Tansu inspired bookshelves

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Project by Hopdevil posted 01-31-2011 03:52 AM 3281 views 21 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This project is based on the article in the Feb/Mar 2009 Woodcraft by Matt Teague (Thanks Matt!). I did a prototype small section with the recessed panels, but SWMBO wanted it flush, so flush it is. I used walnut I had gotten through Craigs list and 3/4 baltic birch plywood. I used a lock miter router bit for the corners and the drawer. I knew there would be a lot of weight with the books and wanted the strength the lock joints would provide. The inlays are made from scraps of walnut. I used an 1/8 inch downcut router bit for the inlays. It is made of 2 large sections with adjustable shelves, 2 medium sections and 3 small sections. This is my first non-shop purposed project. Thanks for looking!

-- Buzz ---- Fare Thee Well!

18 comments so far

View Pawky's profile


278 posts in 2471 days

#1 posted 01-31-2011 04:26 AM

That turned out very nice. I especially like how the handle was incorporated into the design

View woodworkerscott's profile


361 posts in 2481 days

#2 posted 01-31-2011 04:29 AM

Nicely done. Cool design features. It shows good skills. Looks great with rest of decor. Thanks for posting. Added to fav’s.

-- " 'woodworker''s a good word, an honest word." - Sam Maloof

View Gary's profile


1235 posts in 3992 days

#3 posted 01-31-2011 04:33 AM

Good looking project.

-- Gary, Florida

View AaronK's profile


1465 posts in 3132 days

#4 posted 01-31-2011 05:14 AM

nice design.

with inlays like that, how do you cut the inlay? is it cut curved, or is it bent from a straight length of walnut? if its the second way, do you need to use multiple smaller pieces for the sharp curves?

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3767 days

#5 posted 01-31-2011 05:22 AM

I like the design of this project. The contrasting woods are nice and fit well in the house.

The handle is very cool and I love the inlay.

The project looks proper and right at home against the rise of the stairs.

Love it!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Robsshop's profile


903 posts in 2642 days

#6 posted 01-31-2011 05:26 AM

Buzz, this is an impressive build and I like the design elements as well. A modular design lends itself to adaptation and makes for a popular heirloom ! The cases are well crafted and the inlay work adds to its appeal . Great job on Your first “real” build, thanks for sharing !

-- Rob,Gaithersburg,MD,One mans trash is another mans wood shop treasure ! ;-)

View dorran's profile


140 posts in 2902 days

#7 posted 01-31-2011 06:32 AM

This is a great custom piece. I really like the contrasting wood and inlays.

-- Life is about choices. You can spend a lot of money on furniture and have really nice furniture; Or you can spend a lot on tools and have even more expensive, crappy furniture. I made my choice.

View cathyb's profile


767 posts in 2912 days

#8 posted 01-31-2011 08:13 AM

Pretty sweet! The base is nice and sturdy which visually provides a good balance and I am thrilled that you didn’t simply repeat the same design on all the side panels. Nice job, bravo….....

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Hopdevil's profile


211 posts in 2753 days

#9 posted 01-31-2011 05:51 PM

Thanks to all for your kind comments. I am quite proud of the way it turned out. @Aaron, the inlay is just from 1/8” wide straight strips of walnut. The groove I cut was about 3/16 deep so it held the walnut fairly well. I used a cheap plastic cutting board from Target to make the template for the curves, then used a trim router clamped onto the board. @Cathyb, thanks for noticing the non-repeating design. There are actually designs on one side or the other of each piece. There are about 4 that won’t be seen until the cabinets are re-configured into a different pattern.

-- Buzz ---- Fare Thee Well!

View PurpLev's profile


8525 posts in 3316 days

#10 posted 01-31-2011 06:06 PM

very nicely done! I was just thinking of doing something similar next to our stairs (although I doubt I’ll actually get to it) – just funny that you posted something similar.

just 1 small thing – If I’m not mistaken – the locking drawer joint should be reversed so that when the drawer front if pulled, it won’t get pulled out of the drawer side. :)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Hopdevil's profile


211 posts in 2753 days

#11 posted 01-31-2011 06:18 PM

@PurpLev (sheepish grin) Yeah good catch – my only saving grace is that the drawer is mostly decorative, thus hardly used and hopefully the glue should keep it from being an issue.

-- Buzz ---- Fare Thee Well!

View PurpLev's profile


8525 posts in 3316 days

#12 posted 01-31-2011 06:28 PM

heh, the persians used to intentionally make a fault when making rugs because they said that only god is allowed to be perfect… I like using that excuse over and over again myself.

What did you use for the felt? looks like it has some pattern on it – real nice stuff.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1089 posts in 3475 days

#13 posted 01-31-2011 08:05 PM

Inspirational! My next project will be very similar to your case work! Thanks.

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View Hopdevil's profile


211 posts in 2753 days

#14 posted 02-01-2011 04:35 AM

@PurpLev, my wife picked it out at a fabric store last fall. She doesn’t remember exactly, but thinks it might be brocaded suede.

-- Buzz ---- Fare Thee Well!

View RexMcKinnon's profile


2593 posts in 2863 days

#15 posted 02-01-2011 11:57 PM

Beautiful piece. One warning though… after a couple drinks you might try and walk up them and hit your head on the celing. LOL

-- If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!

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