I get started building this small bookcase, which is a great woodworking project that follows a classic and pretty basic design.  I use Quarter Sawn White Oak for the legs, top and small bead molding at the bottom of the bookcase, and will give that a natural finish.  The rest of the cabinet will be painted white. Here’s Part 1 of the series where I build the base of the cabinet.


The first step is to make the legs using a white oak board.  To get started on the legs, I cut the board in half to make it much easier to handle when pushing it through the jointer and the table saw to shape the legs.  The legs will be milled to 1 3/4″ square.

Once the legs are milled and sanded, I get started on making the face frames for the bookcase. I use Poplar, which is a very nice wood choice for painted projects because it has a nice tight grain, very few knots, and it’s readily available and fairly inexpensive.  I mill all the pieces and use pocket hole joints to join the rails and stiles together to make the shell of the bookcase. I assemble the cabinet frame and attach it to the legs upside down on a clean smooth surface which allows the top of the face frames to be flush with the top of the legs.

Next, I make and install the bead board to the back of the cabinet and the flat panels on the sides of the cabinet.  I then make bead molding from a piece of Poplar using  a Bead Molding router bit to trim out the front of the cabinet.   Once the bead molding is attached to the face frame, I make the shelves.  I swap out the Bead Molding router bit with a Cove router bit to put a slight cove into the cleats that will support the shelves.

I install the shelves and continue to trim out the cabinet with Poplar and MDF and get ready to make, join, and install the Quarter Sawn White Oak top, and prep the cabinet for painting and finishing.

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