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Jefferson Bookcases #1: Introduction

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Blog entry by Dave Polaschek posted 08-02-2020 01:56 AM 430 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Jefferson Bookcases series Part 2: Building the plinths »

When we moved to Santa Fe last year, I had planned to build new bookcases for the house. In my old house in Minneapolis, I had built-in bookcases, and the house here in the Southwest needs a different look.

So I looked around a little, and decided to build the Jefferson Bookcases that Chris Schwarz wrote about for Pop Wood.

Given that I’m in Santa Fe, and getting nice hardwood is tougher here than I’m used to from Minnesota, I decided to build them in pine. I can get nice clear pine from Alpine Builders Supply here in town, and while it’s not cheap, it’s not going to break the bank.

So that’s the back-story. I’m planning to write up the build process as I go, though likely I’ll be behind on writing it up (I have four plinths and one case built as I write this), in part because I’m not great at taking all the photos I need as I’m building. But luckily there are enough repeated parts that I’ve been able to go back and get photos of every step of the way. That means this will be a lot longer than the Pop Wood article I linked above, but will also include a lot of the wrong turns I took along the way, and tricks I figured out to make the build go smoother.

As for parts, there are going to be at least six plinths, holding a stack of cases a minimum of five cases high on each stack. And that won’t even get the paperbacks – I think I’m going to put those in cases that’ll hang on a cleat on the wall above the stacks of cases.

Did I mention that I have a lot of books?

-- Dave - Santa Fe



13 comments so far

View crowie's profile

crowie

3822 posts in 2761 days


#1 posted 08-02-2020 04:39 AM

If it comes out as good as the photo, wow!

-- Lifes good, Enjoy each new day...... Cheers from "On Top DownUnder" Crowie

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

7238 posts in 3014 days


#2 posted 08-02-2020 08:25 AM

Sounds like it will be a very good project Dave.

The links you have provided are well worth checking out if your looking for some stimulation for a project.

-- Regards Rob

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

2994 posts in 3000 days


#3 posted 08-02-2020 10:33 AM

This looks to be a big challenge for you due to the volume of books you have, – but – it should be fun. You’ve got to post photos of the process, I’ll be interested to watch and see how you progress.
Also, want to see your techniques for maintaining the tolerances required to produce the final stacked appearance of one cabinet. My skills would not end in the single smooth sides Chris produced, but rather some small variences in dimensions from one box to the next, as well as a hand cut dovetails that are not consistent throughout.
Looking forward to the posts, have fun on the build.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View mikeacg's profile

mikeacg

1607 posts in 1867 days


#4 posted 08-02-2020 11:16 AM

Dave,

From the teaser pics you have posted already, I can’t wait to follow along with this project.

Mike

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl, http://www.artcentergraphics.com

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5682 posts in 1392 days


#5 posted 08-02-2020 12:34 PM

Thanks, gents.

Tom, for maintaining tolerances, Part of the trick is using my circular saw track guide with stops. That gets my boards, especially the long ones, (which I’ve sized at 30” instead of 48”) as Chris did, all within a sixteenth of each other. I also am using the hand plane I made as a prototype for a previous swap as a finish smoother, and I test fit a lot. The first box I completed is a hair tight in the plinths, so I now have a note to myself to plane off about a 32nd from the back of each box, which should make them a better fit.

And there are going to be variances. My aim is to make them close enough that it looks good to my eye, but as I have over 30 boxes to build, which will go into six stacks, I will swap them around and put the ones that fit together I to a single stack. That should let me hide most of the imperfections. And they’ll be arranged in a U shape, with four stacks of them in a row on one wall, and a stack on each of the adjacent walls, so if I have bad corners, I’ll “hide” them in the corners.

Plus, as we’ll see when I get to the actual build blogs, I’m doing a prototype of each part, and while I plan to use those, rather than throw them away, I know that here will be one of each piece that won’t be as nice as all the others, as I used it to figure out my techniques. The mitered corners aren’t airtight, for example. But I think I’ve figured out how to keep that from looking horrible. And some of the dovetails will be gappy, but I’ll hide them in a stack that stands between other stacks, so I’ll only see them when I’m moving things about.

So that’s the theory. As I said, we’ll see how it goes as the actual build goes on.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5682 posts in 1392 days


#6 posted 08-02-2020 05:34 PM

As for progress photos, here are the teasers that Mike was referring to.

A stack of three plinths. The middle one is the prototype. It has a different reveal on he front, and I didn’t miter the corners on the top of it, so the rabbets for carrying the cases show and look bad. I’ll hide this one in the corner.

And the prototype box, in the largest size. 11.5” deep, 13” high, and 30” wide. The only change that needs to be made is taking about 1/32” off the back edge of the bottom board so it sits better in the plinth.

I’m going to try and write up the plinth construction process today, as I’ve got five of the six plinths glued up, and the sixth is all cut, and just waiting for number 5 to come out of the clamps tonight so I can use them to glue it up.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View clieb91's profile

clieb91

3976 posts in 4745 days


#7 posted 08-02-2020 11:02 PM

Dave, Certainly looks like a fun adventure. Look forward to seeing it progress.

CtL

-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- PortablePastimes.com (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

7238 posts in 3014 days


#8 posted 08-03-2020 04:48 AM

speaking of 1/16

Here is something that Scott Wadsworth put together to assist you in your production.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDfpl1_I904

-- Regards Rob

View mikeacg's profile

mikeacg

1607 posts in 1867 days


#9 posted 08-03-2020 10:48 AM


speaking of 1/16

Here is something that Scott Wadsworth put together to assist you in your production.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDfpl1_I904

- robscastle

Though I’m not sure how much advice I would take from this fellow Rob…

-- Mike, A Yooper with a drawl, http://www.artcentergraphics.com

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5682 posts in 1392 days


#10 posted 08-03-2020 12:47 PM

Thanks, guys.

Rob, I am using the cordless circular saw in the construction, but only for cross-cutting boards to length, and only in my track guide which is a pretty good solution for me. If today goes well, I’ll be cutting all the lumber for the largest boxes to size (11 batches of two 1×12x30¼, two 1×12x14½, two 1×8x29⅝) before the day is done, and then I’ll be able to set the circular saw aside again for another couple weeks while I build boxes.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

3867 posts in 2032 days


#11 posted 08-03-2020 10:22 PM

Looks like your are in for an adventure Dave! Nothing hits the wood budget like shelves 8^)

Re. Southwest style

For really “traditional” work, you need to find the nastiest pine available, lots of character and knots, but structurally sound and straight. Going crazy with decorative carving is a plus and of course you need to artificially age any exposed cuts to keep the tone throughout the piece.

The problem with all this is you would then have to keep all your new furniture projects tied into the old weathered look which makes for some nasty splinters on the future comfy chair 8^)

Looks like you are off to a fine start with something more practical, looking forward to your finished photos!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5682 posts in 1392 days


#12 posted 08-03-2020 10:44 PM

Yeah, it’s a lot of board-feet. And nice clear pine isn’t cheap here in the Land of Enchantment. But it’ll come in cheaper than having someone else do the builtins for me in my previous place, so that’s something. And I’m going to have pine offcuts in my smalls bin for years.

I’m also discovering that I’m going through shellac at a pretty good clip. I’ve got two pounds of flakes on hand, and I’m not sure it’s going to be enough to finish the project.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5682 posts in 1392 days


#13 posted 08-05-2020 09:47 PM

Because I’m finding that having all my tools laid out consistently helps me a lot, here’s a view of the top of my bench during this project.

From left to right:
- clamp rack on the wall. I do not have enough clamps
- planes, mostly used for finishing. Also knife and spokeshave, used on the curves on the plinths.
- chisel and rebate saw/kerfing plane, used for cutting the rabbets in things
- glue, note sheet with cut list, paper towels for cleaning up
- mirror, used for seeing the backside of the piece I’m currently sawing
- twin screw vise for workholding.
- shellac and brush for finishing, mallets for aiding in assembly
- marking tools for laying everything out. Pencils.
- rasps, dovetail saw and turning saw for cutting dovetails
- stack of completed parts
- (on the floor) stacks of lumber about to become shelves

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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