How to Build Curved Bookcases

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Adding a bookcase to your home office, living room or den can help reduce clutter in your home by providing a place to efficiently store books and decorative objects. It can also serve as a visually pleasing accent to your home. Although bookshelves are typically rectangular, you can opt for a curved bookcase to increase visual interest. Building a curved bookcase is a more involved process than building a linear bookcase; however, the added aesthetic value can be worth the extra effort.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Graph paper
  • Cardboard
  • Ultility knife
  • Ruler
  • Metal straightedge
  • 1-inch-thick pine or hardwood
  • Bandsaw
  • Table saw
  • 2-inch wood screws
  • Drill
  • Screw bit
  • Carpenter's level
  • 1/4-inch-thick plywood
  • Wood putty
  • 1/2-inch putty knife
  • Palm sander
  • Paint
  • Wood stain
  • Measure the available space to determine the size of the curved bookcase. Sketch the bookcase on graph paper and use a scale of one square for every 6 inches to obtain a visual reference to use while cutting and building.

  • Draw the curve of the front of the bookcase on a large sheet of cardboard or thick paper. Draw a second curve for the back of the bookcase. Check the distance between the curves with a ruler to make sure the depth of the bookcase will be consistent along its width -- most bookshelves are at least 12 inches deep.

  • Cut the cardboard or thick paper along the curves with a utility knife to form a template for marking and cutting the bottom plate, top plate and shelves. Transfer the width of the bookcase to the template and cut straight lines with a metal straightedge as a guide, from front to back on each side to finish the template.

  • Place the template on top of a 1-inch-thick section of pine or hardwood large enough to accommodate the entire template. Draw along the curves then remove the template and cut along the curves with a bandsaw to form the bottom plate. Repeat this process with additional sections of pine or hardwood to form the top plate and shelves of the bookcase.

  • Measure and mark two sections of 1-inch-thick pine or hardwood to the height and depth of the bookcase. Cut these sections to size with a table saw to form the sides of the bookcase.

  • Place the bottom plate on the floor and stand one of the sides at each end. Insert 2-inch wood screws through the sides into the ends of the bottom plate at 2-inch intervals with a drill and a screw bit.

  • Ask a helper to hold the top plate between the sides and flush with the top edges of the sides. Insert and tighten 2-inch wood screws through the sides into the ends of the top plate at 2-inch intervals. Repeat this process with the shelves and check each shelf with a carpenter's level to ensure it is level.

  • Measure the width of the bookcase along the back edge. Transfer this measurement and the height measurement to a 4-by-8 foot sheet of 1/4-inch-thick plywood. Cut the plywood sheet to size with the table saw.

  • Place the plywood sheet on the back of the bookcase and align the edges. Insert and tighten 2-inch wood screws through the plywood into the bookcase at 2-inch intervals along the perimeter.

  • Fill in the visible screw heads with wood putty and a 1/2-inch putty knife. Sand the surfaces with a palm sander then stain or paint the wood to give the bookcase a finished look.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid using plywood for the shelves and plates. Solid wood provides additional strength, which helps support the weight of books and decorative objects.
  • Wear work gloves and protective eyewear, while cutting and assembling the curved bookcase, to reduce injuries.
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