A Bookshelf Revival

I may have alluded in posts past of some bookshelves I have been working on in an effort to transform one of the rooms in the house into a library. Well, I have (finally) completed their transformation. Here is their story of revival.


A dream of mine as a house owner has always been to have a cozy home library. A place that promoted relaxing, curling up in a comfy chair under a warm blanket, and hours of getting lost in a good book. Our house offers up the perfect room for this, but was in need of some essential pieces of a library – bookshelves.

Luckily, around the time we bought the house, the college where D’s dad worked was going through a remodel and was getting rid of some old furniture, most of which were destined for the dump. Among the cast-offs were some old wood bookshelves.

They were nothing too special to look at – a conglomeration of different types of wood with random writing, tape, and stickers that had been slapped onto them over the years at the college.  However, they were wonderfully towering and a perfect price at “$free.99” My soon-to-be father-in-law kindly rescued three of them for me and graciously transported the lanky things to our garage.

Where they sat, nakedly, for many months…


I meant to start work on them right away, because I was so anxious to get the library up and going. But new home ownership is very demanding and time consuming, not to mention trying to plan and execute a wedding and maintain a full time job. I struggled with staying focused on the project, much to D’s exasperation.

However, when I did begin work on them, I started on the shelves themselves. This was a somewhat tedious and repetitive task, because between three bookcases there were about twenty or so shelves to work through. At the beginning, I was still trying to decide if I would be staining or painting the bookcases. As such, I sanded down each shelf three times – course, medium, and fine grains – so to have the best result if staining. In the end, due the each bookcase varying so much in their woods, I decided to paint. I cut out the middle round of sanding when I got the the cases themselves, since I was more concerned about the surfaces feeling smooth than capturing the wood grain.

I got so far as to finish the first bookcase – the tallest, oddball one. It got sanded, painted, coated in a satin polyurethane, and moved into the house. I felt triumphant.

Then… I drifted off the project once again. It was deserted until a few weeks after the wedding. I was feeling more focused at this point and was able to finish the project in what was, perspectively, a more timely manner. For me anyway. I’m sure my husband would beg to disagree…

Again, I put my lifesaver (my Black + Decker Mouse sander) into use and got the last two case sanded down. Then, because the first case had come with trim at the top, I wanted to dress these two up a little as well, so they weren’t just boring rectangles. I chose two relatively simple but distinct wood crown moulding designs from Menard’s, measured them out and layered them to give the case a little more depth. D taught me how to cut the corners into 45 degree angles so the trim would flow together around the case. Cutting them was a little tricky because the trim is pretty thin and curvy in design, and we didn’t have the best choice of saws for the job. But we got it accomplished. This was the only part of the project I let D help me with. I was insistent on doing this on my own.


I nailed the moulding in on the sides, but used wood glue to hold in on the front, to reduce the appearance of nails. I let it sit overnight to make sure it held before moving the case around to paint.


Due to the difficulty in cutting exact 45s  with the saw on the moulding, I was getting some gaps in the corners where the moulding was supposed to meet. To rectify this, I filled in these spaces with this wood filler. It was super easy to use, was able to be sanded to touch up, and once I got the paint on, could hardly tell that there had been an issue in the first place. It’s essentially like spackle for wood. Love it.


About halfway through painting, the weather got much colder. Even with the propane heater in the garage, fingers are of no use in a project like this if they are numb. Plus, I was starting to have some issues with the paint because of the low temperatures, which is apparently a cardinal rule of painting, to not use it below a certain degree.

The unfinished things got moved into the library itself to finish up, which I was able to do in an evening. It’s not the best idea to apply polyurethane in a small room when it’s too cold out to open the windows. It stunk up the house horribly, and was probably not a good thing to be breathing in… However, everything dried much faster indoors, and I didn’t even get any paint on the floors or walls. A huge victory for my clumsiness.

Mission accomplished!



It’s a very rewarding process to make something new again, even if it doesn’t always proceed in the timeliness of manners. All said and done, in just having to purchase the the paint, moulding, and polyurethane, I am able to have three huge bookshelves for about $80 – $90. Not only is it much cheaper than if we had bought three from a store, these are uniquely ours, like our dinner table we refinished and our bed frame we built. Hopefully we continue to surround ourselves in this manner.

Nothing beats handmade and homemade or just a little tender loving care!


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