question about Stickley 700 bookcase joinery

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Forum topic by jdh122 posted 01-09-2021 01:08 PM 682 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1268 posts in 4063 days

01-09-2021 01:08 PM

Topic tags/keywords: arts and crafts

I’m about to start work on a Stickley 700 bookcase ( I have Bob Lang’s measured shop drawing to work from (what an incredible resource). But I can’t figure out how the top gets attached to the sides. It doesn’t seem to have a false top the way carcasses do when they have a top that sits proud of the sides and front.
A few options that strike me as possible would be flush through-tenons, dowels, plugged screws, glue blocks. I’m trying to follow the original construction as closely as I can (think I’ll even try doing leaded glass for a first). Does anyone know how the top gets attached?

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

10 replies so far

View mitch_56's profile


60 posts in 1719 days

#1 posted 01-09-2021 02:32 PM

I don’t know how that company attaches that top at the present time.

Having said that, there would seem to be many good options. My favorite choice would be to leave the sides of the carcass 1/2” long or so, and turn that extra length into sliding dovetails which mate into the female sockets you cut in the top. That way, you’ll have great strength, deal with seasonal wood movement, help keep the top flat, and you can glue the front in or leave it knock-down so you can easily remove the top if it ever needs replacing or you decide to do some ornamentation later on or refinish it or etc.

View Aj2's profile


4072 posts in 3043 days

#2 posted 01-09-2021 04:50 PM

I’d wager the top is sitting on through tenons poking up from the sides. Two or maybe even three there shouldn’t be a problem with wood movement since there’s isn’t cross grain.
If that’s too difficult for you then simple table top fasteners will work. If you simple fasteners you’ll have less to show off. :)
Good Luck

-- Aj

View EarlS's profile


4754 posts in 3594 days

#3 posted 01-09-2021 05:01 PM

I just looked at the sticky hutch we have. It has a rail that runs along the front and back with a groove cut in the inside edge. There are renowned pieces screwed into the top that fit into the provide for seasonal movement. I’m not sure if that approach will work with your project.or not.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

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7985 posts in 2633 days

#4 posted 01-09-2021 05:26 PM

I don’t know specifically how the Stickly is designed but every plan I have looked at that has a flat panel like that for the top uses a cleat on the inside front and back with screws driven up into the bottom side of the top.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


6748 posts in 3555 days

#5 posted 01-09-2021 05:28 PM

I don’t know anything about how stickley did things, but the photos show how you can put a solid wood top on a carcase.

Look closely at the top of the uprights. You’ll see a 1/2 sliding dovetail.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Newbie17's profile


169 posts in 1706 days

#6 posted 01-09-2021 05:46 PM

View Aj2's profile


4072 posts in 3043 days

#7 posted 01-09-2021 06:33 PM

I like your suggestion Alaska guy unfortunately it’s probably out of the skill set for the op.
And most lumberjacks.
It is nice too see some advanced joinery
Good Luck always

-- Aj

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1268 posts in 4063 days

#8 posted 01-09-2021 07:51 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions. Sliding dovetails would certainly work (those are pretty half sliding dovetails, AlaskaGuy).
The through tusk tenons in the video are certainly a hallmark of some Craftsman style furniture, but would be visible if pictures if they were used in the 700.
EarlS, I don’t think that the button-in-groove attachment would be used here, since, like Aj says there are no wood movement issues: on the front the top can be glued directly to the rail of the faceframe.
Through tenons (as in the sides of this piece) would definitely be another possibility. But I don’t think they were attached that way, they don’t show up in pictures anyway.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View bondogaposis's profile


6047 posts in 3597 days

#9 posted 01-09-2021 08:05 PM

I would attach it just like a table top, with buttons or z clips. Just because wood movement is not an issue doesn’t mean that they are not sound methods of attaching a top.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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1268 posts in 4063 days

#10 posted 01-09-2021 08:08 PM

I just bought Bob Lang’s plans (only the second time I’ve bought plans, usually a few measurements are enough, but I’m happy to pay what is not much money, especially since I just finished a Morris chair from his measured drawings).
A bit anti-climatic: “Top attached after case assembly with screws through back rail and figure-8 fasteners on sides and front”. I guess I was too quick to dismiss the table top attaching methods…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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