Before I address the title of this blog entry, I must back up a bit here. I have not been working on the bookcases and mantel for several weeks because near the end of May, my grandfather became very ill and passed away on June 1st. Our family left town at the end of last weekend after the service was held. In the midst of all this turmoil, several sections of our back fence blew over during some 50-60mph winds. We were going to replace this fence either later this fall, or possibly next spring, as this was the last bit of old fence in the yard, which was at least 35-years old, according to one of our neighbors.
However, when the fence blew over, my wife and me agreed that it had to take priority over other projects we had either started (such as the bookcases and mantel), or projects we were going to start, such as painting a couple of rooms inside and finishing up painting the outside of the house, laying a 300+square foot paver brick patio out back, and a couple other smaller projects around the house.
Now that I’ve caught you up-to-speed, I wanted to take a few minutes and update the progress of the bookcases and mantel. I can only do this because it started raining last night and is going to continue raining through the course of the weekend. I should be working on the fence, but it’s kind of hard to dig holes in mud, or get concrete to set-up in the midst of the rain. So it’s back to some indoor work, and honestly I think I need to relax a little bit as I’m feeling run down from the last several weeks.
As you’ve guessed from the above paragraphs, no physical progress has been made on the bookcases and mantel since my last blog entry. We have been talking about possibly modifying the design ever so slightly of the bookcases to include an extra storage compartment on either one, or both bookcases.
There will be a 4-5” tall section that is about 3-feet wide below the bottom shelf on each bookcase that is essentially vacant space. It’s the area below the shelf and behind the front trim. And as we actually like to use our woodburning stove during the winter time, I’m thinking this area would be well-suited as a small storage nook for a few newspapers, leather gloves, the nylon wood tote, and a lighter. We normally keep this stuff next to the fireplace, either in, underneath, or around the little metal wood bin. All this stuff clutters the room up though. However, the vacant space at the bottom of the bookcases seems like a prime opportunity to remove these none-too-aesthetically-pleasing items from the floor, by incorporating either a drawer at the bottom of the bookcases, or a hidden nook accessed via a hinged door that opens towards the fireplace like a wide, but very short door.
Herein lies a bit of a design dilemma: At this point, the bookcases will not stick out as far as the pillars at each end of the mantel. The pillars will protrude farther into the room than the bookcases. The obvious choice here would be to add a simple pull or knob to the door/trim strip to open the compartment. But in so doing, there would be an awkward, broken line along the bottom of the trim. Your eye would gravitate to this knob, as it would certainly appear out of place within the overall design.
The other option would be to turn this vacant space into a sliding drawer. In so doing, I’d be significantly reducing the useable space of the compartment, which is fairly small to start with. However, this might make it easier to access the contents, rather than having to fish out invidividual items from a dark, floor-level, recessed nook. This would allow for the addition of a knob or drawer pull at the center of the trim and would look more visually “correct” to the eye than the other option above.
While typing all this out, I just thought of a third option: I could still go with the idea of having a hinged, but hidden front door that opens toward the fireplace without adding a pull to it. I could simply build the door wider and tie it in to the bottom of each pillar. Think about it this way, it would be a door that has 3-pieces to it to include the bottom of the bookcase trim strip, then 2-of-the-3-sides of the mantel pillar trim strip. And on the inside edge of each pillar, I could route out a small finger slot. This would produce a visual break in the trim, but it might not be as noticeable as putting a handle on each side as I listed in the first option above.
Each 3-sided section would swing out into the room as 1-unit or door, with the hinge side being along the outside wall… the left side would have the hinge at the left, and the right side would have the hinge at the right.
I would also need to leave a small gap at the bottom so the door doesn’t make contact with the wood floors as the door is opened, maybe 1/16-inch, or so. I haven’t gotten out a straightedge and run it along the floor in the areas the doors would swing out into to see how level (or not) the floor is on either side of the fireplace. The gap might be able to be smaller, or it might need to be bigger.
I wish I had an actual plan I could show you, but everything is in my head at this point.
I hope you can roughly visualize what I’m talking about. Please let me know if you need clarification on any of this.
What are your thoughts, recommendations, etc. regarding this possible addition of either a door, or drawer? The carcasses have not been built yet, so I can easily modify the design at this point. I just have the carcass frame pieces rough-cut to size, but not assembled.
-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."