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How to Build Bookshelves Around a Fireplace

Gather storage space around your hearth with these step-by-step instructions.

A beautiful focal point deserves a beautiful frame. Put one around your fireplace with this project.

Materials and Tools:

¾-inch birch plywood
¼-inch birch plywood
tape measure
wood glue
wood filler
220-grit sandpaper
orbital sander
primer
paint
TV mount (optional)
table saw
nail gun
staple gun
miter box
jigsaw

Steps:

1. Measure the space and cut the sides, top, bottom and shelves out of ¾-inch plywood. Cut the back piece of the unit out of ¼-inch plywood. In the pictured project, the lower cabinets were made 20 inches deep to accommodate audio-visual components. The upper shelves are 11 inches deep to hold books and decor objects. If arches are desired, trace the shape of the arch on the plywood. Use a jigsaw to cut out the arch.

2. Build the frame for each cabinet by creating a box with the plywood pieces and nailing together. Glue and nail the shelves into the desired places. Attach the back of the unit by nailing into the sides and shelves. Note: Because the cabinets are assembled in sections, they are easier to handle and fit through all doorways.

3. Install the cabinets by screwing through the back into the wall studs. Make sure the base cabinets are level before attaching the top cabinets. If your unit spans the fireplace, make sure the base cabinets are level with each other so that the mantel and the header will be straight.

4. Build the mantel the length of the fireplace and 11 inches deep, and face it with a piece of molding to give the mantel weight.

5. Attach the mantel to the fireplace.

6. Attach the header by nailing it into the bookcases.

7. Apply wood filler to nail holes.

8. Sand the entire piece and paint as desired.

9. If desired, cut a panel out of ¾-inch plywood for mounting a TV between the two bookcases. Install the TV mount by bolting through the mounting holes into the plywood. Leave a hole big enough to run wires to the TV. Install the panel between cabinets, partially covering brick. Make sure it's well-secured to the side cabinets and the mantel. Keep in mind the weight of the TV when installing the panel.

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