Ikea Built-in Bookcase Part 3

Here’s how I finished the built-in bookcase.

First I added a wood panel on the side to box it in, then I added a baseboard.  The scrap block of wood and pieces of tape are there to hold the baseboard while some epoxy dries.

Here’s the finished baseboard.

Then I had to cover the opening at the top. Like the floor, the ceiling is also not level.  There was a 1/2 inch difference in the left to right height of this opening at the top.  I don’t have a table saw, so I had to be careful when I cut the crown molding piece for this area.

Here’s the finished top crown molding.  I also added in some fluted molding on the front to cover the front of the bookcase. Any gaps at the top were covered by that small piece of quarter round molding at the ceiling.

Then I had to cover up any exposed rough surface of the base.

I cut small pieces of wood to cover the base pedestal.  The molding on the front helps to cover any gaps where the pieces of the bookcase meet too.

I ended up cutting the final piece of wood incorrectly.   So I had to drive to the lumber yard to get a new piece of wood.  Then I came home, and cut it wrong again.   That was a sign that I had to stop for the day!

The next day, I drove to the lumber yard again, brought home yet another piece of wood, cut it, and this time I cut it correctly.

Then I had to sand any rough edges, and paint the bookcase to match the white color of the original baseboard, which is also pretty much the same color of the Ikea bookcase.   One coat of white primer, two coats of interior semi-gloss paint.

I’ll show off how I was able to cut the front molding to meet the profile of the existing baseboard molding.

And here’s the finished bookcase, with all of Mr. C’s books loaded up on it.  They had been so crammed into his old bookcase that he wasn’t taking them out.  Now he can see them better and can easily take them down.

This project was number 82 on the list of things to do around the house.  There are a total of 142 things on the list.

Ikea Built-in Bookcase Part 2

See that gap on the bottom of the bookcase base ?  That’s there because the floor is not level in our 112 year old house.

It’s not very noticable, though a marble will roll across the floor if placed at the baseboard.  That gap is about 1/4 inch high, just the right height for Mr. C to loose a lego under.

When he dropped the lego and it skipped under the bookcase, he was very upset.  Will it be stuck under there forever like a time capsule, he wondered.  I didn’t see it happen, so I didn’t know what kind of lego piece it was.  Some of those pieces are very small, some are large, some are important and are needed to complete the lego model, others aren’t that important and a substitute can be found instead.  C said it was an important piece.

First, I tried a standard foot long ruler.  Moving it around, trying to move the lego piece to the edge of the wooden base.  All I was able to do was push it further away, down into the back of the base.  I tried a long pice of paper next.  That didn’t have the stiffness of the ruler to get under the piece.  Again, I just only managed to push it further away.  The dust jacket of a book didn’t work either.  Mr. C went out to the backyard to look for a stick.

I then remembered that I had a much longer ruler, a three foot metal ruler.   After about a half hour of moving that ruler around in the gap, out popped the lego piece.

An important piece.    I’ll have to finish this bookcase soon or there will be a time capsule of small lego pieces under it.

Ikea Built-in Bookcase – Part 1

Something that we have had on our list of home improvement projects for years is for me to make a built-in bookcase.     Our house is more than 100 years old, and it has two built-in bookcases on the first floor, so it would fit in well with the style of the house.  Mr. C also has a growing collection of books, so his room would be the best candidate for adding in a bookcase.  However, I’ve been ignoring this list item since I have very limited carpentry skills, so I thought it would probably never happen.

Then Ms. J came across an article showing how you can take one or several Ikea bookcases and convert them into built-in by making a wooden base, attaching the bookcases to the wall, and then adding wood molding around the top and sides.  Then you paint the wooden base and molding to match the bookcase.    The article made it seem easy.

So we took a trip to the closest Ikea store in Stoughton, Massachusetts, where we looked for the bookcase mentioned in the article.  All Ikea products have a name, sometimes it is vaguely Scandinavian, sometimes not.  Some of the names for their bookcases include; Finny, Gnedby, Hemnes, and Klimpen.  The bookcase style we needed is named ‘Billy’.  The ‘Billy’ comes in several sizes, horizontal, vertical, tall, short.  To fit in the space we had in mind, we needed three Billy bookcases that were each about six feet tall, and fourteen inches wide.  For the low price of just $50 each, we found the ones we needed.

Once we left the store, we had to figure out how to get the three long flat boxes that were more than six feet long into the car.  We spent about a half hour in the parking lot, trying to get them into the back of the car. Finally figuring out that if we placed them at one specific angle, with the backseat pulled down, they would just fit in, with the top of the box just about touching the dashboard, and the bottom of the box touching the back of the wagon’s rear hatch.  Yes, I’m too cheap to pay for the delivery.

Putting together a piece of Ikea furniture is a great test of any relationship, with all of its hardware pieces and instructions written with as few words as possible so they can use the same instruction sheet in several countries.   There’s a game show here in the US that sends couples around the world on a scavenger hunt, ‘The Amazing Race’.  One year they had the couples go to Sweden and put together a piece of Ikea furniture, whichever couple did it fastest won that leg of the race. The couples either finished quickly, or ended up arguing.   I have very limited spatial abilities, so I always anticipate problems with things like this.  In High School there are standard test questions that illustrate some kind of multi sided box, the question is what would the box look like if it were turned upside down or sideways.  I always got those questions wrong.    However, these bookcases weren’t so hard to construct,  except for me at first putting in one of the shelves upside down, it did turn out to be fairly easy.

Here’s the area where we want to put the built-in:

The first thing I had to do was build a base for the shelves.  Measuring the height of the baseboard, and where the bookcase is supposed to fit onto the baseboard, I used some 2X6 lumber to make a base.

Here’s what it looks like from above.  It’s probably stronger than it needs to be with those pieces of wood added into the middle of the box.

Here’s the three completed bookcases placed on top of the base.


They really do need to be bolted into the wall, they’re not very stable sitting on their own.  The instructions try to make sure that you know what you’re getting into with these bookcases.  Ikea pretty much tells you that if you want a freestanding bookcase try one of the other styles since this one is supposed to be bolted on the wall.

Something I figured out is that since the house is so old, there’s a substantial slope to the floor.  In just under a foot, there’s about a 1/4 inch slope from level, so I had to add small blocks to the bottom of the base to make it level.  Also, see that vertical pencil mark ?  That’s where I almost cut that piece of wood, which would have been a big mistake.


This is just the start of this project, I’ll have to add another post later.