Waterfall Bookcase

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Blog entry by Reifer posted 04-15-2008 05:35 AM 2999 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Waterfall Bookcase

Let me start this off with not only is this my first challenge, but it is also my first blog entry so I hope I’m not
breaking any rules here.

This bookcase is only my third project and it has been a challenge.
It’s been something like 5 years in the making and somewhat of a family joke (yeah, I’ll do it when Dad finishes the bookcase…) but I have this bookcase that is almost ready for assembly and thought I’d
present it in this challenge. I actually found the original plan for the sides of the case. They are very
ragged and since it was done to 1 grid to the inch scale it was too big for a single scan so there is a
top and bottom plan for the sides

Top piece of side design

Bottom of side design

It started out as a floor model, standalone regular bookcase. The basic measurement was 53” tall and
36” wide.
The idea quickly evolved into a step sided case with graduated width shelves to hold picture books
on the bottom shelf, text books on the next, on up to paperbacks on the top shelf. Five shelves in all.

I liked that look but as I was studying the design I noticed that it if you looked at it from the side it was
kind of like a cascading waterfall. All I had to do was round each of the “steps” of the waterfall. To make
the edge pop out I decided to use a contrasting wood. I went with maple as
the main wood and purpleheart as the accent wood. The accent wood forms a 1” band down along the
front of the two sides and a 1 1/2” strip along the front of each shelf. I also decided to add another stripe
of accent wood to the sides to break up the solidness of the maple. It just looked better.

Picture of the actual side

Picture of tha actual side

All shelves have a 1/4” decorative strip of accent wood running along the back edge. The top four shelves
have a front piece on them that is made from the accent wood and is 3/4” x 1 1/2” and match the
rounded step of the side (1/2” round over) and overhangs the bottom of the shelf by 3/4”. They are
notched so the front edge of the accent wood is even with the sides at that level.

Shelf edge detail
Here's the detail of the shelf edge

And here’s one of the top shelves One of the top shelves

The bottom shelf is 14” including base and fits down in the base on cleats. It has no front edge.
2nd shelf is 12” including a 3/4” lip up 14” from base
3rd shelf is 10” including a 3/4” lip up 12” from 2nd shelf
4th shelf is 8” including a 3/4” lip up 10 ” from 3rd shelf
5th shelf is 6” including a 3/4” lip up 8” from 4th shelf
The side extends up 6” above top shelf

The back is a hardwood plywood that fits into a rabit along the backs of both the sides.
Next I decided it had to have a base. I’ve always like the mission style and Greene & Greene so the
base has that influence.

The BaseBase

To cover the plywood edge along the top I created a reverse image of the
front of the base at a slightly smaller scale.

The Top Top

Here’s a picture of the bookcase dry assembled by my helpers. We had some issues with sliding in all
four shelves at the same time in this upright dry assembly so I’ve just a picture of the top shelf installed
but it gives one an idea of what it will look like.

Picture of assembled bookcase

Here’s a frontal view with just the top shelf in

Front view

The last view shows a detail of where a shelf meets the side.

Shelf/side view

I used more pictures than others have, I hope that was alright. I’m not much in the design department I’m

7 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3984 days

#1 posted 04-15-2008 05:51 AM

Nice looking bookcase. I like the design.

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

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3818 days

#2 posted 04-15-2008 12:14 PM

This is a nice looking bookcase and I really like the purpleheart and maple combination. As for the pictures use enough to document the construction process. You did well here. I could follow the process and found it enlightening to see how you completed the build. You executed a good design with this case.

Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 3882 days

#3 posted 04-15-2008 02:29 PM

Nice job!!!!! The more pix the better as far as I’m concerned.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3782 days

#4 posted 04-15-2008 03:17 PM

Lol…. I actually thought you were going to use water next to them books. great design!

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3700 days

#5 posted 04-15-2008 05:11 PM

Beautiful design. I’m with John, a picture really does say a thousand words.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4397 days

#6 posted 04-19-2008 05:55 AM

Great design. Looks very professional.

-- 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 pappyjohn's profile


138 posts in 3709 days

#7 posted 04-21-2008 02:37 PM

Very Nice Looking Design, Love the way you used the contrasting colors of the Maple and Purple Heart. I think you have some great designing talent. Keep the projects coming, I’m looking forward to seeing more of your exceptional work.

-- Your Brother in WoodWorking John, Pittsburgh , PA.

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