Cow Bookcase - Mooj to you

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Project by vipond33 posted 07-31-2011 04:32 AM 3967 views 12 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

We were scrolling through Google images one sunny day in May, sweetcheeks and I, looking for inspiration in a bookcase design. Kids books seem to multiply like mushrooms in our house. We were suddenly stopped, arrested might be a better word, by a design from a South Africa firm for what they called the Mooj bookcase.
It was a cow, it was huge, the size of an upright piano or a real cow for that matter, but my little one solemnly and imperiously said “make it Dad”, so how could I refuse? I scaled it down laboriously from the photo and then drew a full size plan on MDF. The metric system is useful here.

It was built from a single long thick board of Canadian white ash, resawn, book matched and folded where possible. The tail piece was especially perfect. As you might notice, compared to the original, I eliminated one divider, added another to make it better suited to smaller items and gave it feet for floor use. She can have it beside her favourite chair later in life, rest a drink on its back and pat the head whenever she reads about a farm. It is wall mounted on a French cleat at the moment. Yes that is wood in the bedroom.

We painted it black and white to honour the Holstein cow that we enjoy the gift of every day and its overall dimensions are 120 cm wide, 80 cm high and 18 cm deep. It was a difficult assembly so I did it in sub modules laid right on the pattern and I also knew it would be a chore to finish with all the inside corners and angles, so I first prefinished the long lengths with Minwax Tung Oil. This product, to the best of my knowledge, contains no tung oil at all but is a superb wiping varnish. Padded on and cut back with a razor sharp card scraper, it develops a high gloss ultra hard surface after four coats. Then cut carefully with newly sharpened blades and the scoring saw at work it needed no touch-up at the joints.

The final step was to research literally dozens of cow photos to figure out how best to paint it while imagining through the voids. We sketched out a design right on the raw edges and then used archive quality artist’s acrylic paint, top-coated with an artist’s water white varnish meant for the same. After it was hung I wrote a note to the designers, included pictures and asked for their forbearance, noting that I would never do it again. They were not upset but tickled rather and sent a nice greeting to my girl as you can see.

On a final note, clarity and brilliance are important to me in the final look of a piece so this is one of a series of things that I have built where there is no sanding done other than a few edges and corners. I would much rather have the occasional plane mark or slight tear-out (imperceptible in a clear finish) than the muddiness that sanding produces. Build on LJ’s.


-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

5 comments so far

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3013 days

#1 posted 07-31-2011 04:50 AM

Wonderful gift for your daughter! I like it as I grew up on a farm and thought this was a very cool idea.

By the way Welcome to LJ.

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Scott Oldre's profile

Scott Oldre

1049 posts in 3426 days

#2 posted 07-31-2011 02:32 PM

What did you use to reinforce the mitered joints? Like it a lot and might try something like this with a different animal.


-- Scott, Irmo SC

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3045 days

#3 posted 08-05-2011 03:36 PM


This is just plain fun! I appreciate you taking the time to give us all the details, something you obviously care about. What a great project to collaborate on with your daughter.

I’m also a little late in welcoming you to LJs, but better late, than never, so welcome to LumberJocks!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2688 days

#4 posted 08-08-2011 05:06 PM

Very, very cool.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3084 days

#5 posted 08-28-2011 12:35 PM

What a wonderful bookcase, and what a wonderful proud smile of her.
You have a lucky daughter!
The TV on top is just wonderful too.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

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