Jefferson Bookcases #6: A back for the oversized case

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Blog entry by Dave Polaschek posted 08-10-2020 01:55 AM 325 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Winging it with Big Cases Part 6 of Jefferson Bookcases series Part 7: Smoothing and prep for shellac »

For the normal cases, the backs are rabbeted into the sides of the case. It makes for a very strong case, the back is attached solidly on two sides, and can move with the seasons thanks to the lapped joint in the middle, and it can still bear some weight thanks to the nails holding each of the two pieces in.

For this oversized case, I needed to put the back onto the sides of the case. This changed a few things in the construction. Rather than mitering the back corners, I can just do a normal dovetail. The back will still be glued on two sides, and nailed all around, so it can expand and contract with humidity changes and not tear itself or the case apart.

The first order of business is cutting the shiplap joint between the two back pieces. Since I’m working with ¾ inch finished stock, I did the laps ⅜ inch deep, but overlapped by ¾ inch, which looked about right from laying the two boards on top of the case and measuring with my eye.

I also noticed that the narrower of the back boards was the right length for insetting it into the back of the case. That is, it’s ¾ inch too short. Oh well. The wall will see it, and I’ll know it’s there, but it shouldn’t hurt anything.

Once that was done, laying the two boards on the case and eyeballing it with them overlapped showed me I had about ⅛ inch too much lumber. So I put the shorter board in the vise, and quickly planed a little less than a quarter inch off it.

I also noticed that the case wasn’t quite square (one diagonal was about a quarter inch longer than the other), so I applied a clamp across the longer diagonal and cranked it until the case was square. Didn’t take much, and the difference was too small to mess with while gluing up the carcass yesterday.

After gluing the two long edges to the case, I nailed on the backs. This should hold the case square, in addition to holding the back on.

And then I added clamps between the nails. Probably didn’t need to, but a tiny bit of glue squeezed out, so I figure it was worth the effort.

And that’s where I left it for the day. I’ll plane the outsides of the case smooth and fix up any minor imperfections tomorrow and apply the first couple coats of shellac.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

3 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


3031 posts in 3043 days

#1 posted 08-10-2020 10:17 AM

Cases are coming along nicely. Detail your method for the shellac application, thanks.

-- "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 oldrivers's profile


2290 posts in 2419 days

#2 posted 08-10-2020 11:40 AM

Looking Good, Dave.

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

5871 posts in 1435 days

#3 posted 08-10-2020 12:23 PM


Will do, Tom. I think that might be next up, unless I stumble into something else to cover this morning.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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