Make a (Book) Case for Yourself

I like how Terry can give me a short set of instructions in the morning and keep me busy all day. It speaks to his teaching skill that he can convey so much information in so few words, and it confirms that I’ve learned volumes about carpentry. That’s exactly what happened yesterday, when Terry assigned me to frame out the built-in bookcases.

This boxout gets a fireplace on one side and built-in bookcases on the other three.

This boxout gets a fireplace on one side and built-in bookcases on the other three.

For the first time in months, I resumed the primal tasks of rough framing: make measurements, cut lumber with the chop saw, assemble pieces with the nail gun. Treading on familiar ground, except with one BIG difference from before… now I’m working in a finished interior. The living room and hallway have finish floors and painted walls, and any impact from a tool or piece of lumber is guaranteed to leave a mark. So I transported lumber very carefully, and while working with the nail gun I propped up my assembly on shims plus a layer of packing paper to protect the floor. My one oversight was the ceiling – Mr. Nail Gun left a few black streaks there on recoil – but Terry came to my rescue and spackled over the offending spots.

Ceiling spackled and primed. One coat of paint and you'll never see the marks I left.

Ceiling spackled and primed. One coat of paint and you’ll never see the marks I left.

The bookcases will run floor-to-ceiling around three sides of the hearth boxout, with 1x trim around the edges. I built my frames to provide support around each bookcase’s perimeter, as defined by the trim dimensions. Essentially, that amounted to building stud walls with enormous rough openings… so I used a double 2×4 for the headers, and I installed top and bottom cripples 16 inches on center. As usual, I made a few mistakes, but I knew how to fix them. No need to bother Terry.

Because Terry had an indoor project of his own: cutting and installing the stair aprons. These 1x12s slide in neatly on either side of the stair treads, trimming out the stairways in the same way baseboard trims out a floor. He carefully cut the apron angles to match the stair pitch, which seemed like a pain.

Nice to have an indoor interlude from the interminable exterior… but with the bookcase framing and stair aprons complete, now we’re back to siding.

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