matthew manning


Rebecca and I moved in together June of 2007. We both have tons of physical media (books, magazines, CDs, records), so I knew that we would need a lot of shelf space. Rather than buying some generic prefab shelves at Ikea, I decided to build my own. This was my first real carpentry project, so I drew up a model of what I wanted to build in the free 3D modeling software, Google Sketchup.


I vastly underestimated the amount of work that would eventually go into this, mostly due to a technique that I undertook called “edge gluing.” I needed a shelf depth of about 14″ to accommodate my record player (as seen in the model), but the widest boards that Home Depot sells are 1×12, which in real dimensions actually about 3/4 x 11 1/4. To get the depth I needed I decided on edge gluing 1×8 boards to make a shelf that is about 14.5 inches deep in real dimensions. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of this process, but it took what felt like an eternity. Every piece of the unit had to be edge glued, sanded, and stained. The whole process took about 2 months.

Once I had all of the pieces, I started assembling the units. Here you can see the clamps being used to glue on a 2×4 I used as a baseboard.


During the construction, I deviated from my original design slightly. I added the baseboards shown above; I decided to make the shelves 6 feet tall instead of 8 feet; and I changed the shelf configuration slightly. I built 2 shelving units and a smaller TV/entertainment unit that was actually deeper (3 edge glued boards instead of 2) than the shelves. Here’s a photo of the finished product.


If you’d like, you can download my Sketchup file here. Sketchup is an incredible free tool, and it’s easy to learn. It has a very large active user community and a humongous library of pre-drawn models.

Google Sketchup File