bookcase is riding on this connection. Next, I could work on getting the shelves
attached to the leg structures, and I decided to use pocket holes for this. I added three
pocket holes on each side of each shelf, one at the front leg and two at the back leg,
with one going through the shelf and one going through the back strip. I fit the shelf temporarily to mark the pocket
hole locations and then drilled the pocket holes, using my marks to line up the shelf
with the jig. After drilling the holes, I clamped the shelf
in place, using some spacer blocks I cut to set the spacing between the shelves, and then
used 1 ¼” pocket screws to attach the shelves to the legs. I made sure to use pocket screws
with finer threads, which are designed for hardwoods, to avoid splitting the legs. I
could have definitely used longer screws, but these are honestly plenty strong as is. I just worked my way up the bookshelf, using
the same 12 ½” spacers between each shelf, and then repeated the process on the other
bookshelf. With that, the main structure of the bookshelf
was done, so I could move on to making the drawers for the lower cabinet. Once again,
I used my favorite Blum undermount drawer slides, and I have an entire video on making
drawers for these types of drawer slides, so I won’t go into too much detail here. The one difference on these drawers vs the
drawers I’ve built for these slides in the past was that I decided to go with a ½”
thick drawer bottom, rather than ¼” thick, since these drawers are so big. This doesn’t
really change much on the drawer construction besides needing to cut a wider groove in the
drawer box front, back, and sides to accept the ½” panel. After cutting the grooves on the inside face
of the drawer box parts, I notched out an area on the backs of the drawers to accept
the drawer slides, and then I could get the drawer boxes assembled. As usual on these types of drawers, I went
with smaller pocket holes, using the Kreg Micro Drill Guide in my pocket hole jig. These
smaller pocket holes work much better in ½” thick material and I’d definitely recommend
them for ½” drawer boxes. I assembled the drawer boxes with a little
glue and some ¾” pocket screws, making sure to clamp them together to avoid the parts
slipping around while I drove in the screws. The nice thing about using screws here is
you can remove the clamps immediately after adding the screws, since they provide the
clamping pressure while the glue dries. Next, I went ahead and got the drawer fronts
cut to size and added the handle cutouts, which have become a favorite of mine lately.
In case you missed it, I made a template for this handle cutout during my dual Murphy bed
project and I’ve used this same template a bunch of times since that project. I centered the template on the drawer fronts,
traced the outline of the handle cutout, and then rough cut it with my jigsaw since these
drawer fronts wouldn’t fit on the bandsaw. Next, I attached the template to the drawer
front with some CA glue and painter’s tape and then flushed up the handle cutout to the
template at the router table using a small spiral flush trim bit. To avoid blowout on the top edge of the handle
cutout, I tried holding a backer block against the drawer front while I routed, but I found
that just routing slowly will help prevent pretty much all of the blowout I was experiencing. Next, I got the Blum slides installed using
this Rockler undermount drawer slide jig, which makes this a super simple process. I
set the offset on the jig to match the ¾” thick drawer fronts, clamped the drawer slide
and jig in place, then used a self-centering drill bit to pre-drill the holes. After attaching the slides, I drilled the
holes for the Blum slides in the drawer boxes using another Rockler jig, and then I could
attach the clips on the bottom of the drawers and drop the drawer in place. These slides
function beautifully and have a ton of adjustability built in, and I’d definitely recommend them
for any higher end furniture piece. Next, I got the drawer fronts attached. I
used a few spacers to help create an even spacing around the fronts and then pre-drilled
holes from inside the drawer boxes and added a few screws to attach the drawer fronts. With that, everything was assembled, so I
could then disassemble it all and move on to getting everything ready for finishing. I started by chamfering the edges of the cabinets,
adding a smaller chamfer to the sides and back edges then a heavier chamfer to the front
edge with that thicker hardwood edge banding. Next, I could work on the leg assemblies.
First, I worked on chamfering the edge where I cut the dado too deep on one of the legs,
and I used my spokeshave for this. The idea was to add a heavy chamfer in the shallower
area, so that there would be an even shadow line across the entire edge. Luckily, this
line basically disappears in the final piece, since the legs are against the black cabinets,
but chamfering the edge definitely helped. I also decided to add a roundover to the leg
assemblies, and I really should have done this before cutting in the dados. I didn’t
think about it at the time, but those dados basically made it impossible to use my router
table for this, which would have been faster and given me better results. Any time you add an edge profile like this,
it means lots of hand sanding to clean up that edge. I spent a solid four hours sanding
these leg assemblies and the drawer boxes, just to give you an idea of how much time
this process takes. I’m definitely thankful for audiobooks during these kinds of tasks. The last pieces to work on were the drawer
fronts, and I just added a light chamfer to them to make the handle cutouts more comfortable
on the hand, and then hand sanded those chamfers off camera. With that, I could finally get to spraying
on finish, and, as I mentioned, I used a black polyurethane for the cabinets. This is the
same finish I used on my home bar project and my live edge bed, and I really love the
finished look. It’s a one step finish, since it’s a tinted polyurethane, and it sprays
on really nice. I’ll link to it in the video description if you’re interested. Next, I sprayed on a water based polyurethane
on the rest of the parts. Luckily, I recently picked up a second gun for my HVLP system,
so that I could dedicate one gun to this black finish, and this made it really easy to swap
between the two finishes. I applied three coats of finish in total,
sanding with 320 grit after the second coat. With the finish applied, all that was left
to do was put everything back together, first attaching the leg assemblies to the cabinets
then reinstalling the drawers, then finally adding the shelves to the legs. With everything
put back together, I could call this project finished. If you enjoyed this video, go ahead and get
subscribed and ring that little notification bell so you don’t miss any of my future
project videos. While you’re at it, why not go ahead and check out this video of mine
that YouTube thinks you’ll enjoy. I think that’s it, so thanks for watching and, until
next time, happy building.

67 thoughts on “Building a modern LEANING Bookshelf w/ Ebonized Oak // How To – Woodworking

  1. Hope y'all enjoyed this one! I'll have plans available for this bookshelf soon, if you're interested. Go ahead and get subscribed to my email newsletter to be notified when they're live : // Thanks to Powermatic for sponsoring this video, learn more about their tools here :

  2. Perfect project bro ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™

  3. "ebonized oak"
    "cabinet carcases"
    this video is full of band names. But really, I love the look of this book shelf. I'd love to see a wider version for a media console. Or a much wider version to somehow make a desk with overhead shelf space.

  4. I have been looking for a nice desk design for my childrens bedroom. I think i might have ti di something along the lines of your design. I will make it so their legs can tuck underneath the cabinet so a single shallow drawer and maybe make it a bit deeper. Good thing is there is lots more storage above than a usual desk desgn so it will save space in our small flat. Nice job!

  5. Nice Woodworking .. with a complete tools and equipment.
    I have VIDEOS but we made our products without those kind of tools and equipment.

  6. I really liked the leg assembly/shelf supports without the round over. Not to say they don't look good with the round over, but you totally could have left them square and saved the 4 hours or so of sanding and still have had a stunning piece.

  7. This is a great build. Thanks for posting. How long did the build take you in total, after planning? Also, what program do you use to plan out your design?

  8. what are the dimensions you are using for the handle cutouts? I would like to replicate them in a project I am working on currently.

  9. Really missing your usual intro! Love you and your vids – hope to see more home improvement/makeovers and home DIYs soon! Huge fan!

  10. Great video Johnny and nice project too. Did you forget to put in the link to Chris' bookshelf? I looked for it but didn't see it. I would like to see those joints you mentioned. Hey, have a good week and keep on building great works. God Bless my friend.

  11. Great build. Would make a great set of night stands to build a headboard between. Side note, I have been using an 0.09 Pentel lead pencil for over 15 years, you're the first person I've seen use one on youtube.

  12. Would you recommend those rockler clamps? Iโ€™m on the fence with those bad boys. Specifically the corner clamping ones.

  13. You would be struggling down here below the equator ๐Ÿจto get those types of timbers or the price would knock it off the shopping list.

  14. Great value video project and huge knowladge also i would like shere with you other full package
    of Projects can do breathtaking wood furniture with all instuctions pictures and movies how to make that.feel free to check @t

  15. Great value video project and huge knowladge also i would like shere with you other full package
    of Projects can do breathtaking wood furniture with all instuctions pictures and movies how to make that.feel free to check @t

  16. Holy cow! I think I may live around the area you do! It's nice to see a local guy one here. That's really cool, or I think so lol. I'm in clyde, NC. Nice video. Really enjoyed it. And thanks for the heads up on the Asheville hardware place. I'd never heard of it till now. Thanks again.

  17. So do you have anything to filter out all of the extra spray from the air? I mean you're definitely going to need more than a little spray booth.

  18. I truly like your videos including this one. I do have a feeling you are going to regret the visible pocket holes on the top shelfs

  19. great and informative video as usual, please watch my latest wood working video, so as to view woodworking from an entirely different angle

  20. i really like these… would be perfect for the wall in my dining room area… I guess its another project on my list lol

  21. Awesome work! Few questions about your HVLP system.
    1) How long do you wait between coats of polyurethane before reapplying with spray gun &
    2) how long to you let the polyurethane sit in your spray gun before cleaning ?

  22. I've been planning something similar to tackle soon. Any reason you went with pocket screws to hold the shelves up rather than dowel joints through the legs?

  23. First off, great video.

    Secondly, watching Americans make stuff always reminds me how absolutely shitty imperial measurements are. How silly it is to do these mathematical gymnastics… 23/32nds of an inch?! What in the holy name of fuck!

  24. These videos are not for ordinary people, ie those of us that don't have the funds, space or sponsors , I don't even know why I'm watching this , just came off watching you woodturning with Ashley,,. PS, I won't be back ,,.

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