Norm Inspired Bookcase

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Project by breaknrn posted 05-28-2012 06:16 PM 2044 views 5 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my interpretation of the Mesquite Bookcase Norm built. (Thanks Norm!) I made a few changes however. Mine is made of Cherry instead of Mesquite. I also didn’t use the iron wood pegs as he did because the finish I chose was too dark to show them off. I also added another shelf since we are storing mostly DVD’s and not books. I also did a bunch of research. I studied stickley patterns, a few books about mission style furniture, a book from popular woodworking and also a couple articles by fine woodworking. It took about 6 months of planning and making on the weekends.

The project cost roughly $730 in materials, but I have some wood left over for other smaller projects. So far from the scraps, I’ve made a medicine cabinet and will likely make a tool cabinet for the garage (stories for another day). Now here’s some more details in case you’re interested:

Dimensions: 48” wide by 50” tall and about 11” deep.

Materials: Solid cherry for the doors, top, and legs. The side panels and shelves were cherry ply (this stuff is expensive!). Shelves were edge faced with solid cherry. For the lumber, I made three trips to MacBeath, our local hardwood dealer and one trip to Rockler who had cherry as the wood of the month. The wood cost around $600 and hardware was only about $30 dollars.

Details: I spent more time that I normally do on the details. Since it’s a mission style piece, there is no routing or mouldings so I spent a lot of time on the proportions. For example, the center stiles are narrower than the sides so it doesn’t look too wide in the middle. Rails are progressively narrower as you go up the bookcase. The arch at the bottom has the same radius as used in the rails on the side. The book shelves line up with the rails.

Most difficult part: Making the four 50 inch legs. All the joinery is on the legs (16 mortises of varying width), so you really have to plan out your steps. The shelf pin holes were also drilled in to them. It was also difficult to cut the 1.75” X 1.75” stock. I get nervous cutting thick and long pieces on the table saw because of kickback due to potential binding from internal stresses on the wood. I eventually made the cuts on the bandsaw and cleaned up the cut with my jointing set up on my router table. Oh yes, the other thing was that I didn’t have a bit longer than 1.5”, so I had to use a piece of plywood to make a carriage to do the jointing. Then I had to make another pass without the carriage board to cut the rest of the 1/4”. Repeat on all four sides and all four legs. It turned out great though without having to shim any legs to make the bookcase steady.

Hardware: It’s accented by mission style oil rubbed bronze. It features wrap around no mortise butt hinges, and a tear drop pull for the handles.

Joinery: Mortise and tenon for the bookcase body and dowels for the door styles, rails, muntons, and munnions. I used pocket holes for the bottom shelf for strength (and because no one will ever see them). The mortises were done with a router, a template guide, and hardboard templates.

Stain and Finish: Here’s the recipe for the stain. All were hand applied (still learning how to use my HVLP effectively so I didn’t want to take a chance on this project). First off, I started with a washcoast of zinser shellac (to prevent blotching in cherry), thinned to three parts denatured alcohol to two parts shellac. After this dried, I sanded with 180 grit paper to make it consistent and also because I wanted a bit more penetration. (Tip: Hit all the shiny spots). Then I used general finish’s cinammon dye stain (my new favorite). I applied three coats. Then I topped off with three coats of zinser shellac undiluted. I then sanded everything smooth using a whitle nylon pad and steel wool (no sanding in between coats because one layer melts the previous anyways), then followed up with a coat of wax polished smooth.

-- breaknrn

5 comments so far

View Grant Libramento's profile

Grant Libramento

176 posts in 3586 days

#1 posted 05-28-2012 07:04 PM

Nice work. Thanks for sharing the construction details.

-- Grant, Tryon, NC

View Woodbridge's profile


3710 posts in 3025 days

#2 posted 05-28-2012 08:28 PM

Great looking bookcase.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 3554 days

#3 posted 05-30-2012 03:40 AM

Wow, what a lovely furniture piece! thanks for sharing, especially the finish details.

-- Smitty

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4280 days

#4 posted 06-12-2012 02:40 PM

Beautiful bookcase!

View helluvawreck's profile


32086 posts in 3473 days

#5 posted 06-12-2012 03:51 PM

This turned out very nice. It looks like it would be a fun but challenging project.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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