Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Inexpensive Library Table

When we bought our house, we were excited about the formal living room. Not because we're formal people, but because the space was perfect for a home library. We're both bibliophiles, and have a ton of bookcases. We bought more...

Because the room was sizable, we decided to make a library table using six short bookcases (two rows of three set back-to-back) with a furniture-grade plywood top, and trimmed out to look like a single, sizable, piece of furniture. The whole thing sits on a rug that protects the hardwood floor and breaks up all the woodgrain, floor to (laminate) bookcases. We bought the bookcases (furniture-in-a-box; I think the manufacturer is Sauder) on sale at Meijer as part of their back to school sale, so if you're thinking of trying this, that's a good time to buy them. 

The top of the table is made from a sheet of plywood, cut to size and stacked. A single layer didn't give us the height we needed to add trim and have the trim be high enough to get books off the top shelf.
We used that grippy shelf/drawer liner stuff to keep the plywood from sliding on the tops of the bookcases. I used green wood stain on the plywood, a color close to one of the shades of green in the rug. (The room also has one green wall.)

Two coats of Minwax Express Color in Emerald, much prettier in person.
Once the top was finished, the trim was stained. I used Minwax PolyShades hoping to do it all in one shot -- don't be lazy; I hate that crap and won't ever use it again. Use stain, then seal it with polyurethane. PolyShades is nearly impossible to apply evenly. ANYway, we found trim that had a leaf motif, an excellent complement to both the green colors in the room, and the leaves in the rug. The trim was mitred to fit perfectly onto the table surface, and nailed into the plywood. (If we had to, the table surface can be lifted off of the bookcases, but it would take several people to do it -- it's heavy!)

First coat of poly/stain. We found the trim at Home Depot.
The finished table, exactly the right height for looking something up in the big unabridged dictionary, is my pride and joy. It's the first thing I see when I come downstairs in the morning, and it still gives me a bit of a rush.

Completed table, with the trim stained to closely match the color of the laminate bookcases.
I call it an "inexpensive library table" only in comparison to something that was made in a single piece and out of wood instead of particle board. I honestly don't remember exactly what we paid for each one, but it was probably around $20 each on sale (this was two years ago), so "inexpensive" is highly relative. If you're thinking of picking them up one at a time, as finances allow, remember that availability may change, styles may be discontinued, etc. 

Also, if you're a serious bibliophile and need to keep track of your collection, I highly recommend LibraryThing, an online book cataloging website. It's fantastic!

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