Black Lacquer Bookcases | Build

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Project by Chris Davis posted 07-08-2007 03:59 AM 5727 views 4 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Black Lacquer Bookcases | Build
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This is a pair of black lacquer bookcase that I custom built for a customer. I built it mostly from maple with very little popular. The shelves were MDF with a maple cap. One thing the customer requested was fluting. I experimented with different amouts of flutes, but felt like 5 would be the best. The was three flutes in the center with two on the edges. I aligned the beginning and end of the flutes with the top and bottom face frame rails. Since I put flutes on the edge I had a problem with attaching the mid-rail on the face frame. I solved this problem by re-sawed the mid-rail of my face frame to about 1/2” so that it was set back behind the flute. I did the same with the adjustable shelves, which I trimed out with 1 ½” maple to give it more strength. By the way a cool little free online calculator that will measures the sag of shelves can be found at

It was finished using a medium sheen black lacquer, which was another problem that I had. I wanted a medium sheen but I could not find anyone that had it in stock. I ended up mixing a high-gloss with a flat. I really couldn’t predict what I would get, but it turned out with a perfect medium sheen that I was after. One thing that I considered was to spray it with any sheen and then clear coat it with a medium rubbed effect clear lacquer. I wonder if the sheen would have ended up with the sheen of the last coat. Has anyone done that and would it accomplish what I was trying to do (change the sheen). Please give me some feedback.

I have more picture of what I worked on this week along with a live video feed of our shop (during work hours) at

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

19 comments so far

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4200 days

#1 posted 07-08-2007 04:58 AM

Chris, this is a real handsome pair. I like the flutes which are not quite as easy as one would think. Just the slightes miss-spaced flute shows up. The finish is lovely.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4241 days

#2 posted 07-08-2007 05:07 AM

Really high-quality pieces. Don is right about the flutes and the finish.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Dano's profile


222 posts in 4055 days

#3 posted 07-08-2007 05:15 AM

Chris, Classic lines, they’ll remain is fashion forever!

-- Dan in Central Oklahoma, Able to turn good wood into saw dust in the blink of an eye!

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 4005 days

#4 posted 07-08-2007 05:17 AM

I do have a slight mis-spacing. I cut the flutes by cutting the center flute and the moving the fince to cut the next two on either side. If you think about it, if you are off 1/32 of an inch with the center, that will make the two sides off 1/16 from each other. It is compounded and you can see that every easy by just looking. I kind of fixed it by sanding a little to help them match.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4161 days

#5 posted 07-08-2007 05:27 AM

Chris -

These are very nice. I like the flawless finish! The flutes look great.


View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4349 days

#6 posted 07-08-2007 05:27 AM

they look fantastic. You did a great job. My sister wants me to build her a bookshelf for her house.

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4059 days

#7 posted 07-08-2007 06:16 AM

These are really nice. You did fantastic detail but tastefully. I find most bookcases busy with detail and I overcompensate with mine by understating them. These are really quite nice!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View TomFran's profile


2957 posts in 4017 days

#8 posted 07-08-2007 01:26 PM

These are beautiful bookcases!

I like the idea of using MDF for the shelves. That would save some $$$ and MDF is very flat and would take the finish nicely. I have never used it for shelves though, since I didn’t think it would have enough lateral strength to carry the books without sagging. I’ll have to check out the “sagulator” – thanks for the tip!

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 4005 days

#9 posted 07-08-2007 01:50 PM

I’ve never had any problems with using MDF especially when hardwood is applied to the front. In the quote I originally figured putting a back support on the shelf like I did on the front, but that would have been an overkill. The eye can see a deflection of 1/32 per foot. I have about a 2.5’ span on shelf. That would give me a little under .08 total allowable deflection. By putting in the size of the shelf and the weight (I figure 20lbs/foot) in the Sagulator I get a total sag of .07”. So I am good even without adding the hardwood trim of hardwood. One draw back to MDF is if dropped on the corner, it doesn’t hold up as good as other materials, but not a big risk on shelves that are not handled much.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4269 days

#10 posted 07-08-2007 07:37 PM

Very nice looking bookcases. Excellent woodworking job. jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4423 days

#11 posted 07-08-2007 07:45 PM

Great BookcasesChris. I like the flutes and the color. The picture seems to have a greenish tint. Is that a reflection off the wall?

-- 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 Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 4005 days

#12 posted 07-08-2007 07:54 PM

It is very hard to take a picture of black. You get a reflection off it real easy and can’t see any detail. I had to take it with the flash off and I alway turns out green. I usually fix it in Photoshop, but didn’t have time. Any know any secrets on taking pictures of black objects.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4183 days

#13 posted 07-08-2007 08:28 PM

stunning/ very elegant looking!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4019 days

#14 posted 07-08-2007 08:38 PM

These came out super!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View TomFran's profile


2957 posts in 4017 days

#15 posted 07-09-2007 02:15 PM

Chris, In regard to the maple cap you applied to the front of the shelves; how thick was it, and how did you attach it? Was it with biscuits / dowels or what?

-- Tom, Surfside Beach, SC - Romans 8:28

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