Shelves to Match!

Project Type: Build a cleat and shelving system, to match existing bookcase on opposite side of fireplace

Project Cost: $1,008.15

This client in North Raleigh had a bookcase shelving unit on one side of her fireplace, with an empty spot on the other. She wanted us to build a matching built-in on the empty side. But, upon closer inspection, the existing bookcase on the other side wasn’t a built-in at all; the previous owner of the condo either had these shelves built and installed, or did it themselves. And truthfully, it sort of looked to us like a DIY project of the former occupants.

We suggested a matching build, with shelves attached to the wall with a cleat system, which would be a whole lot cheaper than a built-in unit, and we could finish it in a day, building and installing onsite.

So we secured a materials deposit beforehand and ordered the materials, picking them up the day of the job. Then we built the cleating system, fashioning the cleats out of yellow pine, and the shelves out of birch plywood—which paints up nicely—then capping them with yellow pine as well, to finish out the look. After doing that we added casing/moulding all around the outside edges, to match the bookcase on the other side.

Fairly simple stuff. Or so we thought…the walls were slightly warped (which is somewhat normal; NO room is perfectly plumb and square), so we had to ”scribe” the shelves to the wall (basically making the shelves as slightly off, or out of whack as the walls themselves). It’s hard to explain, but you’re basically matching the shelf to the wall contours, so the shelf itself, when looked at while holding it in your hands, appears to be not perfectly square. Again, matching the contours of the wall and it’s imperfections.

(Kinda’ complicated stuff, but my friend and biz partner, Robert, is a Master Carpenter with over 30 years experience. He’s seen everything in the construction business, and has lots of experience with all kinds of quirks and intricacies of home construction, as well as its occasional, inherent issues. He has scribed many a shelf, built-in or other lumber creations to many a wall.)

So, that’s about it. Not a time-consuming thing; just a day of building and installing onsite. No major issues (other than the need to scribe the shelves to the wall contours), and not much else to report or highlight.

As you can see from the pics, the new shelving unit matches perfectly the opposite side unit. The client said she was “really excited about it” and couldn’t wait to paint them up herself and start utilizing the new shelves.