Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 6, Issue 2
   November 2011
   Bookcase for a Child's Room

  Child's bookcase
  A necessity in a child's room, a bookcase keeps each toy in its place.
My five-year-old daughter's room is frequently a mess. Toys, games, puzzles and books are strewn across the floor, presenting a tripping hazard and often getting ruined. I've come to the realization that kids need organizational aids just as much as adults, so to help her keep her room tidy and to instill good habits, I decided to make her a shelving unit. I started by sourcing plastic bins to use for hiding clutter and to help my daughter sort her playthings into categories. I found some inexpensive ones that come in several colors and sizes. I selected two sizes that differed in height only and I based the dimensions of the shelf on these bins.

Each shelf was designed to hold up to three bins inserted lengthwise. That means the width of the shelf needed to accommodate the length of one bin; to this I added 3/4". The length of the shelf needed to accommodate the combined widths of three bins, and again I added 3/4". The unit consists of four shelves and two upright gables. The spacing between shelves is equal to either the height of a tall bin plus 2", or the height of a shorter bin plus 1". Closer tolerances would be more space efficient and would look neater, but would also make it more difficult for a child to manipulate the bins. To determine the height of the gables, I added enough room at the bottom so that another row of shorter bins could be slid underneath and 6" to the top to act as bookends. The material I chose for the shelf was 3/4" Baltic birch plywood. It's high-quality and made of 13 void-free layers so it's thick enough to span the distance needed and not sag under the weight of the bins. The exposed edge is fine for the informality of a child's room. In fact, it's surprising to see how many of her toys and games are already constructed of the stuff. I used two 5' x 5' sheets.
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