simple ash bookcase

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Project by JoeinDE posted 04-23-2009 03:45 AM 2262 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have a backlog of projects but a lot of them are simple and were very much the creations of a novice. This was my first “large” build not using pine. I purchased some 3/4” ash that had been sitting in a barn for 50+ years and decided that I would use it to make this bookcase for my 2-yr old son (notice he has one of his toys on it already in the last pic). The back is lauan ply. The joinery is all butt joints with and without pocket holes. I am still scared of dovetail joinery, but I am hoping to give it a try in my next big build. The stain is Minwax cherry and the topcoat is a satin polyurethane.

Things I learned in this project.

1. Solid hardwood furniture is HEAVY. I hurt my back trying to carry this thing by myself up from the basement.
2. It is very easy to butcher a piece with a block plane if you don’t know what you are doing. I did some serious damage to the bottom horizontal face piece and I didn’t have the patience to sand out all of the damage. The finish really made that bottom piece look crappy. I might go back in the future and try and repair this defect, but it is low on the priority list since this was designed to be beaten up by my young son.
3. Right angle clamps are very useful and worth the money.
4. If I had owned a plunge router when I was making this I probably would have attached the shelves with dadoes, but for this project I attached the shelves with cleats glued and screwed into the side pieces.
5. 3/4” is strong enough to hold some serious book weight without bending. As an experiment I pulled out some of my old chemistry textbooks from college (I am a chemist) and put them on the shelf. The shelf did not bend.

Again. I am a beginning WWer so I am more than happy to listen to comments and constructive criticism.


6 comments so far

View Woodhacker's profile


1139 posts in 3716 days

#1 posted 04-23-2009 04:18 AM

Joe, welcome to LJ. I hope you like it here. This is a great woodworker’s community.

Your bookshelf looks great whether you’re a beginner or not. If you have an interest in dovetails you should go for it. I love using dovetails…I find them very rewarding. However, I would read up and practice the dovetail joinery though before you actually use them in a project. And don’t underestimate the value of a good dovetail saw. Also, I have a few blogs on dovetails here on LJ if you’re interested.

Again the bookshelf looks great. Thanks for posting it.

-- Martin, Kansas

View a1Jim's profile


117085 posts in 3570 days

#2 posted 04-23-2009 05:59 AM

Why to go Joe You might check out martins Blogs.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View JasonIndy's profile


187 posts in 3428 days

#3 posted 04-23-2009 06:05 PM

Looks really good man, especially for a first-time project. I’m in the middle of my first one now and it’s a wall shelf with Ash boards. I really like the way you oriented the grain on this piece, it really stands out.

View JoeinDE's profile


444 posts in 3316 days

#4 posted 04-23-2009 08:32 PM

View SST's profile


790 posts in 4188 days

#5 posted 09-06-2010 07:16 PM

I find ash to be a beautiful wood both to look at and to work with. I think you chose a great stain for this project. A couple of suggestions for the future. With planing, it’s critical that your plane be razor sharp. If you haven’t browsed the web for sharpening techniques yet, you may want to try that. Also, I note that the grain patterns in this wood have some “interesting” areas. These complex spots are a challenge when planing and it can take some practice working them with a hand plane. I recommend reading “The Handplane Book” by Garrett Hack as a great starting point. (They’re on, often used, pretty reasonable)
Also, and maybe before you play with dovetails, you might try some dado & mortise & tenon joints as well.
And remember, woodworking, like life, is a journey… sometimes the road is a 4 lane highway, and sometimes a rough back road. Enjoy both routes.

-- Accuracy is not in your power tool, it's in you

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3681 days

#6 posted 11-19-2011 06:46 AM

I’m not a fan of staining wood , but you did a great job on this piece , color and all : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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