|Project by Alin Dobra||posted 12-16-2007 06:21 PM||3358 views||4 times favorited||18 comments|
My wife and mother in law were pushing me for some time to build a bookshelf in my son’s room. I previously build a bunk bed made from solid cherry (project http://lumberjocks.com/projects/2904) and the request was to make a cherry bookshelf at least as nice as the bed (to get rid of the ugly stuff in the room and to organize my son’s books and collection).
The requirements I come up with for this project were:
1. It has to be at least as nice as the bunk bed The last thing you want to hear from your wife (and worse from your mother in law) is that the new thing is nice but the old one was nicer (i.e. you either did not focus properly or you started to go down already).
2. It had to fit nicely with the bunk bed The bunk bed design is from Wood magazine (slightly modified). They do not have a bookshelf in that collection (I would not have liked it anyway) so I had to design the bookshelf myself. To ensure unity, I repeated some of the motifs on the bunk bed (the large ark with the inverted)
3. Use non-perfect lumber A friend of mine sold me about 200bf of oak and threw in quite some cherry. Most of this cherry was figured but had numerous worm holes. I really liked the cherry and wanted to use it for this project (wood with defects gives more character to the piece in my opinion). This, of course, introduces extra challenges since matching the pieces is even more difficult. The good news though was that all the boards were from the same tree.
4. Do some interesting spacing of shelves I’ve done some other bookshelves in the past and I selected the spacing to fit standard book sizes to maximize the number of books that can be fit (my wife has a lot of books). For this project I wanted an interesting spacing that fits books of all sizes but has a nice feel to it. Ideally I would have used the golden ratio (1.618) but that would have resulted in just 3-4 shelves with wild spacing. What I did instead in order to fit 8 shelves is to use the 4-th square of the golden ratio: (1.618)^(1/4)=1.128. This produces a very natural progression of the shelf heights.
5. Make a bookshelf that does not look like a box. I wanted to have as much air in the design and to use the wood minimally. Since cherry is strong, there is no concern that the sides are not strong enough unless they are solid. I also liked the idea of having a non-solid back and, if possible, resembling the bunk bed (i.e. have some panels and similar spacing).
6. Do as much matching as possible. I really like to match the wood pieces carefully since then I can clear coat the project and really highlight the wood. Any poor match makes the piece look “thrown together”. To this end, I used the same board for the top and bottom arches (I’ve done this for the bunk bed), I have book-matched the sides of all panels (spit the boards in two and edge glue them), and I used wood from the same tree.
What you see in the pictures is the solution I found to this design requirements. What I like the most is the figure on the back panels and the shelf spacing. Since the bookshelf is attached to the wall (the only screw in the construction) and the shelves are fixed, there is no danger for my 5 year old. The net result of this effort (a desk is coming as well in the next few months) is that his room looks by far the best among all the rooms in the house. He has now a place for all those woodturnings that the collected.
In terms of construction techniques, everything is based on mortise and tenon. The curves have been made using mdf templates, cutting within 1/16 at the bandsaw and then routing with a guide following the pattern. The finish is an oil based followed by sprayed shellac (gives it a nice luster).
-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida