Of drills, thrills and spills

27 February 2013 - 02:07 By Pearl Boshomane

In our digital reading age, bookshelves have become more of a decoration than a necessity, with countless Pinterest picture boards and Tumblr posts dedicated to them.

Even the simplest shelf can become a thing of beauty when painted the right colour, filled with books that have pretty spines and adorned with a trinket or two.

But they can be expensive. So, why not make your own? How difficult can it be to assemble a few pieces of wood?

It was with this in mind that I headed to Builders Warehouse. I bought melamine wood (which the store's employees cut into the correct-sized panels), nails, screws, a backing board and shelf rest pins. It all seemed fine, until a power drill and a hammer entered the equation. I was intimidated - how on earth was I going to build a decent bookshelf with my freshly done acrylic nails?

Two Builders Warehouse employees, Sicelo Xaba and Siyabonga Tolashe, were on hand to help. We would start with the shelf's outline. First, we placed one of the top panels next to a side panel.

Sicelo showed me how to use power drill. It looked simple enough. But when I tried, the screw didn't go into the wood and Sicelo told me I was being too soft.

Then,like a learner driver, I ended up pushing too hard and the screw jammed. It wasn't looking good, but eventually I got the hang of it. We then screwed in the other side panel. By the time we were adding the bottom panel and completing our box outline, I had mastered the art of using the drill.

Now I had to add the support shelves, said Sicelo. These were drilled into each side of our shelf.

We would then cover the back of the shelf using a masonic board, which I would attach to the panels.

Sicelo brought me a cute hammer, saying: "It's a small hammer so it's suitable for a lady."

I then hammered the board onto the wood panels, using panel pin nails. I hammered another back panel into the inside of the shelf.

Our bookshelf was beginning to look good, but it was missing shelves. As I wanted it to be rectangular and with only two shelves, only one more piece of wood was needed. Instead of drilling the wood in, we would place it on shelf rests, which were put in holes we had drilled into the inner parts of the side panels. Finally it was done.

All that was left was to cover up the visible drill holes with wood filler, some side edging and, well, rows of books. Easy. I think I'll be making bookshelves as birthday gifts from now on.

Builders Warehouse does not assemble shelves of any kind, but they do cut wood pieces for customers. Their manual labour was for the purpose of this article