Greene & Greene Magazine Rack - my "own" design #1: Basic design layout

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Blog entry by Mike_D_S posted 05-16-2016 09:31 PM 1065 reads 2 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Greene & Greene Magazine Rack - my "own" design series Part 2: Tweaking the side panels for better flow »

My wife has some books, magazines and a few other things she uses often and they tend to sit on the table or off to the side of where she normally sits to read. She asked me to build her a magazine stand in a similar style to the Aurora night stand I recently finished.

So I took up the challenge to do something in a similar style which would have obvious visual ties to the Aurora table, but not a copy. I spent some time looking through my reference books and gathering my ideas. Then I did a few rough pencil sketches until came up with one that started to look about right. Then I moved to Sketchup and did a layout to really get a feel for the proportions and how the different design elements flowed together.

The basic proportion is based on a specific book with hard sided storage sleeve she wants to keep on the bottom shelf. The book with the sleeve is 15” wide and 11 inches deep. so that set the basic parameters that the shelves would be 16” wide and 12 inches deep. So adding 2” legs gave me a base width of 20” and going with a bit of golden mean, that put the height at about 32.5 inches. I fudged a bit and went to 32 7/8” high so the actual carcass could be 32 and adding the top would keep it close. Then I decided to breadboard the top, so adding a bit on both sides and then the breadboards, and the top is 26.5”.

Having the basic size roughed out, I then proceeded to the design elements I wanted to incorporate. I gathered much of my inspiration from the Tichenor dresser, drawing the side panel layout and cloud lift elements from there. I originally thought to do the legs with a waterfall like the Aurora table as one of the unifying elements, but due to the relatively short leg exposed beneath the front rail, I changed my mind and decided to go with the tapered leg indent (Gamble house table?).

Though the shelves won’t carry significant weight, I wanted to try my hand at the lofted design used in some of the G&G bookcases where the shelf is thick at the back and then has a sort of lift pattern cut into it so the front face of the shelf is thinner, looking lighter overall.

The last thing was the top and here I decided on using the same basic layout and style of the Aurora table top, so in addition to the breadboards, I also added ebony accents on the sides and front/back. I have not yet decided whether to add some small ebony plugs on the legs at the rails, but I may still do so.

After getting that all laid out in sketchup I’m pretty happy with it. The proportions are reasonably harmonious and the overall look is attractive I think. Most importantly, it got the OSSoA (Official Spousal Seal of Approval), so I’ll let it stew a bit and then get started. The drawings below show the current state of things.

I’d appreciate any comments on the design and input on the joinery, assembly techniques. At the moment, the leg indents are definitely overstated in the current drawing with a 1/4” indent, but I’m already thinking I’ll soften them a bit by using less indent and then extend them vertically another inch or so.

For construction, I’ll go with mortise and tenon for the rail to leg joints. For the back and side panels, I’m still deciding on whether to use Mahogany ply or go with a ship-lapped back and then glued up panels for the sides. The latter is definitely more period, but ply would be soo easy.

Appreciate any comments.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

5 comments so far

View BurlyBob's profile


3466 posts in 1686 days

#1 posted 05-16-2016 10:41 PM

I really like the design. So if I catch your drift, your going to build it out of Mahogany? You mentioned Mahogany plywood. Sounds like it should be really beautiful.

View pintodeluxe's profile


4825 posts in 2234 days

#2 posted 05-17-2016 12:06 AM

I like the overall design. I feel like the cloud lifts on the side panels seem like there are too many lifts in a short length. If it were me, I would simplify the sides somehow. Either make the top rail straight and the bottom rail as pictured… or perhaps less cloud lifts on both. If you are trying to match existing furniture, by all means stick with your design.

As far as plywood vs. solid, I am always happier when I use solid wood sides and back. If you need to buy 2 sheets of mahogany plywood, say 1/2” for the sides, and 1/4” for the back it may actually be cheaper to use hardwood.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View JimYoung's profile


219 posts in 1008 days

#3 posted 05-17-2016 01:43 AM

Hi Mike,

I really like the design and the G&G elements you have chosen. I agree with Willie on the number of cloud lifts on the sides. The concept is sound, but the number of lifts make it look a little busy for the length. Or use a simpler arched cloud lift like on your nightstand.

My other comment is the thickness of the top front rail seems a little thin. The side rails look better, maybe match that thickness on the front and back.

As far as the back, maybe you could add a center divider like on the sides. This could be done with two 7” wide boards and lets you match the side panels better. I’m not sure what the grain pattern on Mahogany plywood looks like. Will it match the rest of the solid wood?

My $0.02, you asked.

Either way it will be a fine looking piece. I look forward to following along.

-- -Jim, "Society is well governed when its people obey the magistrates, and the magistrates obey the law." -- Solon

View Mike_D_S's profile


172 posts in 1635 days

#4 posted 05-17-2016 02:39 AM

Well I forgot to actually say, but yes it will be Mahogany.

I know what you guys mean about the cloud lifts on the side. There is just too much lift and not enough cloud. I did new lower rail with a wider set to the lifts. I think its better and more proportional. More cloud lift and less step pyramid.

I left my other machine at the office, so I can’t insert it into the model at the moment, but here is a shot of the redesigned lift. I’ll later the upper rail to match the top of the lower rail.

The front upper rail may be too thin. But I sort of like the delicate look of it. On the other hand, I also think the front upper rail should be visible under the lip of the top from a fairly close distance. So if you’re standing 2 or 3 feet from the piece and looking down, I sort of feel like the upper rail should be visible. So I may have to make a mockup out of cardboard and see what I think.

For the back and sides, I think I’ve settled on solid wood. I’ll make a small rail for the top and bottom with a rabbit in both to mount the shiplapped back pieces to fit into. for the side, I’m thinking to make the center divider basically a stile with two panels more of less floating in dados all the way around.

-- No honey, that's not new, I've had that forever......

View htl's profile


2019 posts in 580 days

#5 posted 05-17-2016 07:02 PM

I love the style and will be watching this build.
Great start to a fine finish.

-- There's a hundred ways to do anything, alot depends on the tools at hand.

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