Jeffersonian Stacking Book Boxes

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Project by Matt posted 09-05-2015 05:31 PM 1831 views 3 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s the next project on my personal ‘furniture of necessity’ list: a book case. This book case is actually made up of four dovetailed boxes. I got the idea from the Monticello stacking book boxes from Popular Woodworking magazine and an old episode of The Woodwright’s Shop. Thomas Jefferson’s library at Monticello was stored in stacking boxes; should the books need to be moved, boards could simply be nailed over the boxes and they could be placed on a wagon. It’s not clear if the original boxes were dovetailed, rabbeted, or nailed, but the concept is the same.

I chose to build my book case this way because I think it looks neat and I like the utilitarian concept. This design is easily customizable to my book collection and more boxes can be added in the future as the collection grows. Also, I needed a project to start to learn to cut dovetails on.

I chose a Shaker-styled plinth for simplicity and also because I plan to make a small Shaker table for this room. The finish is three coats of amber shellac and one coat of clear lacquer. The boxes are attached to eachother with brass screws. The backs are tongue & groove boards nailed into a rabbet on side pieces.

I’m happy with the dovetails and with the outcome of the project. One design feature I included is grain continuation on the side pieces, which you may not be able to see from the pictures. My finishing needs work but I’m happy with the result.

2 comments so far

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3008 days

#1 posted 09-06-2015 12:24 PM

I like these. The idea of expanding by one shelf at a time is ideal.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Matt's profile


137 posts in 2086 days

#2 posted 09-06-2015 04:17 PM

Thanks Roger!

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