A few years back my girlfriend, now wife, and I were walking through the local Pier 1 Imports store and she noticed a large three-shelf bookcase with sliding panels. She let me know how much she like the piece and we took a closer look. Upon inspection of the price tag we both picked up our bottom jaws off the floor and hurried away. The piece was actually three separate modular pieces that were stacked on top of one another. In fact, it seemed strange that these particular items would be sold as a modular system as I could not envision purchasing a single one for use in a home without its counterparts. Regardless, we were not in a position to spend $300 for each modular piece to acquire a large bookcase we didn’t have any room for anyway.
So, I took snapped a quick picture of the bookcase with my phone and simply shrugged it off with my signature, “I could build that.” As my wife’s birthday approached that year and I was searching for gift inspiration I was scrolling through the photos on my phone for any ideas I may have forgotten. As I passed by the photo of the modular bookcase I realized it was time to make good on my, so far, empty promises of “building that.” I did some research, found the online photos for more detail, scaled the design down to a 9″ x 9″ module box, and descended into the depths of my Dad’s workshop.
Now, don’t be deceived by the term “workshop,” my Dad is very resourceful and has converted the basement of our antique house into quite a functional work space for a variety of uses. The walls and floors are all dirt and stone. The floor joists overhead are only about six and a half feet from the uneven floor and are still riddled with the charred remnants of the original floorboards that survived the house fire. The light is spotty at best and much care must be taken to finding the correct location to work on intricate projects. The tools are almost exclusively older than me, and many were milled before my Dad was born. In short, a fantastic place to tinker and experiment!
Some of the complications I encountered were combated with help from my Dad and very creative tool re-purposing. But the shelf was built, stained, painted, and put together. The final product was a few months late for her birthday, with some minor interruptions in the construction process by Collage classes picking back up. But the piece was a success and is still proudly displayed in our living room, filled to capacity with books and DVD’s.
I love viewing an object and mentally trying to dissemble it to see how it works. What makes it stand up or function so well. When I was younger I would take apart old VCR’s and dissect all the components inside. How things work has always fascinated me and I love looking at a piece of furniture and being able to confidently exclaim, much to the exasperation of my wife, that “I could build that!”