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Bon Voyage!  Build a Nautical Bookcase

 

This fun and relatively easy project fits almost anywhere.  It’s a great shelf for collectibles and books, and a conversation piece on its own.  Inspired by a photograph of a old canoe bookcase, this “boat” is fashioned from maple stock, but you may wish to embark on your project using pine, birch, or oak.  This is a traditional look that also shows off the beautiful wood grain, and is finished with Minwax conditioner, water-based wood stain and sealer for a finish rich in color and quality.


Plan

  1. outer tip strips (4) 1” x ¼” pine burlap – 80 ½”
  2. inner tip strips (2) 1” x ¼” pine burlap – 72 ½”
  3. sides (2) 9 ½” x 80 ¼” plywood
  4. prow support block (2) 1” x 5” x 4”
  5. prow support bottom 1” x 5 ½” – 9” angle 9°
  6. shelf 1” x 8” – 18” angle 75° (approx)
  7. shelf 1” x 8” – 23” angle 82° (approx)
  8. shelf 1” x 8” – 25 ¾” angle 88° (approx)
  9. shelf 1” x 8” – 25 ¾” angle 90° (approx)
  10. shelf 1” x 8” – 24” angle 85° (approx)
  11. shelf 1” x 8” – 20” angle 82° (approx)
  12. back (trace to fit)
  13. triangular prow piece 1” x 8” – 8 ½” x 8 ½” x 7 ½”
  14. dowel 1” x 9 ¾”
  15. bottom trip pieces (2) 1” x 2” – 6 ½” curve one corner


Supplies
  • wood glue
  • masking tape
  • 1” finishing nails
  • 5/8” finishing nails
  • paintable/stainable wood filler
  • sides: 4’ x 8’ x ¼” sheet of plywood
  • shelves 14 ft. 1” x 8” maple/birch/pine
  • trim ¼” x 1” x 7’ pine trim strips
  • 1 foot of 1” dowel

Toolbox
  • square
  • jigsaw
  • miter saw
  • sander
  • bench saw
  • hammer
  • nail set
  • bar spreader clamps
  • spring clamps
  • measuring tape
  • drill
  • brad nailer (optional)

 

 

 

  1. From 1 inch x 8 inch stock cut out the shelves and prow support pieces to size.  Each shelf has angles ends, which vary slightly in degrees to accommodate the curve in the sides of the bookcase (see plan list).
  2. From the 4’ x 8’ sheet of plywood, cut the two shelf sides to size.
  3. Lay the two sides together, and on the interior surfaces locate and mark the position of the shelves.  You may change the spacing of the shelves.  If so, the angled ends will vary from the diagram.
  4. Tape the two sides securely together at the “nose” of the shelf.  Using bar clamps, “dry fit” the shelves into position as shown in the diagram.
  5. Using 1 inch finishing nails, secure each shelf in place using three nails at each shelf end.  Do not set the nails at this time.
  6. Cut to size and install the two inner and two outer front 1 inch strips flush with the top of the shelf sides, using clamps, glue and 5/8 inch finishing nails.  Remove the clamps only when the glue has dried. 
  7. Install the two prow side support blocks flush to the bottom and top edges of the sides, using 1 inch nails and glue.
  8. Prepare to race and cut the back shelf panel by placing the assembled unit on the piece of ¼ inch plywood.  It is critical that that the bottom shelf be square to the top point of the shelf and that the curvature of the sides is uniform.  Clamp the bottom shelf and the top point in place when placement is correct, and trace out the back panel.
  9. Using the jigsaw, cut out the back panel.
  10. Set the cut back panel onto the shelf assembly and sure with 1 inch nails and wood glue along the back of each shelf.





 

Helpful hint:  If you plan to use different colors for the sides, shelves and bottom, finish them before assembling.

  1. Install the bottom shelf trim pieces, using glue and 1 inch finishing nails.  Pre-drill for nails into hardwood.
  2. Cut to size and install the two back trim pieces using 1 inch nails and glue.  Nail the strips at the shelf locations.
  3. Install the triangular prow piece and dowel using glue and 1 ¼” finishing nails.
  4. Set all finishing nails.  Fill the holes after the wood has been sealed.
  5. Sand and finish the shelf unit, to fit your room décor.

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