Figured Walnut Bookcase

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Project by Konquest posted 04-12-2011 06:31 AM 4040 views 17 times favorited 23 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted to create bookcases (there is a twin to this one) for a commission that tied together traditional home office cabinetry with transitional decor in the rest of the house. To that end, I made a carcase out of walnut veneered ply, shelved dadoed into the sides, and edged with 1.5” wide solid edging with a cove profile. The frame and panel sides were applied over the carcase and routed flush to the face frame. The panels are my nicest figured walnut lumber, resawn and bookmatched. The top is 4/4 figured walnut glued up. I intentionally chose a piece to highlight the contrasting sapwood/heartwood, as opposed to trying to dye it.

The molding: I have been experimenting with making bandings lately using scraps of exotic woods from previous projects. I laminated a sandwich of alternating zebrawood, maple, walnut, koa, and bloodwood, then sliced it off in 1/8” end grain strips, which were then applied to an MDF substrate and edged in more walnut. I made a picture frame first using this technique as a way to practice for the bookcases.

The whole thing is finished with semi-gloss Arm-R-Seal. 5 coats on the top, 3 everywhere else.

Critique away!


-- 9 3/4 fingers remaining.

23 comments so far

View markedwardsims's profile


50 posts in 2660 days

#1 posted 04-12-2011 07:03 AM

Wow, this is beautiful work! The laminated moulding is a great way to use those expensive “scraps”, and it looks killer. Very nice.


View lanwater's profile


3111 posts in 2901 days

#2 posted 04-12-2011 07:35 AM

Very nice indeed!

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 2600 days

#3 posted 04-12-2011 08:32 AM

Beautiful! I love the trim. It adds a little pop to the beautiful Walnut! Nicely done!

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View saddletramp's profile


1180 posts in 2605 days

#4 posted 04-12-2011 12:05 PM

Love the bookcase style and the walnut. I like the trim stripe very much but I can’t say that I like it on that bookcase. It just seems out of place to me, but I’m a little weird so that’s just me. Very nice job and overall quite lovely.

-- ♫♪♪♫♫ Saddletramp, saddletramp, I'm as free as the breeze and I ride where I please, saddletramp ♪♪♪♫♪ ...... Bob W....NW Michigan (Traverse City area)

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3655 days

#5 posted 04-12-2011 12:26 PM

Being a Walnut junkie , I’d love to see this in person : )
The stripe is interesting and very creative , but , from the photos , I can’t say that it helps the piece.
Another reason to see it in person : )
Keep up the good work !!

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

View Spoontaneous's profile


1334 posts in 3296 days

#6 posted 04-12-2011 12:55 PM

I beg to differ. To my eye the ‘striping’ sets the piece off. In all but one of the photos, it looks to me like you made a perfect wood selection for that trim. If it was a bit bolder it would have killed the overall look. But, at least in the photos, you nailed it. The trim gives it just that little zing that makes it more interesting to the eye. Without the trim, it would have been a nice looking, finely crafted bookcase. With the trim, it is a stand out piece of furniture. JMHO

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2805 days

#7 posted 04-12-2011 01:59 PM

Unbelievably beautiful! And I agree – the trim is incredible. Love this piece.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Ryan Bruzan's profile

Ryan Bruzan

153 posts in 2862 days

#8 posted 04-12-2011 03:18 PM

I love it when I experiment with things trying to get a desired effect, but then ultimately coming to rest on a better result that would never have come to fruition without the experimentation process. Beautiful piece!

-- No matter how many factors go into thinking about a project, there is always one important new discovery to be made.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4185 days

#9 posted 04-12-2011 04:04 PM

That is some beautiful walnut. I love the overall design, and I vote with those who think the beautiful trim is a real asset to the piece.

My only critique, and this is just my preference: IMO, the grain on the back of a bookcase should always run in the same direction as the grain on the sides.

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

View HerbC's profile


1744 posts in 2826 days

#10 posted 04-12-2011 04:07 PM

I like it!

Each to their own but I think the trim banding adds to the beauty of the piece. Excellent selection of material for the panels and the top as well.

Keep up the great work.

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View driftwoodhunter's profile


273 posts in 2653 days

#11 posted 04-12-2011 04:51 PM

I love it, too – beautiful! The design of the bookcase is a great balance of solid, sturdy looks with flowing lines. The curve at the top, combined with the gorgeous trim you made, creates a focal point and leads the eye up. This is a favorite piece for me!

View dmoney's profile


191 posts in 3046 days

#12 posted 04-12-2011 04:57 PM

i love the trim.

-- Derek, Iowa

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3544 days

#13 posted 04-12-2011 05:03 PM

Unique crown details well done.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View BenR's profile


333 posts in 2595 days

#14 posted 04-12-2011 05:07 PM

Beautiful piece! You’ve transformed the utilitarian bookcase into an eye catching piece of furniture. The lightness of the sapwood on the edge of the top and the light stripes on the banding really set the piece off.
It draws the eye to the bookcase, and then the figure and frame/panel sides are revealed. Nice work.

-- Ben in Va

View darrensaathoff's profile


20 posts in 2571 days

#15 posted 04-12-2011 06:02 PM

Very nice! I like the extra detail at the top. My wife has been wanting me to make a book case also. I hope to start it soon . Thanks for sharing.

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