Build a Basic Case of Shelves
By Matt Weber
Here’s a look at a basic case of shelves built with pocket-hole joinery.
I ‘m a big movie fan. I like action movies, monster movies, thrillers, comedies, dramas, westerns, you name it, and I’ve been collecting them since I was a kid. Over the years I managed to accrue a considerable pile of VHS tapes, and wouldn’t you know it—now DVDs are the hot new thing, and VHS tapes are going the way of the dodo. So after all those years spent collecting movies, I’m now replacing the clunky old tapes with the new digital disc format. All of this movie fandom means that I’ve got a lot of movies but not a lot of places to put them. So I decided to build a case of shelves to house my movie collection.
While the shelf case in this article is designed specifically for DVDs, you can alter the dimensions and basic design to suit whatever stuff you want it to hold. The whole thing is constructed from No.1 select pine and a plywood back. The shelves are joined with pocket holes and self-tapping screws—a fast and strong way to join finish carpentry (more on that later). Here’s how I took it from a stack of boards to the final product.
3/8” Pine-veneered plywood “One Good Side,” 4′ X 8′, 1 pc.
4-foot, 1” X 8” No. 1 Select Pine, 8 pcs.
8-foot, 1” X 8” No. 1 Select Pine, 2 pcs.
4-foot, 1” X 10” No. 1 Select Pine, 3 pcs.
Building the Carcass
The shelf case is designed to be taller than I am—more than 6 feet—so I built it outdoors to have plenty of room to handle its size. I set up a couple of sturdy sawhorses saddled with a couple of sheets of plywood to serve as an outdoor work table.
The first cuts I made were with a circular saw, rough-cutting the 1-by-8 sides and shelves. When rough-cutting the stock, take the opportunity to trim away any damage the wood may have suffered at the supplier. Carefully inspect the boards; even low-defect pine will have some dents and nicks, and you can often keep the best section of wood and treat the damaged areas as waste stock.
I then finish-cut each board on my table saw to ensure a more accurate cut. I ripped the edges of the sides just to remove a little edge damage, cutting the 1-by-8 stock to 7-1/8 inches wide, and I cross-cut both 8-foot boards down to 72-1/2 inches. I then used a router to cut a 3/8-inch-deep rabbet in the backs of the side boards—the rabbets are to provide a snug place to hold the plywood backing.