Poplar Bookcases (conventional lumber)

  • Advertise with us
Project by SalvageCraft posted 02-28-2012 06:46 AM 3673 views 1 time favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I recently made a set of 2 matching bookcases for my stepmother’s new house. She wanted the design plain and simple, but with an arched top rail. I learned about this preference after I had assembled the sides. I thought over several ways of joining the rail without using any fasteners or resorting to simply butt jointing the rail to the shelf face, top, or sides.
I decided to mortise the ends of the rail into the sides of the cabinet. I wasn’t sure at first how this would look, but I really like how it showcases the joinery in the finished piece!

Here’s the tricky bit:
Since the mortises for the rail ends are so close to the end grain, some type of support was needed to keep the short fibers from splitting off with the waste wood. I have a c-clamp with flat steel stock welded on to each pad, and this works perfectly for holding those short bits in place while chopping out the mortise. If you don’t have a clamp like this, you can use some flat stock in the same way on a normal clamp or handscrew. Just be sure to spread the clamping pressure out over a large enough area that you don’t indent the surface of the wood!

I finished these with Minwax PolyOne urethane and stain in one with my new fangled HVLP sprayer. This was my first time using HVLP, and WOW am I impressed! I’ll never brush on poly again!

P.S. – The finish was still wet in that first pic. I’ll try to get a photo of the set once she’s got them set up in her new house.

Thanks for looking :)

-- Jesse --

22 comments so far

View stefang's profile


16144 posts in 3538 days

#1 posted 02-28-2012 10:32 AM

Good work Jesse! Nice design and it looks very professionally done.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2510 days

#2 posted 02-28-2012 11:45 AM

Nice bookcases, I’ll take 2, ha, ha :-)

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View boxcarmarty's profile


16747 posts in 2564 days

#3 posted 02-28-2012 12:00 PM

Nice bookcases Jesse. Glad to see you’re back in the shop after your nubby stump scare :-)

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View Don W's profile

Don W

19018 posts in 2772 days

#4 posted 02-28-2012 12:32 PM

very nice.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Roger's profile


20952 posts in 3008 days

#5 posted 02-28-2012 01:07 PM

real nice book case

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View millzit's profile


111 posts in 2507 days

#6 posted 02-28-2012 01:28 PM

i like!

-- cut that out!

View WoodSimplyMade's profile


188 posts in 3524 days

#7 posted 02-28-2012 01:29 PM

Great work Jesse. What kind of wood panel did you use for the back?

-- Mike, Florida,

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 2730 days

#8 posted 02-28-2012 01:50 PM

Thanks guys! The pack panel is actually maple veneered lauan plywood.

Also, @Millzit started an interesting thread on the definition of conventional lumber over here. I guess I’ve used a somewhat ambiguous term to describe that this was not made from reclaimed wood like most of my other work. Back to the dictionary!

-- Jesse --

View chopnhack's profile


375 posts in 2598 days

#9 posted 02-28-2012 02:02 PM

That case came out great! What color was the polyone? The color balance on the poplar is really even.

-- Sneaking up on the line....

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 2730 days

#10 posted 02-28-2012 02:06 PM

@chopnhack – I think it was a satin amber. I thinned it with about 10% mineral spirits before spraying, but I think I could have gotten away without thinning. The color balance is due mostly to the fact that I spent about an hour and a half picking out the most uniformly colored boards in the shop when I bought the lumber! Usually I go with striking grain patterns and contrasting colors, but that wouldn’t have fit with my step-mom’s decor.

You can definitely still see a bit of color variation though!

-- Jesse --

View ChrisK's profile


2014 posts in 3286 days

#11 posted 02-28-2012 02:09 PM

Very nice work.

-- Chris K

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 2730 days

#12 posted 02-28-2012 02:39 PM

Thanks Chris!

-- Jesse --

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3272 days

#13 posted 02-28-2012 03:01 PM

Well done, great job!!

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View Dave's profile


11429 posts in 3044 days

#14 posted 02-28-2012 03:30 PM

Alright Jesse. Nice case and thanks for the clamp tip. You the man.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are."

View Clayton Whisman's profile

Clayton Whisman

76 posts in 2487 days

#15 posted 02-28-2012 04:23 PM

Great Job, very nice work!

showing 1 through 15 of 22 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics