We have completed sanding the floor and woodwork in the room, but if we thought that was the end of it, Nic has had a bright idea and the original banister rails are being replaced by scaffold board bookcases. Inspired by Elephant Buffet’s blog post ‘How to keep from falling down a staircase’, we’re starting off in a similar manner but with some differences in the construction to keep it simple, rustic and thoroughly modern with straight lines and clean corners.

The staircase opening to our modern rustic (to be) bedroom with the original banister rails

Our starting point is unique to this room, but for anyone wanting to create something similar, the existing bannister rails need to be removed. The bannister posts here run down into the floor and are incorporated into the structure of the downstairs walls. Rather than remove them completely, we have decided to allow the posts to contribute to the base of the bookcase. Having placed the lengths of wood that will be used to make the base of the bookcase on either side of a bannister post, they act temporarily as a cutting guide. The bannister post is then saw off, running the flat of the saw across the tops of the guides.

Dismantled banister rail with a small piece of the original post

The remainder of the bannister rails are removed. In our case, a small piece of the old bannister is left in place but it could have been completely saw down to the level of the floor.

Destined to have been made into bath trays, we’ve taken our scaffold boards and cut them to size for bookcases instead

The bookcase is mostly constructed from reclaimed scaffold planks. Having decided how big we wanted the bookcase to be, the scaffold planks are cut to size, one length for the bottom shelf and two pieces to make the sides. Just to check everything is correct, we balanced everything in place and cast a critical eye over the dimensions, condition and warping of the planks. Not bad.

The bookcase is to have 2 shelves, one at bottom and one halfway up. As scaffold boards are about 35mm thick, a grove of this width is chiselled into both planks that make the sides. As this bookcase butts up against the wall, it is sanded smooth and bolted into place, making it very sturdy, steady and safe for its dual role as bookcase and bannister.  Our second bookcase/bannister will be free standing and we’ll post on this blog the way we make it. At the moment, we plan to make it much like this one.

Put the base of the bookcase in place and screw to the floorboards

We’re using lengths of wood cut to a square profile. The one at the front that can be seen has been darkened using our aging solution. The other at the back of the bookcase has been left its natural colour as this will be hidden in the construction. Both pieces are screwed to the floorboards.

Our reclaimed scaffold boards are slightly warped. Clamping before screwing gets them nice and flat.

Sand the scaffold board that makes the bottom shelf. Screw the shelf into place along one edge – in this case the back and then if you have something to clamp to, apply pressure to flatten it out and then screw. We we’re cautious in applying the pressure as it is possible to split the planks in two if done too much. However in this case it did flatten out nicely so all is well.

Any clamps can be removed and the bookcase is ready for the other side to be fastened to the base and middle shelf slotted in. We did think about using dowels, glue and screws to hold the shelf in place but simply slotting the shelf in is enough.

Finally, the two planks for the top can be screwed down into the side planks. Originally, the top was a light blond colour when removed from the pallet but will be aged using the solution we’ve made. This needs to be done to both planks and the back of the bookcase needs making. We’ll show how this was done and the second free-standing bookcase made in ‘How We make A Bookcase – Part 2’.