Spring 2022 One Room Challenge: Week 5

Well friends, we’re in week 5 of the One Room Challenge by Apartment Therapy. I’ve seen some amazing transformations taking place from wallpaper & accent walls, to brand new tile, hand built tables, you name it. Check out the One Room Challenge Blog to see all of this amazing work by other participants.

Week 5 for me brings the start of building my own library style built-ins. This project was a huge reason why I wanted to participate in this One Room Challenge anyway. When I think about my favorite style of building, woodworking is always it.

These are essentially bookshelves stacked on top of the coffee bar. Carefully measured and planned to be built exactly for the space, and slide right into place…or so I thought.

The space above the coffee bar originally had a floating shelf which goes down in history as my least favorite thing I’ve ever built. This little cubby is particularly unleveled and wonky making it nearly impossible to build anything onto the wall. Wanting more storage anyway, I got this great idea to build a large section of shelving and give it the built-in look, without it fully being built-in (it will attach to the wall for safety like a bookshelf, but that’s about it).

I started by turning my dining room table into a drafting table, and carefully marking all of my measurements on graph paper, using colorful markers and noting carefully what obstacles I’d have to work around. There’s the thermostat and a humidifier control, and the doorbell box on this wall. Drafting everything out allowed me to figure out the exact cuts I would need to make, and I narrowed it down to pieces A, B, & C to cut out of the 4×8 plywood sheets.

I decided to cut my plywood down with a circular saw because plywood this large is hard for me to handle through the table saw, and safety is always a priority. I can cut freehand pretty straight with a circular saw, but I didn’t really have room for error, so I clamped a guide board to make sure each cut was perfect.

Once I had all my pieces cut, it came time to cut dados. Dado joints are a way to join wood together that is very strong and commonly used in cabinetry and shelving. You cut or route a channel about through one piece of wood against the grain. The channel should be about half the depth of the wood. Another board fits snug into this channel.

I used my palm router to cut these dados again to have better control of the material. 8 boards each needed 3 dados, and each dado took 2 passes with the router to get the thickness I wanted, so for those of you doing the math, that’s 48 passes with the router. I clamped a guide board for each pass with the router as well. This was quite time consuming, but definitely worth it.

After that, I glued the shelf boards into the dado channels and glued three of the shelves together. At this point, I decided to dry fit the shelves into the space. The shelves are great and level, but because the walls around them are not, my fourth column is going to be much smaller than I had planned. I’m also going to have to do some trimming to get the shelves to look built-in and draw your eye away from the warped wall, but that’s for next week.

Published by Bonitabyrachel

I'm Rachel! An avid DIYer, crafter, & maker. I love diving in and trying new things. I live in Indiana with my husband Dylan & our sweet dog Hoss. When I'm not building, you can find me caring for my plants, cooking a yummy meal, or painting some watercolors. Thanks for joining my DIY journey!

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