The Backing and Basework

The first step in assembly was to put up the backing. We decided on quarter inch plywood and to make things more straight forward, I went ahead and pulled the carpet out and ran the plywood from the concrete to the top of where the shelves would be. I had to cut holes for the electrical plugs but with the jigsaw, that wasn’t a problem at all. If you look at the close up view (click on the picture) you’ll notice that the panels are rather evident and don’t match up very well. This would have been a problem had we decided to stain the entire bookshelves. However, we soon came to the conclusion that staining plywood was just beyond our capabilities.

Not to mention that there were a number of knot holes in the plywood that had been “fixed” using some sort of compound which wouldn’t hold stain to save it’s life. Thus we decided to paint the cabinets white and stain just the shelves. This also meant that we could use wood filler to close the horizontal gaps in the plywood and cover the vertical gaps with the pillars (since I cut the plywood so that the edges would be out of site).

It was at this point where I hit the first speed bump. I’m not sure when it happened but sometime after I had bought the lumber and before I installed it, the boards warped. Not a lot, mind you, but enough that it threw off my precise measurements. A sixteenth of an inch here, an eighth of an inch there, it all adds up. Also, I didn’t account for the fact that it’s been forever since I’ve swung a hammer except for nailing a picture up or a cable down.

This meant that even though I had cut the boards to the correct length, they didn’t fit when I put them in the room. Fortunately for me, they were too long rather than too short. This just meant that I needed to trim some boards here and there.

To combat the hammer problem the wife suggested that I rent a cordless nail gun. Oh, and I’d like to take this opportunity to proclaim far and wide that I love my wife. There is nothing more fantastic than having a tomboy as a wife, let me tell ya.

It took all of two days to build the framework thanks to that cordless nail gun. Admittedly, though, renting one for two days was almost as expensive as buying a pneumatic gun outright. I’m pretty sure that had we a compressor, I would have opted for buying the nail gun just so I could use it for other projects.

It was about this time in the build, though, that I hit the stage of the game where you vow that you will never ever do this again. The nail gun would sometimes leave the nail not totally embedded in the board, or it would split the smaller boards (like the ones on the end that needed to be nailed in at a 22.5 degree angle). Not to mention that if you’ve never fired a nail gun before (and believe me, I mean “fired”), it’s a bit unsettling. I always had the thought in the back of my head that I’d end up with a nail through my hand or foot. I guess that’s why I never did. Fear can be a powerful focusing agent.

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