Jefferson Bookcases #5: Winging it with Big Cases

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Blog entry by Dave Polaschek posted 08-09-2020 01:28 AM 621 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Large case pin boards and backs Part 5 of Jefferson Bookcases series Part 6: A back for the oversized case »

After getting my third case glued up, and my second one finished and installed, I unpacked a box which held some of my big-ass art books and measured a few of them. Sixteen inches tall! That’s not going to fit!

So I called an audible. Since all the lumber I bought was in four foot lengths (48 inches), and the cases are 30¼ inches wide on the outside, I can pretty easily make a case that’s… carry the one… 17¾ inches tall on the outside, minus ¾ inch twice for the wood thickness, and I’ve got a case that’ll hold a book that’s 16¼ inches tall.

For back boards, a 1×12 and a 1×8 will add up to 18 inches and change, but I’ll need to nail them to the back outside of the case instead of rabbeting them flush, so the big-ass art books won’t hang out the front of the box. And because it’s been a long day, I figured I’ll work out all the math for those boards tomorrow. I should have enough width to overlap them by at least a half inch. ⅜ and ¾ are my fixed width rabbet saws, so one of those will hopefully do the trick.

Also of note, each box takes 2oz of shellac flakes in 13oz of denatured alcohol to finish (filling a Late July brand salsa jar). I’m going to have to order more shellac, and probably pretty soon. Guess I should’ve gone for the five pound discount last time.

Oh well. Another day, another two boxes (though the second one still needs a quick sanding and a final coat of shellac). I’ll write up my finishing schedule another day.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

12 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


3026 posts in 3038 days

#1 posted 08-09-2020 02:11 AM

Don’t you just love it when projects present those pesky little problems just to see how good you are at thinking of solutions. Nice adaptation to accommodate the large art books.

-- "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 Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days

#2 posted 08-09-2020 03:29 AM

Thanks. Yeah. I kind of expected something like this. I also have some coffee-table books (I’m not sure of the exact distinction between them and art books, but it exists) that will need the larger case. Part of the reason for deciding to do this style of bookcase was because I know I have some awkward books that need special solutions, and I figured it’s easier to accommodate them with individual boxes than with full-height cases.

I still need to figure out the paperbacks. My current best plan is small cases, three or four rows of paperbacks high, that will hang from a cleat on the wall above the stacks of cases, but I’ve got at least a month of work between here and there to figure it out.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Don W's profile

Don W

19697 posts in 3415 days

#3 posted 08-09-2020 11:12 AM

I would have probably had one book sitting on top :-)

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days

#4 posted 08-09-2020 11:45 AM

I would’ve too if it was just one or two books, Don. I think by the time I’m done unpacking, I’ll have nearly a full case of these oversized monsters. Maybe more than one, even.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View doubleDD's profile


9639 posts in 2891 days

#5 posted 08-09-2020 01:41 PM

These are really turning out nice Dave. At least you came up with a good solution.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View GR8HUNTER's profile


7782 posts in 1560 days

#6 posted 08-09-2020 02:08 PM

loving this ride along .. GR8 thinking there .. this way you can say their custom bookcases GREAT JOB :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days

#7 posted 08-09-2020 03:20 PM

Thanks, Dave! I suspect there will be one or two more solutions along the way.

Thanks, Tony! They’ll definitely be custom, and you’ll probably be able to tell what were good days and what were bad from how gappy the dovetails on any given case are.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days

#8 posted 08-09-2020 05:25 PM

Another one done and in.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View theoldfart's profile


11998 posts in 3299 days

#9 posted 08-09-2020 05:30 PM

Not gappy just room for expansion.

They look quite fine Dave. I’m still living with Ikeas for the time being. Our book room is also my wife’s sewing area and occasionally the grandkids bedroom. I need to design something to accommodate all of the above and be modular.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days

#10 posted 08-09-2020 09:19 PM

Thanks, Kevin!

Got the back glued into the oversized one this afternoon, and also glued up another of the size in the pictures. Should blog to finish out the construction changes for the big boy, but I need a little break while our frittata bakes. Going to try and get the first couple coats of shellac on the oversized one yet after dinner.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View MrWolfe's profile (online now)


1055 posts in 971 days

#11 posted 08-10-2020 02:39 AM

They are coming along nicely Dave!
So you have two different size case now, one for large books and one for medium sized books?
A third size for paper backs might be cool too if you stacked them, large, medium and small.
Whatever you come up with though will be very cool. Love the hand work and the blog!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5839 posts in 1430 days

#12 posted 08-10-2020 03:07 AM

Thanks, Jon.

The two sizes I’ve built are for large books (woodworking books, for example), and really large books. I’m planning to build cases for smaller hardcovers, trade paperbacks, and regular paperbacks. Plus whatever else I find as I unpack and see exactly what I have. But there will be a minimum of four sizes of cases.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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