Saturday, November 9, 2013


Sitting in its corner, pretending to be done
It will probably shock you to learn that the tall living room bookcase I started to redo in black last Christmas still isn't done.

No, I guess it wouldn't shock you to learn that the tall living room bookcase I started to redo in black last Christmas still isn't done.

Oh, it's refinished, finally.  Took forever to strip off the crummy oil-based black paint job over white primer, but sometime this summer I finally got that done.  And about a week ago I finally got the black shellac to the point where I like it.

Give it a couple-three days to harden up and cure, and it should be all ready to reinsert the shelves and put the books back in. Right?

But what do you do when you can't remember where you put the shelf hardware or how you even held up the shelves in the first place?

This bookcase has had many shelf-support solutions in its long career.  It came with these bent heavy-gauge wires whose ends fit into little holes in the sides of the bookcase.  Grooves were routed into the side edges of the particle-board shelves to receive the bent part of the support wires.  Trouble is, that method didn't keep the bookcase sides from pushing out from the pressure of all the books and records I keep in it.

The round piece is brown under the shellac, of course
So back in the '80s a woodworker friend of mine retrofitted the shelves each with four plastic disks that receive a screw which fits into a plastic sleeve sunk into the carcase sides.  This did a good job of keeping the whole thing together, but didn't allow for any adjustments to the shelf spacing. From photos I took before I unloaded this bookcase I know the shelves didn't all correspond with the sleeve locations.  And I definitely remember there being some brass shelf spoons I took off.  But I couldn't remember where the aitch I put them last December.

By Thursday or Friday of this week I found them, in the tray of my toolbox.  But only four of them, enough for one shelf only.  And I can't find but three of the twelve black screws I should have for the other three shelves.

And maybe it doesn't matter whether I can find any of this or not.  Because . . .  because . . .  even with some replacement screws I found (intending to paint the heads black, no problem), with the black finish I can't see to get the screws into the sleeves in the sides of the carcase!!

I've been trying the last three days, and it doesn't matter:  Night, day, with a worklight, without a worklight-- with my lousy eyesight I simply cannot see where anything is.  And yes, I shellacked the white plastic sleeves black as well.

Dig the scratches.  And the plastic sleeves I can't seem to hit.
I've already made a mess of my new shellac finish, since the plastic cams or whatever they are that are routed into the shelves have a little protrusion that fits into the sleeve on the bookcase sides.  That didn't matter when it was finished natural teak, but now that it's shellac, I've got scratch marks all over.

Actually, the only reason why I'm not throwing tools across the room and screaming at the top of my lungs is because it is shellac, and therefore repairable.

But I still can't get those screws lined up.

So what should I do?  Get my friend Hannah* to come hold the worklight so maybe I can get at least two of those screw-in shelves in, and thereby return the favor for all the weekends I helped her with some computer work she had to figure out?

Maybe I should invest in some more packs of black metal shelf supports and put all the shelves on those. Oh, and Dremel off the protrusions so they slide in smoothly.

But then the bookcase might go back to falling apart on me once it's reloaded.

Or maybe I could solve that problem by working out something with wires and turnbuckles that'll go behind the books and keep the sides together.

It's too damned complicated having to do all this for a 35 year old Scandinavian Modern particle-board bookcase.  After all, isn't my time worth something?  Better I should have just chucked it and bought a new one.

But I've been online again looking at the price of new ones, and my time isn't worth what they would cost me.  $300 and up for things that aren't built as well as the one I've got.

Maybe I will look into turnbuckles.  It'll give it a high-tech industrial feel.  Just right for my Victorian/Arts and Crafts living room.  Right.

Meanwhile, I'm feeling very, very stupid.  And spending a lot of time I don't have just spinning my wheels.


dynochick (Jan) said...

I can relate to not being able to locate something. I have a vintage lockset with knob and handle stashed away somewhere. I know that the entire set is in a yellow cigar box to protect it until I was ready to use it. I was ready about 8 months ago and I still can't find it. It is beyond aggravating.

Kate H. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kate H. said...

That's frustrating. Even worse if you need that vintage hardware right away and'll need to buy some stopgap until it gets found. Then you'll probably find the good one when it's too late to return the stopgap.

At the moment I've mislaid one of the round plastic plugs or cams or whatever they are. If I can't find it I'll have to use my holesaw to make a wood plug to glue in the mortise. But I'd rather not have to take the time.

Marlene said...

I would start looking at yard sales and Thrift shops. Gotta be something better for your decor and worth your time refinishing.

I can't find some gold jewelry that was placed someplace safe.