Edging is commonly available as a roll of thin veneer.  It's applied with the heat of a clothes iron melting the adhesive on its back. I don't think it can be durable, so prefer to instead use strips of hardwood cut on the table saw. 

For this project, I found a piece of red oak in the workshop from which I cut repeated 1/8" strips.

If you go this route, be aware a lot of pieces of edging will be needed. 

Consider that:

bulleteach bookcase has 2 sides
bulleteach side has 4 edges
bulletwe're building 2 bookcases, so there are 4 side pieces
bullet4 side pieces times 4 edges each = 16 strips of edging
bulletand each bookcase has 4 shelves
bulletwith each shelf having 4 edges
bulletwe're building 2 bookcases, so there are 8 shelves
bullet8 shelves times 4 edges = 32 strips of edging

That's 16 + 32 = 48 strips of edging. Actually less, as some of the strips can provide edging for two short sides, but you can see the need for ensuring you have plenty of edging on hand.

In fact, edging takes as much time as any part of the project. They need to be: 

bulletmeasured and cut to fit perfectly in the corners, 
bullettrimmed (I used a constantly resharpened chisel), 
bulletand sanded flush with the plywood they're protecting.

Note that the top and bottom shelves are fixed in place and might not need to have their short ends edged. I decided to do it anyway, even with most of the edging hidden inside a dado [groove], for two reasons:

bulletsmall pieces of edging fitted onto the shelf extending past the side piece probably wouldn't hold well, or would have unsightly gaps,
bulletand dowels going through the side piece into the shelf will enter a stronger surface if the shelf ends are edged with hardwood.

After all the pieces are cut, first edge only the side pieces and fixed shelves. stack of bookcase pieces.jpg (78695 bytes)

We can't edge the adjustable shelves because we don't know yet how long they'll be. Their exact length doesn't really matter, as long as their lengths are identical. 

One beauty of this project is that it contains three sets of identical pieces: sides, fixed shelves, and adjustable shelves.

Identical pieces can be stacked and cut together on a table saw to ensure uniform dimensions. (I was pleased afterwards to find that any of my adjustable shelves fit perfectly in either bookcase.)

The project's big picture goes like this:

bulletcut the side pieces and fixed shelves to final size
bulletedge the side pieces and fixed shelves
bulletglue the side pieces and fixed shelves to form the case
bulletglue the back to the case
bulletmeasure the case to determine the size of the adjustable shelves
bulletcut and edge the adjustable shelves

The next pages will show some of the details and peculiarities of this project.

next: dadoes in side pieces

to: Woodworking home page

to: Kohn's Corner