Show off Your Handcrafted Projects. It's Free! Start Sharing

Evelyn's Bookshelf

author-gravatar blucz Apr 17, 2017

A bookshelf for a 2 year old. Made of Hard Maple and finished with GF High Performance. This tree was tough! Lots of defects/color to work around. Some sticker stains and minor issues from the milling/drying process, and it wasn't the most stable stuff. I'm happy with how it turned out, but I definitely had to "let go" and not sweat the details a little bit. If I tried to avoid everything funny about this material, the entire thing would have ended up in the fireplace.

Every panel in this piece is a glue-up. Time to get going. These are the top, bottom, and shelves. This wood is all from the same tree and milling was a real challenge. It was fully rough, and not in the best shape. I planned to use full-width boards for these parts, but when I got to doing it, they were too warped to yield a 3/4" thickness. So it's time to make some panels.

Each one goes about the same. Match plane, liquid hide glue, and then into the clamps.  

All done. Situations like this are why there are never enough clamps.

I've been "off" for a few months, so I decided to cut a few test dovetails before diving into the whole case.

Before doing the layout, I planed the saw marks off of the edges.

And, to minimize the chance of mistakes, I routed the rabbet for the back panel. Why does this minimize mistakes? Because it's pretty much impossible to screw up the location of the dovetails or get turned around once these rabbets are cut.

All done!

Single entry dovetails are not as hard as they look--yes you need to saw very accurately, but there's half as many critical cuts on the tailboard, so that's nice. 

I actually cut these dovetails with a rip-filed carcass saw, because 3/4" of hard maple is a little bit much for my 20tpi dovetail saw. I ended up breaking my last fret-saw blade about halfway through, which added to the drama a little bit. I ended up finishing these with a turning saw. With the fretsaw, I can pretty much close my eyes and let muscle memory take over. With the larger turning saw, I was continually petrified of crossing the baseline. Thankfully, there were no incidents..

One dry fit, just to be sure. I'm not brave enough to do without it!

Something went wrong with the original shelves, so I'm re-making them. All of these boards started out 12' long..not fun in a small shop. This was one of the clearest ones. 

New shelves!

The shelves are going to be dominoed into the carcass. Why? Because it is easy, will come out perfect, and I'm not into doing things the hard way for no reason.

Long guide lines make it foolproof.

It's nice to pre-glue the dominoes--saves time during the glue-up.

Before I put it all together, I used a smoothing plane to put a small bull-nose on each shelf.

Then finish sanded them, since I won't be able to access them once it's all together.

Time for the big show. No way I'd do this with anything other than liquid hide glue--need that open time to get everything together.

Some of the troubles with the wood showed up here--the carcass boards bowed a little bit. Usually the dovetails will mostly sort this out, but the stiffness of the hard maple made it difficult. It worked out ok, but the extra time was definitely welcome.

Ok, halfway together. Time to put on the last board.

Whew, all together.

Time to clamp it up. The excessive clamp quantity is pulling a cup out of the sides. It mostly worked.

While the carcass is drying, I can get to work on the back panel. Here I'm cutting some quick tongue and groove at the table saw.

Simple enough. I made some extra so that I could toss out troublesome boards, get everything arranged nicely, and have extra room to cut it down to size.

Nickels make great spacers. I'm planning out the layout and figuring out the final dimensions.

Before I can test-fit the back panel, the corners need to be cleaned up.

One last detail..I need to make the feet. Since all I have from this tree is 4/4, I need to laminate to get to a reasonable thickness.

Then I worked out this nifty design.

Cut it out at the bandsaw.

Made a bunch of feet blanks.

Did all of the relative dimensioning to figure out where things meet up.

Planned out the compound tapers.

Did the layout for doweling it together.

Drilled holes for dowels.

Marked the mating pieces.

And then glued it all together.

And clamped it up. 

And put it under the bookshelf!

It looks like crap. It's going in the fire. I'm going with a simpler design.

I was able to reuse the feet.

This time I went with dominoes. Faster.

And clamped it up. 

While I'm waiting for that to dry, it's a good time to finish sand the rest of the case.

The feet are attached with tabletop fasteners.

If I could go back in time, I'd remove those sharpie marks. They'll never be seen, but I know they're there. I just forgot about them.

Whew, all done-ish.

Time for finishing. I try to do this outside of the shop keep dust out of the finish. The harsh bluish light comes from a soft-box. Together, this setup gives me really great results. I can see what's going on, move the light around, control the angle, and really pick out surface problems. I did the finishing in two rounds. First, with the back panel off, I finished everything but the rear of the case. I used GF High Performance--this was my first time using it. It's really nice stuff.

Now that most of it is finished, it's time to attach the back panel. I started by spacing the boards out properly and taping everything in place.

Then I pre-drilled for cut nails. The boards are irregular in width, so these were positioned by eye.

Time to nail them in.

All lined up!

And done. 

Ok, NOW it's fully assembled. One last step...

Putting finish on the back panel. Back to the living room, four more coats, and this one is done.

1 comment

I get excited when I see that you've posted a new project because they are all a treat to look at. This bookshelf is no exception. I love the T&G back panel, the inset base, the bull-nose profile on the shelf panels and of course the dovetails. Great choice in the finish too, it kept the maple nice and white and has a good sheen.

Thanks for sharing!

You need to be signed in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join now

3