Boarded Bookcase

Megan Fitzpatrick

This sturdy and handsome boarded bookcase is an excellent beginner hand-tool project (and it's a fine bookcase, no matter your experience!). It can be made with 1 x 12 lumber from the big box store, so there's no need to thickness rough lumber. You can dive right into the fun of crosscutting pieces to length, then cutting dado joints by hand (as well as a couple hand-cut grooves). Final assembly is done with traditional square-shanked nails. It's a fun project that's simple to build and simple to adapt to just about any size and storage need. Build your own Boarded Bookcase today!

  • 7 lessons
  • 158 min
  • $59.00

Here's what we'll cover:

  1. Intro and Tools

    Here is where you’ll find an overview of the Boarded Bookcase project, and an introduction to the tools used.

  2. Side Preparation

    As we get started on this project, you’ll learn how to orient your boards for the best success and how to use traditional marriage marks to quickly get your boards all facing in the correct direction. And we’ll get started on the hand-cut dados – the first step is to plane the joinery surfaces so […]

  3. Dados Three Ways

    With the surfaces prepped (Chapter 2) we’re ready to lay out then cut the dados – I’ll show you several ways to go about it, from the “training wheels” of using a batten to guide your saw, to just marking the line and cutting the line (which is one of the great things about hand-tool […]

  4. Shelves and Grooves

    Here, we fit each shelf to its dado, and learn to plane cross-grain as needed for a perfect fit on a tight shelf – as well as how to fix a loose fit. Plus, you’ll see how a well-fit joint can let you make use of slightly twisted or cupped boards. Then, we’ll lay out […]

  5. Assembly and Toe Kick

    One of the great things about this project is that even if your wood-on-wood joinery is a little loose, it will still be a sturdy bookcase. The nails make it so. But we’ll still use some liquid hide glue (belt and suspenders) to help hold things together – and I’ll share the benefits of liquid […]

  6. Painting and Adding Backboards

    Here, I talk about finish choices before painting the home-center backboards and case exterior. We’ll learn how (and why) to use cut nails to attach the backboards; as with square-shanked nails, you need pilot holes – but the orientation on cut nails is of additional importance. Then we’ll drill the pilot holes and nail the […]

  7. Bonus: Backboard Options (Including Making Your Own)

    In this bonus video, I’ll show you some options for backboards, and talk about using a specialty plane to cut your own tongue-and-groove joints. Then I show you my preferred hand-cut backboard approach – shiplapped joints, and how to set up and use a fenced skew rabbet plane to cut them. Then I’ll cut a […]


What Will I Receive?

  • Detailed cut list and plans including a PDF and a SketchUp file (Metric and Imperial).
  • Hours of detailed video instruction showing every step of the Boarded Bookcase course.
  • All videos and plans are digital and will be available for download upon purchase.

What Will I Learn?

  • How to use marriage marks to make sure everything goes together in the right direction
  • How to lay out and hand cut tight dados (as you learn the joy of router planes – as well as how to go without)
  • How a few cross-grain plane passes lead to a perfectly fit shelf
  • How to hand cut grooves
  • How to use blue tape for nail location layout…so you have to think about it only once
  • How to use tapered, square-shanked nails without splitting your work.
  • How to plane corners and cross-grain joints to ensure the front of the case is co-planer
  • Choices for backboards
  • Suggestions for finish

What Will I Need?


  • 4 Home Center Pine or Poplar 1×12’s
  • 1 Box of Cut Nails
  • 1 Box of Square Nails
  • 10 Home Center Beadboards (optional)


  • Crosscut saw of some ilk…longer is better; used to cut dados in the sides
  • Tenon saw or other rip-filed backsaw (if you have one – not strictly necessary)
  • 5/8”-wide chisel if you have one; ½” if that’s what you have… largest that’s less than ¾”
  • Mallet
  • Router plane (large if you have one, but small will work)
  • Cutting/Marking Gauge (I prefer a wheel marking gauge, such as the Tite-Mark)*
  • Marking knife (Ideally, one that has one flat side, but any will do)
  • Smooth plane
  • Block plane
  • Hammer
  • Dividers
  • Beading plane (if you have one and are planning on beaded backboards)
  • Hand drill (or drill/driver) and set of bits (for nail pilot holes)

About Your Instructor:

Megan Fitzpatrick

Megan Fitzpatrick, a.k.a. @1snugthejoiner, is a woodworker and the editor at Lost Art Press. She is short one dissertation of a Ph.D. in English literature (focused on early modern drama), and a former editor of The Chronicle and of Popular Woodworking Magazine. When she’s not at the computer or teaching, you’ll find her building furniture (mostly tool chests) or at the bar alongside, Christopher Schwarz, publisher at Lost Art Press.
In addition to woodworking teaching woodworking, writing about woodworking, and editing writing about woodworking, Megan is restoring a circa-1905 four square in Cincinnati’s Northside neighborhood, and living amidst the chaos with her cat, Olivia the Greyt. Her personal blog is