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1850 bookcase

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Project by DaleMaley posted 10-20-2021 11:08 PM 606 views 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Our historical society owns and maintains a house….........and the claim to fame is that Abe Lincoln spent the evening in the 1860 home….....and his height was measured at 6 foot 4 inches in the doorway. Two people have extensive collections of Lincoln related books they want to donate to the house but we have no bookcases.

So, being a woodworker, decided to build and donate 2 bookcases to the house. I wanted them to be period correct, but when I searched the Internet I only found an English 1850 bookcase. I concluded most Americans in 1850 owned just 1 book, the Bible, and therefore did not need a bookcase :)

I decided I would use the electric version of sawing and drilling, since they had manual saws and drills. Router was ok because they had hand planes.

The only thing I noticed that was different on the 1850 English cabinet was the back panel. Today, we would use plywood, but not available in 1850…......so they used “floating panel” method commonly used in kitchen cabinets to allow for expansion and contraction. I cut off some 1.25” long cut nails to about 5/8” length and put 1 at the top and bottom of each floating panel in the center….......so the panel can still expand and contract.

I went with rectangular cut nails versus modern nails. They still sell them, but they are expensive. I usually use steel bent table top fasteners, but since they were not available in 1850, went with wood version. I used a lot of dowelled joints. No nails are visible looking at the outside of the cabinet (they are on the back or under the base)

I have always used polyurethane, but since that was not available in 1850, went with pre-mixed Amber shellac from Ace Hardware. Had not trouble with shellac, but man it dried quick, in about 1 hour !!

Main cabinet is red oak, and back panel is common pine.

You can see all the details at my woodworking web site using this link.

This was a fun project…........now onto building unit #2, which should go a lot faster since I know what materials and methods I will use :)

-- Dale, Illinois, http://dalemaley.webs.com/





17 comments so far

View mtnwild's profile (online now)

mtnwild

4577 posts in 4809 days


#1 posted 10-20-2021 11:33 PM

Where do you insert the marbles?

Just kidding, Wow, you really did that wood proud, great build and love the finish…

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View DaleMaley's profile

DaleMaley

593 posts in 3518 days


#2 posted 10-20-2021 11:38 PM


Where do you insert the marbles? Just kidding, Wow, you really did that wood proud, great build and love the finish…

- mtnwild

I am a very flexible woodworker :) I have built everything from small marble games to a gazebo with a 22 foot diameter and 497 pieces of wood :)

-- Dale, Illinois, http://dalemaley.webs.com/

View mtnwild's profile (online now)

mtnwild

4577 posts in 4809 days


#3 posted 10-20-2021 11:43 PM

Oh I know that…I was looking through your multitude of well made projects…To be proud of…Skills man…

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View recycle1943's profile

recycle1943

5955 posts in 2904 days


#4 posted 10-20-2021 11:44 PM

Very nice book case

-- 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 pottz's profile

pottz

21281 posts in 2266 days


#5 posted 10-21-2021 01:06 AM

fantastic work dale,their lucky to have your skills.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View BB1's profile

BB1

2553 posts in 2130 days


#6 posted 10-21-2021 01:41 AM

Beautifully done! Enjoyed reading the background as well.

View swirt's profile

swirt

6798 posts in 4254 days


#7 posted 10-21-2021 01:53 AM

Nice results and good use of age appropriate techniques. The amber shellac did a nice job of matching the color of the pine to the oak.

-- Galootish log blog, http://www.timberframe-tools.com

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

9208 posts in 1856 days


#8 posted 10-21-2021 04:10 AM


I am a very flexible woodworker :)

- DaleMaley

Dale I’m more impressed with your work than ever. You do indeed do quite a few different types of projects, and your saying you can touch your toes too? :-) Whats next sit ups?

JK.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Sylvain's profile

Sylvain

1432 posts in 3781 days


#9 posted 10-21-2021 08:46 AM

Very nice.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn (and that is nice)

View JCamp's profile

JCamp

1459 posts in 1833 days


#10 posted 10-21-2021 08:56 AM

Very good job. That’s a lovely book shelf for any day or age and the Bible would look good setting on it too! Lol

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View DaleMaley's profile

DaleMaley

593 posts in 3518 days


#11 posted 10-21-2021 11:35 AM



Nice results and good use of age appropriate techniques. The amber shellac did a nice job of matching the color of the pine to the oak.

- swirt

Yes, I was worried about staining pine…........I never have very good luck and often get a splotchy look…......but the cherry stain with the amber shellac came out nice. I bought common 1×4’s and they also have smaller diameter knots than wider boards like 1×6 and wider.

-- Dale, Illinois, http://dalemaley.webs.com/

View ugoboy's profile

ugoboy

144 posts in 4316 days


#12 posted 10-21-2021 11:39 AM

Very nicely documented. Sticking to period methods is really difficult even with todays advancements. Just curious why you didn’t use Hide Glue. It is readily available and works really well.

-- ~ Guy Woodward, Pflugerville Texas

View DaleMaley's profile

DaleMaley

593 posts in 3518 days


#13 posted 10-21-2021 11:47 AM



Very nicely documented. Sticking to period methods is really difficult even with todays advancements. Just curious why you didn t use Hide Glue. It is readily available and works really well.

- ugoboy

I thought about hide glue instead of Titebond II, but I guess I had enough “firsts” for me on the bookcase :) I’m taking a short break before I build the 2nd unit, so maybe I will check out hide glue for the 2nd bookcase.

thanks!

-- Dale, Illinois, http://dalemaley.webs.com/

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

9396 posts in 3548 days


#14 posted 10-21-2021 01:25 PM

It looks really fantastic.

View awsum55's profile

awsum55

1184 posts in 1791 days


#15 posted 10-21-2021 05:46 PM

Looks really nice, it came out great.

-- John D, OP, KS

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