Bookshelf

Here is woodworking project I built in Jan 2009. Having a lot of books, we were once again needing storage. So, I decided to build a bookshelf. I wanted to do something a little different than your standard bookshelf. After looking at some Mission Style furniture I came up with this design. It’s made out of white pine and stands 6′ tall, 33″ wide, and 12.5″ deep. Here’s a completed picture of it so you’ll know where the parts below fit in.

One of the design features of mission style furniture is vertical slats. For my bookself I had 30 of the 3/4″x3/4″x12″ slats to cut. I cut the slats a little long, ripped them to width, and then again to height. To cut 1/4″x1/4″x1/4″ tenons on both ends I first switched to a dado blade and adjusted it to 1/4″ height. Next, I placed one of the slats on my miter gauge and butted it up against the fence. This allowed me to cut notches into the slat at a repeatable distance from the end. After the first pass, the part was rotated 90 degrees and another pass made. After four passes I switched to the other end and repeated the same steps. That left me with the parts I wanted (slats with tenons) and some extra length on both ends. I then put the piece back on the miter gauge and cut off the extra leaving slats at the desired length. It was much faster to do than describe!

The horizontal side pieces also have tenons on both ends that fit into mortises hand cut into the tall beams that make up the edges of the sides. These mortises were made using the technique described above to create the notches on all four sides. Then I used a tenoning jig to cut the cheeks out. All but the top and bottom horizontal pieces also had three square mortises cut into the top and bottom to receive the slats. I created a jig for my drill press that allowed me to create identical sets of holes in each side piece. After this, I then cut the round holes into square holes with a 1/4″ chisel. You can see these in the picture after this one. On the insides of the horizontal pieces a dado was cut to hold the shelves (not shown).

Here is one of the sides partially dry fit together. It’s always a good idea to dry fit parts to make sure you don’t run into any surprises while gluing. To assemble it the side pieces and slats had to be put together first. Next, this assembly was slid into one of the side beams and then the other side beam put on. All in all, it was a rather tricky task. Note the three small mortises in the bottom of the picture mentioned above.

Here is a view of of one of the entire sides right before glue up. The slats were not glued in since they can’t go anywhere due to the tenons. This will allow them to move some as the pieces grows and shrinks. I left the ends a little long so I could adjust the height some if desired but cut them down before gluing. Note that the side pieces are not centered height wise on the end beams. This allows the shelves to sit flush on the inside and while creating a visually appealing step on the outside. Well, I found it to be appealing. Your mileage may vary.

I had to snag this picture tonight which is why it’s finished. In this picture you can see where the shelf fits into the dado I cut into the sides pieces. The ends of the shelves were notched in the front and the back which kept me from having to cut into the vertical beams.

After the piece was assembled I put a coat of preconditioner on it to get rid of blotching. Pine is known for this so it’s better to be safe than sorry. After that, a coat of Minwax stain and several coats of polyurethane were applied. The bookshelf has been in use for a little over two years and still going strong. There are no cracks and the joints are still tight! There are small gaps at the ends of the slats but you have to be very close to notice them. Overall, I was and am pleased with this project.

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