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Book Case 011

In Part 1 I described building our new bookcase up to the point of making the Pilasters.  Now I’ll admit until I started doing these DIY projects with my wife I couldn’t have told you the difference between Pilaster and a Pediment but they’re something she’s been asking me if I could make right from the beginning.

So the thing is I’ve been putting off trying to make them for quite some time. If you search for Making Pilasters you get lots of great advice but which also involves lots of fancy woodworking tools I just don’t have access to. However, I thought that in theory I  could use the router with an edge guard and a u-shaped blade to cut the grooves for a Pilaster. However, it was the thought of cutting 15 perfectly parallel grooves totalling 30m (100ft) without a wobble that was putting me off.

I began with 95×20 (3 1/2 x 3/4) rough sawn timber. I would have like to have started with planed timber as this would have saved me quite some time down the line but they didn’t have any in suitable sizes at the timber yard. The wood came in 3m (10ft) lengths so I got to drive home with 1.5m of wood sticking out of the back of my trunk, again, desperately hoping the Mr Magoo look alike approaching from behind can see the plastic bag I was using as a flag and not crash straight into it. You have to question the sanity of a keen DIYer who buys a Coupe instead of an SUV.

I built a jig by placing an old cupboard side on top of my two Black and Decker work benches then attached batons to keep my Pilaster securely in place and added a end-stop to either end. After practising on some off-cuts, I set the side guard to the centre of the Pilaster and made my first grove. I then did same cut on the other four Pilasters before adjusting for the left cut on all five then the right cut. I then used an orbital power sander working my way down from P60 to P180 to get a nice smooth finish.

Simple eh? Well sure except those 103 words took me almost the whole of a Sunday to complete and if you watch the gif closely you’ll see it started to become thirsty work. The router really wanted to follow the grain of the wood especially close to any knots which them selves are much harder wood so want to send the router around them. You can see in the gif I really had to put my full weight on to both keeping the router flat and tight against the edge.


Was it worth it? Sure was. Would I do it differently next time? Sure would. Firstly I would use MDF instead of real would as I think it’d be much easier to work with without a grain and wouldn’t need two hours of sanding. I’d also make sure I had two edge guards not just one.

Updates 028Then I screwed the finished Pilasters to the BILLY shelves ensuring the screws would be hidden behind the Appliqués I’d be using top and bottom of each.

Shabby 007 Next I used a moulding to create Capitals on top of each of the Pilasters and then used a dado rail with a Greek Key motif to produce an Entablature across the top. I then used a small Coving to create the cornice on the top I’ve described the process for doing this previously here. This effectively hide the bottoms of the BILLY shelves which you may recall I’d placed upside down onto of the FAKTUM units. As a bonus if classical architecture elements come up on a pub quiz any time soon I reckon I’ll have the points in the bag!

Shabby 001Once the rest of the shelves were in position I dressed the front of all 29 of them with a decorative moulding. I created the illusion of panel doors using a piece of hard board in the centre surrounded by a moulding as I described here previously. It wasn’t a complicated job but with ten doors it was time consuming.

Updates 030The final piece of woodwork was to add a Plinth to the base of the unit and learning from my mistake on the bedroom cupboard I did this after I’d hung the doors!

Shabby 005With the woodwork finished the next step was to begin the painting. First step was to apply two coats of a tough oil based primer. The oil based primers are not as convenient, and have a much stronger smell, but adhere much better to the melamine interior of the bookcase. My wife had the fantastic idea of getting them to add the same pigment to the primer as we’d be using on the top coat.

Shabby 002 (2)Once the top coat had dried I glued on appliqués painted in antique gold to the top and bottom of each Pilaster.

Finally I added the small lamps to either side concealing the switches and cables behind each Pilaster and plugging them in to the cable I’d run to the top of the bookcase as described in part one.

Book Case 005

The bookcase isn’t actually quite finished as I don’t have handles yet for the doors and we’d like to add a picture frame light above the print in the centre but then things are never quite finished around here. I always think of our home as being like the Forth Bridge in Scotland which is famous because despite being completed in 1890 they still haven’t finished painting it. This is because by the time they get to one end it’s time to start back at the beginning. We’re a little bit the same and I’ll soon be revisiting our kitchen which I refitted as my major project last summer as it now apparently needs a few tweaks! At least it’ll give me something to blog about…

Thanks for reading the shabby side of chic.