The Sun Case #1: design and considerations

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Blog entry by ben posted 04-18-2008 05:29 AM 2145 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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The Sun Case design was a fun challenge for me, since it was the first time I’ve really designed something with the intent of looking good. (My only previous design was a platform bed, which was all function, no form.) I started with 2 simple design goals:

  • Keep the design open… aka not a true case. Inspired by: supersystem one
  • Center around curves… not traditional for a book case, but interesting. This inspiration came from several places, but the initial seed came from Neil Lamen's Furnitology blog and the Carlo Mollino coffee table he’s been building.

Here is what I came up with:

The sketchup for the design is found here: sun case.skp

Design Details

This design came out of playing around with sine waves. After looking at various angled and overlayed sine waves, I couldn’t find anything that made even a slightly useful bookcase, unless the waves were located to just make curved boxes. Ultimately, I wanted to be able to build the waves from only 1 or 2 bending templates, so I had some limitations.

After some playing around with alternative ideas for the sine waves, I came up with the sun idea, and just rolled with it. I considered the sun in various side and corner position, but ultimately chose the lower left because it seemed to yield the most useful configuration of identical waves. I debated whether to make the frame more prominent. My original drawing also featured the 3-layer design of frame-sun/rays-frame, but looked too heavy, and started to feel like a closed case, so I went back the other way. In order to maintain the “looking out the window” motif, I put the sun in the back, and added radial tapers to the rays. (They go from 1” → just under 4”, and could be done by building a ramp jig for a planer, and running all 5 curves together.) The final touch was to add the (boxey) trinket shelves in the sun space. Overall I’m happy with the design. It’s half form and half function, and it achieved its initial goals.

I assume a Walnut window frame, Padauk sun (or something with red/orange aniline dye), and Ash (or any pale/yellow bend-friendly wood) for the rays.

The design is intended to stand on the floor, and have some sort of wall
mount for vertical stability. One could easily imagine putting it all on
the wall, if the weight is substantially limited.


Things I would reconsider, or that may need consideration if/when I build this thing:

  • Ray ends—right now they are square cut. I like them at the sun side, but not on the ends. Perhaps a simple curve or point would look nicer, but I am a bit indecisive on this one.
  • Trinket shelves—are they worth the bother? The contrast from square to curve has mixed effect for me.
  • Mullions / muntins—they are all simple and square right now. Since there are rays on either side, I thought this looked best, but in the wood I wonder if even a simple chamfer might look better.
  • Joinery—The trinket shelves and the window frame feel like they should all be easily joined with M&T, biscuits, dowels, etc. My intention is that the waves are joined to the frame with dowels. Perhaps doweling the rays even in the “window spaces” would be good, to keep them nicely aligned? It would probably depend on how much springback I saw off the templates.


The sun is made from a 32” radius, and is center-aligned with the middle of the bottom ray. The rays are sine waves with a 12” amplitude and 30” cycle length, built on a template of 60” (2 cycles). The rays are 1” thick, 4” deep, the frame 2” deep, and 2” inches wide in the mullions/muntins, 3” width in the outer frame pieces. All of the other dimensions are easily snagged from the sketchup, but if anybody wishes to know specifics I’m happy to add them.

5 comments so far

View Woodshopfreak's profile


389 posts in 5075 days

#1 posted 04-18-2008 05:49 AM

That looks pretty awesome. I’ll take one Lol

-- Tyler, Illinois

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5433 days

#2 posted 04-18-2008 06:15 AM

That is pretty cool!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5155 days

#3 posted 04-18-2008 12:03 PM


That certainly is unique and a very interesting concept for a bookcase.

Good luck in the contest.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View kshipp's profile


179 posts in 5111 days

#4 posted 04-18-2008 01:40 PM

Very interesting design. Bending wood is something I haven’t tried yet but has always interested me.

-- Kyle Shipp,

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 5427 days

#5 posted 04-22-2008 01:42 AM

Super inventive Ben! I like it because it will be fun to build. I assume this why you had the forum question about the width of boards that could be bent. I hope you build it or something close to it. Keep us posted.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

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