Custom Maple Bookcase

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Project by Safetyboy posted 05-01-2008 04:02 AM 3517 views 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I built this bookshelf for my son for his room – kind of a hodgepodge design – I put a little drawer on the bottom for his “treasures”, doors to hide the cutter, and an open top for “display”.

I tried to make the style in line with his existing furniture (the chest on the left), and the finish to match it. I got pretty close, but I think I needed more red in it somehow. It’s hard when one is under the flourescent lights in my shop, and the other is more natural light in the room.


Lot’s of firsts on this project for me:
+ First time milling all the rough lumber
+ First time gluing up panels
+ First all solid wood project (‘cept for the plywood door panels)
+ First time trying to match an existing piece
+ First time using dye stain


Wood is soft maple, finish is water-based dye stain (Transtint dark mission brown), 2 sealer coats of shellac, & a bunch of wipe-on poly (satin).

I’m not sure I like working with the dye-stain – it’s tricky to use because it soaks in so fast, unlike oil stains.. it’s easy to get caught putting too much on…

-- -- Kevin in Mentor, Ohio

8 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4219 days

#1 posted 05-01-2008 04:39 AM

Really nice piece. I like the design. And the fact that it includes all those “firsts” makes it even more impressive.

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

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3989 days

#2 posted 05-01-2008 06:27 AM

The trick to using dyes (it’s not a stain) is that since you mix it yourself you start off with a little dye at a time.
Test it on sample pieces. If it’s too light add more. If it’s too dark add more water (for water based dyes)

You can also sand it to lighted it to the point it’s not there anymore.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3823 days

#3 posted 05-01-2008 11:29 AM


This is a nice piece and it looks as if you did a pretty good match on the colors. There is always going to be some variation simply due to the age difference between the pieces. You did a good job on the construction and design as well.

Thanks for sharing.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Bradford's profile


1434 posts in 3823 days

#4 posted 05-01-2008 12:55 PM

POW! right in your face grain. That grain, oh that grain on my brain. I guess my coffee just kicked in as soon as I saw that color and look to this project. I’m always amazed by the talent of the LJ’s here. But wow, come on, warn a guy will ya? I need to put on sunglasses after this one. Excellent camera skills also. Thank you for the wood-blindness. (Anybody know a good eye Dr.?)

-- so much wood, so little time. Bradford. Wood-a-holics unanimous president

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3674 days

#5 posted 12-13-2008 06:43 PM

Thats a nice maple bookcase.

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3465 days

#6 posted 02-21-2009 09:26 PM

i like the design – im surprised something like this doesnt have a name, since it’s so useful. I mean, you could put something like this in any room and it would be appropriate.

i was wondering – what sort of joinery did you use for it? how did you find working with soft maple, and how thick is the ply for the doors?

also, nice work on the matching chest. sweet.

View Safetyboy's profile


119 posts in 3760 days

#7 posted 02-22-2009 02:14 AM

Thanks for the comments Aaron. The joinery is mostly 1/2” dados & grooves, with a 1/8” cut off of each side of the mating piece to fit in the dado (I think this technically a “step dado”?). The shelves join to the sides this way… and the sides join to the top in the same way.. and also the bottom kickplate joins to the sides this way.

The doors are simple “cope & stick” joints, with 1/4” (birch) plywood for the panel… it works okay, and is sturdy enough for these small doors, but if I did it again I think I would do it all with solid wood, ‘cause it just looks better.

I liked working with soft maple – not as splintery as red oak is sometimes, but it works and sands well. And plus you get the nice tiger grain. If I’m staining the piece I would use soft maple every time – much cheaper than hard maple.

-- -- Kevin in Mentor, Ohio

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3465 days

#8 posted 02-23-2009 04:08 PM

thanks for the info kevin. again, looks great.

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