Square and True
When the glue cured, I returned to my table saw and squared up the edges of the long blanks. With the second slice of the process, I ripped them to their final width. Then I used my power miter saw to crosscut the shelves and uprights (pieces 1 and 2) and even the TV shelf (pieces 3 and 4) to length. I cannot overemphasize how much trouble you will save yourself if these cuts are exactly square and true, so double-check your saw settings for each new cut.
With the components prepared, it was time to start machining the joints. These are straightforward dadoes and rabbets, but since they’re exposed, they need to fit snugly to look good. I decided to use a handheld plunge router to cut this joinery. These rabbets and dadoes could be formed on a table saw with a dado head just as easily. After I set up my router and made a few test joints using cutoffs from the actual stock, I continued to test the fit of the joints randomly throughout the routing process. Once the joints were all cut, it was time to assemble the bookcases.
I used a foam paintbrush to apply a thin coat of glue to the faces of each joint. I built up one compartment at a time, checked them rigorously for square and allowed the glue to cure. If your joints are cut well, this process will go very smoothly. I glued the TV shelf and the fascia strips together in the same manner.
The Finish Line
You can’t escape it: now it’s time to sand. The maple veneer faces of the ApplePly need very little sanding, but the edges are a different story: they need to be sanded smooth right through to 180-grit. With that done, I applied three coats of dewaxed shellac and a final coat of wipe-on polyurethane.
And even if I am forced to say it myself, I’m very pleased with the results — full-sized mockups, basic joinery, sound design and good material combine to create a lovely little bookcase set.