Jefferson bookcases

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Project by Dave Polaschek posted 08-20-2021 07:55 PM 990 views 2 times favorited 45 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I blogged the construction of these over many of the months I spent building them, so if you want excruciating detail on the construction, that’s the place to look.

Short version, each shelf is a separate box. Should I ever need to move again, I can fill each box with packing paper, then screw a front onto the box, and it’s ready to move. Some of the largest cases will be heavy for one guy to move, but I can pick up every one of them myself if I have to. And should I decide to rearrange them, I can do that without taking all the books out of the cases.

They’re built of 3/4 pine. Mitered through-dovetails on the corners, with the back rabbetted in, and in most cases made of two boards ship-lapped so they can move with the changing humidity. The backs are glued top and bottom, and nailed on the sides, again so they have an opportunity to move without tearing themselves apart.

I count 70 boxes. Took me over a year, but there were plenty of distractions along the way. When all is going well, I can complete about three or four boxes in a week, including finishing, which is two or three coats of shellac.

Thanks for looking!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

45 comments so far

View Tom Regnier's profile

Tom Regnier

523 posts in 3795 days

#1 posted 08-20-2021 08:08 PM

Beautiful work Dave…love the dovetails!

I’ll trade you a top 5 book recommendation?

View Oldtool's profile


3326 posts in 3439 days

#2 posted 08-20-2021 08:15 PM

Job well done, these look great. Nice work Dave.

-- "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

8474 posts in 1830 days

#3 posted 08-20-2021 08:38 PM

Thanks, Tom! I’d have to think about top 5 books. I unloaded 8 boxes to the local library, and what remains are “keepers.” I may have an issue…

Thanks, Tom!

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Bioguy's profile


19 posts in 438 days

#4 posted 08-20-2021 08:42 PM

I love the design. Wish I knew about this style 30 years ago. I married a librarian. We both love reading, but I HATE moving books.

As for having an issue…Nah, there is still wall space there. Plus I bet you have other rooms in the house.

View PaxJen's profile


214 posts in 1904 days

#5 posted 08-20-2021 08:46 PM

Congratulations on finishing a really nice and impressive project. Good dovetail practice! I really like that design.

-- Pax - Maryland

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8474 posts in 1830 days

#6 posted 08-20-2021 08:48 PM

Thanks, bioguy! The idea came from The Schwarz writing an article about them a while back, and yeah, moving books (and having the movers fold some of the large format paperbacks to fit them into a box) is something I hope never to do again.

Thanks, Pax. I now dovetail things I never would’ve thought of doing that way before.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Dark_Lightning's profile (online now)


4858 posts in 4357 days

#7 posted 08-20-2021 08:49 PM

Nice! I have a lot of books, but nowhere near that many!

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View oldrivers's profile


2735 posts in 2814 days

#8 posted 08-20-2021 09:01 PM

My ,My, That was quite a task but perseverance paid off really well. Congratulations on finishing a really nice project

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View ohwoodeye's profile


2691 posts in 4401 days

#9 posted 08-20-2021 09:21 PM

Great looking build.
I can appreciate the design and layout. Nice looking miters and dove tails.
The only issue I have is that books are for prisoners.
Other than that, A+ build.
Well done.

-- "Fine Woodworking" is the name given to a project that takes 3 times longer than normal to finish because you used hand tools instead of power tools. ----Mike, Waukesha, WI

View jeff's profile


1386 posts in 4713 days

#10 posted 08-20-2021 09:22 PM

Wow. That’s quite an endeavor.

-- Jeff,Tucson,Az.

View splintergroup's profile


5877 posts in 2470 days

#11 posted 08-20-2021 09:26 PM

Congrats on finally catching you white whale Dave! Looks great in your space, the modular approach has so many benefits with the only minus I can think of is a bit more material is used.

Long term projects rarely get finished in my world, I’m too easily distracted.

Next thing you know you’ll be invaded by silver fish 8^(

View LittleBlackDuck's profile


8114 posts in 2069 days

#12 posted 08-20-2021 11:11 PM

Nice set of cases DP...

Must admit I cannot confess to spending a misspent childhood (or adult life) on that nefarious practice of reading... however, that camel makes sense… to me.

-- If your first cut is too short... Take the second cut from the longer end... LBD

View recycle1943's profile


5866 posts in 2870 days

#13 posted 08-20-2021 11:18 PM

great job Dave – stackable, moveable and attractive, what more could a person want.

BTW – The public Library in Santa Fe will probably be wanting to borrow some books, make them get a Library card first !

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8474 posts in 1830 days

#14 posted 08-20-2021 11:37 PM

Thanks, Steven!

Thanks, oldrivers!

Thanks, Mike.

Thanks, Jeff!

Thanks, Splint! Helped that I could just knock out a few bookcases at a time. If I had been able to see the whole project when I started, I probably wouldn’t have.

And we did have silverfish when we moved in, but seem to have eradicated them.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

8474 posts in 1830 days

#15 posted 08-20-2021 11:41 PM

Thanks, Ducky!

Thanks, Dick! I’ve donated eight boxes to the local Eldorado library while unpacking. I expect they’ll get a box per year from here out.

-- Dave - Santa Fe

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