DIY Industrial Bookshelves (Part 1)

Hi Wonders,

I decided to change my audience name, because I honestly have not been traveling lately. Who is really? What I have been doing is a lot of DIY. So I chose Wonders- not Wandere- for all those curious folks. If you wonder about travel, there is something for you here. If you wonder about home projects, you can look here too.

Recently, I put in so much time and effort into building a 10 ft x 3.5 ft industrial bookshelf from scratch. Our ceilings are tall, so Mr. Lumberjack and I wanted something that will reach the top. Also, we wanted quality wood. We aren’t looking for particle boards that will warp over time. These bookshelves are a part of this home; It’s permanent now.

I’m going to write the How-To in two parts to make this post more manageable to read. The first part is prepping the shelves, staining and sealing the wood. Afterwards, I’ll write a post about the assembly and any tips that will help you along the way.

To start, you’re going to buy some wood. Mr. Lumberjack and I are interested in wood with a lot of character. We found a local lumber yard with a lot of reclaim wood, Great Lakes Yard. You should go in with a general idea of how many shelves you want, the measurements, the look of your wood. For our condo, we wanted 12 shelves. We also wanted 12 inches deep shelves because our fireplace stick out, so a balanced look is ideal. In terms of planed wood, we were just looking for anything that was around 12 inches.

At Great Lakes Yard, it offers a wood cutting service. We went this route because we don’t own a rotating saw and didn’t bother searching for one. This is an additional service, so you’ll have to pay for it. This place also offers plane services, if you want a smoother, clean look. You’ll have to pay extra for that too. The owner is extremely helpful, so ask her anything you would like.

Afterwards, you need an orbital sander and the following grit sandpaper:

Use the 80 grit on the large flat panels on the wood, and make sure to apply even pressure. Then, wipe the dust off the board. You’re going to do this for after every sanding activity. Then, switch to either a 120 or 150 Grit for the large flat panels again. Wipe. Afterwards, take a 220 Grit and sand all 4 sides of the board. Wipe.

I’m going to interject here with a step that we did not do, but wish we had. So Mr. Lumberjack and I originally chose a different pipe design for the shelf assembly. However, when we added up all the costs, it was so much. We decided to do another method, which was to drill holes into the wood. At that point, we had already stained and sealed the wood. When we drilled the holes, the wood splintered on the other side.

Therefore, if you are looking to drill holes through the wood, now would be the time to do it. We organized the woods the way we wanted on the wall. This means choosing which side will face up and which side will face the wall, etc. Once you decide the front, mark a tiny X 2 inches from the left corner and 2 inches up. Basically you want the center of the hole to be 2×2 inches from the corner. Repeat on the right side front corner too.

We used a 1.5″ Foster bit. Make sure the wood is stable and immovable. Stand the drill perpendicular to the board. We don’t want any crooked holes. Start slowly to break the surface and start increasing the speed until the center peaks out on the other side. At this point, we flipped the board over, lined up the center and slowly work the other side. You may have minor splinters or chips. If you don’t mind, then keep as is. If you do, then buy some wood glue for the larger chips.

On top of that, if you are using reclaimed wood from various places, the wood width will not be the same. The holes are for the pipes to go straight down to the floor. Therefore, you cannot measure 2×2 inches from the front corners or else the holes won’t line up with one another.

Instead, you drill the holes for the first shelf. Then, you take the second shelf, lay it down. Take the first shelf with the holes and lay it on top of the second shelf. You need to make sure the back parts of the shelf are flush, because they will go against the flat wall. Put your Foster bit through the holes and spin to mark the surface of the second shelf. Remove the first shelf and then continue drilling the holes in the second shelf.

Next is staining. We bought wood conditioner to prep the wood and avoid blotchiness. Mr. Lumberjack and I used this brand, Varathane. We needed 1 quart can for 12 shelves. Follow the instructions on the can. Allow for ample time to dry. Trust the process, do not rush. Once everything was dry, we stained the wood. It took awhile to choose a good color, but we ended up with Traditional Cherry. We needed 1 quart can for 12 shelves.

Almost there… I was tired of this wood prepping and wanted it to be over. But it’s part of quality work. Patience. It’ll look nice- better than nice actually. Spectacular. So give it time. I used the interior polyurethane with a clear gloss finish. We needed 2 1-quart cans for 12 shelves. Follow the instructions. You’ll need to do two coats. After each coat, take the 320 Grit sandpaper and apply a light even pressure with the grain of the wood. Wipe away the dust with a damp cloth.

Your wood is ready. Wait for Part 2 on how we assembled the shelf.



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