Saturday, April 28, 2012

Putting Billy in the Corner

As part of our kitchen/dining room remodel, we lost the space where my wife's cookbooks used to be stored. She's a great cook and probably has more cookbooks than most town libraries. Needless to say, it was in my best interest to get this plethora of palatable print back into easily-accessible circulation. So, I began looking for bookcases to fill a 24 inch wide section of wall in our dining room.

What I quickly discovered: built-in bookcases are ridiculously expensive and tall store-bought bookcases are usually 30-plus inches wide. After spending so much time, energy, and money making our new rooms look fantastic, I was reluctant to investigate lower end products. When I say I was hesitant to go to Ikea, despite the wonderful smell of cinnamon buns and my desire to eat myself into a Swedish-meatball-induced coma, I mean I was really, really hesitant.  At one point, I think I noted that under no circumstances would Ikea be part of this project. Well, I lied.

It turns out that Ikea is the only place that sells at 95 inch tall bookcase - the Billy with an extensions - that would fit in the space I wanted. After reading Ikea Hackers for years, I knew I could somehow work with this. My solution? The Built-In-Billy hack.

Here's a step-by-step of the project.

First: Assembly Billy. A subset of this step would be to create fictional arguments with the Ikea directions caricatures when you can't tell the difference between part 6780943 and 6780942, both of which are screws that look exactly the same in the picture but in reality are an inch apart in length.

Second: Mind the gap. In this space, I had baseboard that I did not want to pull out because it went below the original hardwood flooring. Instead, I took a piece of 1x2 strapping to fill the gap that would be created between the bookcase and the wall.

Third: Secure Billy to the wall. Since this is a corner, I secured both the back and the side of the bookcase, ignoring the holes for now.

Fourth: Size and install crown and baseboard. I'm not going to lie: this took a really long time, especially the crown molding. After a number of attempts, I was able to use by miter saw to come up with the 4 corner joints this project required.

Fifth: Plaster. Here's the fun part. I used drywall plaster to fill the joints between the bookcase and the wall, as well as between the regular bookcase and the extension unit. I then used plaster to fill in all of the adjustment holes and the underside shelf mounting bolts.

Sixth: Sand. I used sanding pads to smooth the plaster.

Seventh: Paint and repeat. I applied two coats of high-gloss white paint (the same as on the molding in the rest of the room) to the entire bookcase, baseboard, and crown. The end result is a bookcase that looks like it was custom built for the space. The cost $59 using wood, paint, and plaster I had left over from the rest of the project.

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