Building Sunroom Window Bookcases Part 1

We’ve finished the main windows in the sunroom – all but the two that will have bookcases that will wrap around on all sides. I’ve been putting off building these because? All together now – I have no plan. Just like everything else it’s just freestyle design, so let’s start cutting some wood and see what happens.

1 bookcase startI built 2X4 bases for each side and cut the outside pieces of the bookcase carcass. I used 3/4″ Maple faced plywood for the boxes. This is B-2 grade – a lesser quality than true cabinet plywood – this has a micro-thin layer of maple – but they will be painted and cost the same as birch faced plywood so I went with these at 50.00 per sheet – cabinet grade is about 80.00 per sheet in my area. It takes 5 sheets for this project.

2 window caseEverything is cut and test fitted – no nails or glue yet. Each side is slightly different, so measurements must be taken individually.

3 rounting jigA little more about routing jigs. The best work table for me has always been a single sheet of plywood. You can screw your jigs and stops right to the sheet to make things go quickly and get repeatable results. Above you see the setup for routing bookcase sides. The cross piece is the straightedge for the router base to ride against. The right piece of wood is at a 90 degree angle to the straightedge. The left piece is spaced with a slight gap so that the piece to be routed can slide easily into the jig. It is attached with a single screw into the plywood table to make a pivot. Slide the piece in and clamp against the right hand wood – you have a 90 degree straightedge.

4 routing jig detailTo repeat the routed joints on all bookcase sides you can set the first one and then screw a stop onto the plywood. Now you can repeat this on each piece so that you have perfectly aligned shelves and dividers.

5 case testMore unglued test fits. Not only to test to make sure it fits, but to make sure it doesn’t look too goofy.

6 figuresI’m going through these yellow note pads pretty quickly as I try and figure this thing out. Time for a new pad.

7 tv baseThis might look like a modernist coffee table top or some other artsy doodad – but actually this is the product of all that yellow pad doodling.

8 tv base instal And here’s what that thing is for. The problem is that this area also has to have a cold air return and a cabinet for a TV lift. The duct work for the HVAC had to be out from the wall. The return air will be routed up behind the cabinet and the intakes will be on the top of the central cabinet. Complicated, no?      Yes.

9 routed sidesNow that we know what is what, we can assemble the bookcase boxes – after they are sanded smooth.

10 tv backThe TV lift will be bolted to this panel – it is recessed to allow the 55″ TV to drop all the way to the subfloor, allowing the cabinet to be 36″ tall. The cold air return will run behind this area.

11 bookcase testThe window bookcases are now built as individual boxes, but not fastened together yet. You can see the shelves are aligned with the window mullions to keep the visual plane unbroken. Another anal detail from yours truly.

12 paintingNow the cases are taken down and painting interiors begin. I would usually pre-paint the sheet of plywood before fabricating, but the routed joint is so tight that just the paint thickness would cause problems in joining the pieces together. Also, some of the plywood sheets varied in thickness, so some of the routed joints were too tight and had to be slightly widened.

Hang in there – we’ll get some books on these shelves eventually.

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8 thoughts on “Building Sunroom Window Bookcases Part 1

  1. Wow! Seriously impressed with your ability to solve, conquer, and make it amazing. I can almost see it finished! Love the bookcases!

    • Thanks so much! Well, I’m glad to know someone can see it finished 🙂 I keep changing my mind – we’ll see where it goes.

  2. I like the design of the bookcases, how you are able to continue the window lines across each of the cases. I’m assuming shelves are going to do the same below the windows: a series of squares to match the rest of the case. (I can see router lines down below).

    I like how you kind of design as you go. While I’m not sure I could do that for interior trim, I definitely do it for outdoor projects – something about grabbing wood I have laying around and making something out of it. I don’t do it a lot but on occasion, such as our bee hive stands for example.

    Anyway, it’s looking good.

    • Hi Chris – thanks for commenting. The new post shows the bottom bookcases. I’m with you on the grab and go technique. I don’t think I do very well when I try to design something on paper – it’s just easier to put something up an see if it looks right. of course, that can cause a lot of do overs – but that’s OK with me. Your place is looking great.

    • Hi D’Arcy! Thanks so much! It is a light filled room, that’s for sure. I’ll be glad when I can sit down and read a book – a remodeling book, no doubt.

  3. This is very impressive. I love windows and doors ‘framed’ by bookshelves. What I’d like to know is do you actually have another job or do you do this full-time? Very much looking forward to see the finished room. Interested to see the window ‘treatments’. Drapes? Shutters?

    • Thanks so much! Ha, ha – I do have a full time job 🙂 I own an art gallery/fine craft store here and do design work for a large corporation. I work 8 hours at the gallery and the remainder and the Adventures location. The windows in the house will probably be cellular shades that open from both the bottom or top. I think they will fit in the casement openings with little loss of the view – I think.

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