Slide Together & Apart Bookcase

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Blog entry by CharlesWilson posted 03-31-2008 12:26 AM 3182 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Slide Together & Apart Bookcase

This bookcase was completed in early February, 2008 and accomplished a number of objectives:

1. I finally put to use some oak boards that I brought to Connecticut from Minnesota 30 years ago.
2. I was able to reuse some boards taken out of a stereo cabinet that I had modified.
3. I verified Jerry Work’s claims concerning the Festool dovetail bits (They don’t need to have a rabbet cut before going into wood at full depth).
4. I created a bookcase that assembles/disassembles with no gluing or fasteners (except for edge joining of boards to get the desired width).
5. I demonstrated another use for dominos. (Of course standard shelf pins or dowels could have been used to support the adjustable shelves.)

The bookcase is vertically symmetrical with interchangeable components used to hold it together on top and bottom. The sides and shelves were about 12” wide, and were edge joined using 5mm dominos to align the boards during glue-up.

The preview option shows that my pictures have been cut off, so to see the whole picture, click on it.

Basic Structural Components

The sides of the bookcase are, of course, mirror images of each other, but since they are vertically symmetrical, they are also identical. (I registered the domino spacings from the midpoint of the sides.) Stopped dovetail slots from back to front will receive the top and bottom shelves. The backs of these shelves also have a male dovetail that locks into 7” wide boards that prevent the assembly from racking. The kickers (top and bottom) have male dovetails on their ends, and each fits into a dado in the shelf, locking the assembly in place. The 20mm Festool dovetail bit was used to cut the dovetail slots using the OF-1400 router. The cuts were made without first opening up the slot with a straight bit! The last time I tried that was 35 years ago, and I sure generated a lot of smoke back then. This operation went without a hitch, and the dovetails were flawless.

I used 6mm (narrow setting) domino mortises on the sides for the variable shelf supports. The depth of the mortises was set to 15mm. After locating the midpoint of each side, I used the guide rail and a 1000mm MFS section to locate the domino mortises. In this project, the mortises were referenced from the edge of each board using the standard pin on the domino machine. Mortise spacing was 30mm.


The shelves had ‘open’ domino mortises placed in them. The depth setting was 25mm. The front of each shelf used the narrowest setting, and the rear used the middle setting. The mortises were created by using a piece of MDF on top of the shelf, with the domino fence height set so the bit just cleared the bottom of the MDF. A little cleanup with a chisel was required.

Trial Assembly of Components

Here we have a test fitting of one of the sides.

Stabilizing rail

To add stiffness and prevent the sides from bowing out, I created a stabilizing rail, and hand dovetailed it into both sides. The bookcase seems very rigid, and the addition of a back is not planned at this stage. I will keep the FOG posted if any modifications are required.

Here it is assembled and loaded.


The basic SketchUp appearance of the assembled components is shown in the picture below:

SketchUp Image

The SketchUp file for the assembly is here

The SketchUp file with animation is here

The SketchUp file with component dimensions is here

Finally, The AVI file created by SketchUp is here

Let me know if any of the links are broken.


3 comments so far

View Greg Wurst's profile

Greg Wurst

794 posts in 3856 days

#1 posted 03-31-2008 03:22 PM

Interesting use of Dominos for shelf pins. I was curious about what kind of load they would handle in that configuration when I was first looking at the pictures, but then I saw the pic of the bookcase fully loaded so it doesn’t seem like they have a problem.

-- You're a unique and special person, just like everyone else.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4148 days

#2 posted 03-31-2008 05:02 PM

Nice! I’ve been thinking about using Dominos for shelf pins, my sweety doesn’t like the Eurostyle dowels and would rather just use hardware, now I’ve got something to show her for reference!

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4012 days

#3 posted 04-01-2008 06:27 AM

That’s pretty cool. Great use of dominos.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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