would this work?

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Blog entry by AaronK posted 12-25-2008 12:32 AM 2057 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Been tossing around an idea for a nearly minimalist bookcase idea. i think it might work, but i wouldnt load it with anything too heavy on all but the bottom shelf (or the very center of the middle!). I think, also, that the corner joints of the top and middle shelves would be strongest as through dovetails. the two sets of parallel beam supports in the back would be notched/dadoed to accept the shelves, which might be good partially notched as well. one missing dimension in the figure is the width = 10”, again trying to minimize the stress on those nearly free-floating shelves.

bookcase idea

“bookcase” might actually be a misnomer – if it’s simply meant to hold small objects, like nicknacks or pictures, and maybe a couple books, it might work a little better.

as far as species goes, I keep thinking walnut and maple, not too exotic, but nice contrast.

this also serves as my entry into sketchup design… which is useful/fun.

7 comments so far

View ben's profile


158 posts in 3892 days

#1 posted 12-25-2008 01:46 AM

I like the form you’ve got here. Some thoughts on joinery and design:

For knickknacks, etc., it’s probably good enough regardess of joinery. If you want real strength, consider finger joints, or miters with floating L-shaped tenons. The latter requires either a router jig or a horizontal mortiser, but can make beautiful miters that are stronger (and easier) than secret mitered dovetails.

Random design idea – if you were to take the top of the middle section and make it “whole” instead of 2 pieces, you could run another pair of the vertical supports, and probably add a good deal of strength to the whole thing. Or you could do an X there or something else if you wanted to get a little wilder with your design.

Another thought, assuming this is floor standing – if you intend for it to be flush up against a wall, you need to make sure that the intended wall has no floor trim moulding (is that what it’s called?), or implement some sort of offset to account for it. Otherwise your back will be floating, and probably look quite different from what you intend.

Also, does 25 mean something particular? Because sometimes I look and that’s what I see :)

View Brenton's profile


20 posts in 3483 days

#2 posted 12-25-2008 03:02 AM

I see the 25 now, too.

-- Here I post the good, for the rest has become firewood.

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3486 days

#3 posted 12-27-2008 01:53 AM

hah, no i never thought of “25” and it sure doesnt mean a thing!

anyway, thanks for the comments, ben. I’m not sure exactly what you mean about the floating L shaped tenon – that is, i cant really see how that would be stronger than a simple splined miter. one leg of the L would have to be very weak, whereas the spline would be all cross-grained. anyway, i think i’d go for finger joints or dovetails for aesthetic reasons.

i think your idea of joining the top of the middle section is good (i tried to do it in sketchup just now, but ruined something else in the process, oh well). even without more vertical supports, it’d be much stronger that way.

also, good point about the flush mounting – i didn’t think of that at all, and yeah, it would make a difference. Maybe I’ll have the vertical supports protrude a 1/2” or so, with something to compensate for the small baseboard at the bottom.

thanks again!

View ben's profile


158 posts in 3892 days

#4 posted 12-28-2008 05:58 PM

Even though you’re sticking with finger/dovetail joints for aesthetics, I thought I should clarify one thing, in case you use it in the future:

The “L” tenon is usually made of plywood (baltic birch if available), stacked up into a long length of plies, then cut into L’s, or can be of your own tiny finger joint making. This gives you the strength of a good finger joint with the look of a miter.

L tenons from baltic birch

These are the cutoffs from a batch of L tenons I recently used in a mitered case.


View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3486 days

#5 posted 12-28-2008 06:54 PM

wow, that’s really cool ben. i havent come across that anywhere yet, and it seems so easy to do. i think i will definitely be using these in the future. thanks!

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4422 days

#6 posted 12-29-2008 01:40 AM

You might also check out a kehoe jig

I’ve seen one of the chairs at a woodworking show and they do support the weight.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3486 days

#7 posted 12-29-2008 03:30 PM

also a good idea that I hadnt considered or even heard of before. thanks karson!

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