Solid Mahogany English Library

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Project by Eric M. Saperstein posted 07-05-2009 08:06 AM 6949 views 10 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a hand crafted solid mahogany English library. This 16’ by 20’ room includes a granite counter wet bar, audio center and fireplace. Ten individual bookcases units were custom built and fitted within the room using hand carved moldings.

Hand planed raised paneling surrounds the doors and fireplace – yes hand planed, we’re the last of the insane ones that actually do that. The short version of the story was when our client asked us to actually hand plane the whole room of panels I made a joke that I’d consider it if he bought me a new truck. Well … my previous truck … he took the deal. I was lets see, 13 years younger at the time and my arms still felt like they were going to fall off. The cost of a truck has gone up a tad; I still think I’d take the deal again and suffer the achy arms!

The molding work is all carved with a modified dogwood and leaf pattern. Shelves and structures are all solid mahogany, except the back panels which we determined given the number of books covering them was just not worth doing in solid wood. I’m actually surprised the client didn’t go all solid backs.

The room incorporated a wet bar, fireplace, hidden cabinet for a central home audio system, and gold painted crown molding. Very classic English woodwork appeal.

The room resides in an 11,000 square foot reproduction French Chateau in New Jersey. We’d love to get to do a few more of these rooms soon!

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

12 comments so far

View timmytimmy's profile


12 posts in 4801 days

#1 posted 07-05-2009 08:31 AM

Wow! That is beautiful. It inspires me to keep trying to better my skills. I now have to go wipe the drool off of my computer. Great work sir.

-- timmytimmy

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 4304 days

#2 posted 07-05-2009 08:37 AM

Thanks! This was one of those projects that I have to say “Someday … I want one for me!” ... I put a simple oak one wall in our current house. If we ever move the plan is to build something like this into the house.

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5217 days

#3 posted 07-05-2009 01:21 PM

you must have been ecstatic when asked to do this. After looking at just a couple of your projects I get the feeling that this style is very “you”.

Oh to have such a room … stunning. (great story about the truck as well.) I think you are a man with many a story to tell!!!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5274 days

#4 posted 07-05-2009 03:19 PM


-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View aurora's profile


238 posts in 4308 days

#5 posted 07-05-2009 04:07 PM

very nice, would love to some of he close up details, panels, carved mouldings etc …

View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 4304 days

#6 posted 07-05-2009 04:19 PM

Thanks for the feedback!

A few subtle changes perhaps, but yes – I’d do almost this exact room for one of my own. I think I would put in corner units instead of square corners is one shift, and I would change the way we did the molding work to be a little more, well mostly complex to install, but show off a little more of what we can do. I’d probably go to 5/4” shelves also, I have a collection of leather bound books that weighs quite a bit. I would change out the floor to be a wide plank oak, and probably do a Crawford ceiling with either copper or brass stamped panels. I would also likely carve the face moldings with a bit more detail, again to show things off option wise. I also would go with the tung and groove solid wood backs – and make sure I left room with open space in the shelves to display it.

Given whatever we do for ourselves is part of our showroom, we end up doing the touches that take things to another level. (Or well – in some cases half-ass it and get it done since we’re not getting paid, anyone in a trade has been through that too!) – There’s a few more images here, some may be larger than those linked into this site. I don’t have a lot of super closeups as the general setup is pretty simple. I’ll see if I have any closeups of the carvings and post those.

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4417 days

#7 posted 07-05-2009 04:25 PM

A lot of fine hard work went into this job…well done Eric.

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4633 days

#8 posted 07-05-2009 06:06 PM

Hey Eric
This is a wonderful Library with outstanding workmanship. These are the type of commissions we dream of but when done sometimes we find they were not that profitable but a great advertisement of our skills. This is not to say this was the way it was in your case.
Very well done


View Eric M. Saperstein's profile

Eric M. Saperstein

766 posts in 4304 days

#9 posted 07-05-2009 06:21 PM

Very true about the profitable nature of projects. There is certain a time and a place to give the “I want this in my portfolio!” price … Although I to date have refused to downgrade a quote for for any custom commission the recession, there are those that we have decided would just really look good in our portfolio. Given it is better to be paid to experiment and build something new to make yourself look good than to just build it on spec and hope someone buys it; I think we all have cut our rates a bit to make sure we get such jobs.

Detailed carving projects often fall into the category of earning a fraction of the rate per hour you can get from slicing plywood into an entertainment center. Carvings are something you really just have to enjoy doing to make it fully worth the effort that goes into them.

A room like this – done again today, I’d figure a base price with similar moldings, square corners, simple crown moldings, plywood backs, etc. WITHOUT the hand planed panels easily about $75K depending on a few options of wood choice, etc. There is about 72 running feet of cases, panels, and molding. In solid wood doing a room like this for this less than $1,000 a foot as a starting point isn’t worth it. Hand planed panels, I’d figure $100K and I’ll do it again. Also consider these are no sprayed finish, this is all penetrating stains with hand rubbed coats of shellac and tung oil varnish. All final finishes on projects like this are done in place after the installation touch-ups, nail fills, etc.

The cases go together fast – the rest takes time!

-- Eric M. Saperstein, Master Craftsman

View ND2ELK's profile


13494 posts in 4830 days

#10 posted 07-06-2009 09:09 AM

Simply beautiful Eric! I am like you, I alway thought it be nice to have a study like this. Thanks for posting.

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View BobR's profile


136 posts in 5041 days

#11 posted 07-07-2009 03:25 AM

That is one beautiful room Eric. Great workmanship!

-- Bob

View mark76wa's profile


97 posts in 4451 days

#12 posted 07-14-2009 07:01 AM

How did you get into my house to take these pictures. I am going to fire my security company.

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