A couple of days ago I start working on designing a bookcase for for the guest room in our house. I’ve done a couple of other projects for that room and we really just need this bookcase to finish it off.
The design brief looks like this: The finished bookcase has to be wider than it is tall, roughly five feet wide by maybe three and a half feet tall. It will be made from Quartersawn White Oak and finished with the same regimen as the cabinet and sconces I made so it matches in color. The style should tend toward “mission” or “craftsman” within the Arts & Crafts genre. I’m generally fixated on Greene & Greene these days, but this works too. For myself I want to incorporate some stained glass work, and it’s important to me that this be more than a rectangle with shelves and mission-y details.
In the previous post I started by laying out a 2D drawing of the rough proportions first, then building up the initial components and assembling them in SolidWorks. I ran into a couple of problems, neither were insurmountable, but I ran out of time to go through the model and make all of the requisite changes. I won’t rehash all of the specifics, but the main problems were around how to fit the back and clearance issues with the side pods and not having enough room to fit everything.
I’ve solved both problems. For the back — for now — I’m going with a solid wood ship-lapped back. I changed the width of the staves for a little more visual interest. They will be screwed into a rebate on the back of the case and into each shelf, which should lock everything together reasonably well.
For the side pods I made them deeper by an inch and shortened the length of the mortises, moving them further back from the edges of the case sides. This gave me (barely) enough room to inset the middle shelves and door. I also chased down several other “bugs” in the model, so this is probably close enough to reality that I could build it.
Now that I have the basic “bones” in place I can start playing with the details to develop a better feel for it. I’ve already tweaked a few things, for example I removed the through tenons on the toe kicks, I decided that didn’t add anything and it felt inconstant to have them on the side pods but not the center unit. And adding through tenons on the ends of the toe kick on the center unit would be visually messy with the side pods.
I want to play with the height and shape of the backsplash components, explore different options for the case back, add hinges, door pulls and of course figure out the stained glass design for the doors. I’ve got another several hours of CAD-hackery to go before I’m ready to decide it’s ready for construction — and then the real work begins.
I’m worried about getting the wide Quaretrsawn White Oak for the project though. Usually when I see this material it’s in narrower widths. I can certainly glue up narrow bits to make wider pieces, but for the sides and top shelves at least I really want solid wide boards with some dramatic ray fleck figure.
Realistically I’m at least a week from being able to start on it as I need to finish the Thorsen House Cabinet first. The woodwork on that cabinet is 99% done, there are just a few details to complete, finishing and making the stained glass for the door. I’m really eager to see that one come together.