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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Bookcase Chronicles, Part 1

I'm going to build some bookcases. No, really. I bet you didn't know i was a woodworker. That's because I'M NOT. So, you must be thinking, "how in the world are you going to build bookcases if you're not a woodworker?" I'm going to learn woodworking. Now, you must be thinking, "Are you insane, Cynthia?"


I have a lot of books. You know how many barrels of oil BP has spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in the last month? That's how many books I have. Right now I have 15,000 pounds of my stuff in the garage. I moved here to the Vancouver area from Calgary last October, and knowing that I was going to move again this year, I decided to unpack a bare minimum and leave everything else packed for the next move. Flabio isn't aware that that 90% of that tonnage is books. Okay, I exaggerate. It's only 85%.

I read a lot on every subject, and I was an English major in university. Books are one of my passions. I rarely get rid of any books. For most of my adult life I had a bunch of IKEA bookcases, which are pretty good. Around 2002 I had custom bookcases built in my last house that cost about as much as BP is going to have to pay to clean up their mess. The bookcases were along one 15' wall, were about 15' high, and I had one of those Putnam Rolling Ladders, like they have in libraries. Those bookcases were beautiful but not terribly well made, and after 5 years, one by one, the shelves started collapsing.

In the next house we're moving to, I'm going to fill a whole living room with wall-to-wall books. Since Flabio is not keen on me decorating the living room with brown moving boxes, new bookcases are in order. I suggested buying all matching IKEA bookcases which I estimate would cost about $4000, but Flabio hates IKEA. HATES IKEA. Kind of like how I hate BP. I didn't bother to suggest custom bookcases, because those could be any amount of money *starting* at $7500. "Okay, fine," I told Flabio, "I'll make them."

I don't think this is going to be easy, especially the part about making them well, but I didn't tell Flabio that. Flabio is no idiot. His career has been as a commercial contractor, and he has some doubts about what these bookcases are going to look like. He would prefer if I ditched all of my books. But I tell him with a big smile, "no worries, honey, a monkey with some good light could do it." In fact, I barely know the difference between a hammer and a wrench.

So I bought a couple of books on woodworking, and subscribed to a woodworking discussion forum. That forum is great, by the way, and everyone is warm and helpful, and not at all put off by idiotic beginner questions. Now that I've done most of my homework, I estimate that I can build 13, 30" wide X 84" tall bookcases for about $1200 in modest materials and about $1000 in tools, and 75,000 hours of me working on them. That's reasonable, don't you think? If I work on them 8 hours per day, 6 days per week, I estimate that I can finish them in 30 years. By the time I finish these 13 living room bookcases, I will need at least 25 more bookcases, so basically I will be building bookcases for the rest of my life.

I'll keep everyone updated on my progress. Wish me luck. I have to go study my Trim Carpentry book. Anyone know what a open spline is?

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  • Ahh well, now I know why I give my books away when I'm done with them. I have kept a few, but nobody wanted to read my Anatomy and Physiology books anyway. Every once in awhile I like to find out which muscle is bothering me. After you start your building project you may want to borrow my books :) Hugs! Karen (Mitzchi) Ranzenbach

    By Blogger K/R, At June 27, 2010 at 1:39 PM  

  • Good luck! Love your sense of humor :)

    By Blogger Dave, At August 12, 2010 at 3:39 PM  

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