White Oak Bookcase - Nine Months In The Making

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Project by Retsof posted 01-19-2013 01:38 AM 3081 views 1 time favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Did you ever have one of those projects that you started fast on and then thought you might never get around to finishing? This was one of those for me.

I made this bookcase (my first) as a gift for my 12 year-old daughter who is a voracious reader. She requested that I build her a bookcase for her bedroom. We went through some design books and websites together and she picked out the style and wood that she wanted. I’m so proud that she had the good taste to pick Arts & Crafts style and white oak!

Originally, I was going to give it to her for her birthday last June, but it wasn’t finished in time, so she got an acoustic/electric ukulele instead. The Uke turned out to be a lot of fun, so she didn’t mind waiting for the bookcase while I worked on a bunch of other things.

I started this project in the last week of April 2012 and finally finished it today (January 18, 2013). Total building time really wasn’t that bad, maybe 30-36 hours or something like that. Now that I know what I’m doing, I think I could knock one of these out in a long weekend.

The bookcase is made of 3/4” white oak and 3/4” & 1/4” rift-sawn white oak plywood. I had wanted to make it out of quarter-sawn boards and quarter-sawn plywood, but I could not get the materials here in Las Vegas.


It is based on a plan from a Woodsmith book. I started by making a full-sized drawing of all of the detail pieces and a cut list. I like to make these on 1/4” MDF and cut out the parts for tracing.


Here’s a look at the panel that makes up the back of the bookcase.


The breadboard ends and corbels were another fun part of this project. I don’t own a band saw yet, so I roughed out the corbels with my jigsaw and sanded them to the final size with my oscillating spindle sander.


Here’s a side view (also showing that I need to get started on a lumber rack of some kind):


And finally, here’s a photo of the happy customer with her new White Oak Arts & Crafts Bookcase. She helped me put the first coat of Natural Danish Oil on it. I hope she’s willing to help me again when it’s time to move it into her bedroom because it weighs more than she does. :)


-- "There seems to be a black hole in my garage that swallows up pencils and tape measures as soon as I put them down."

9 comments so far

View BusterB's profile


1970 posts in 2208 days

#1 posted 01-19-2013 01:46 AM

Should be well seasoned….beautiful bookcase and something she will keep for a lifetme. Nice job

-- Buster, Ocoee TN (Critics are men who watch a battle from a high place then come down and shoot the survivors - Hemingway)

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30052 posts in 2537 days

#2 posted 01-19-2013 02:03 AM

Beautiful piece and a happy customer.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View a1Jim's profile


117328 posts in 3777 days

#3 posted 01-19-2013 02:27 AM

This is a great book shelf nice job.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2492 days

#4 posted 01-19-2013 02:49 AM

Very nicely done—great project. And, yes I’ve had and still have those projects. I think some of it is the nature of this hobby and some of it I place in the “life happens” category. You won this round, so congratulations!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3267 days

#5 posted 01-19-2013 03:28 PM

Very nice, great job!!

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View helluvawreck's profile


32087 posts in 3066 days

#6 posted 01-19-2013 06:27 PM

It turned out real nice. Way to go, Dad.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View grandpasworkshop's profile


344 posts in 3978 days

#7 posted 01-20-2013 07:01 AM

Very nice heirloom for her family

-- Grandpaj

View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3013 days

#8 posted 01-21-2013 05:48 PM

Nice bookcase, that is a real looker.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Retsof's profile


134 posts in 2435 days

#9 posted 02-09-2013 04:57 AM

Thank you all for your comments. I’m learning a lot in my first year on LJ. There is so much to be inspired by here.

I’ve checked out all of your projects and have a few thoughts to share.

@Monte Pitman Wow! Fancy wood for dog dish holders. No wonder they sell well for you. I love my dogs (two English Springers) too, but they are not getting a live edge beetle-kill pine dining table until I build one for myself first. :) I might build them one out of white oak soon. They like Arts & Crafts style.

@a1Jim Your “Roycroft Secretary” is on my to do list as soon as I can get my hands on enough quartersawn white oak (hard to come by in Las Vegas). Just curious, how many routers did you need to build that project? ;) I was laughing when I saw your post on your router collection. I think you own more routers than I have bits. I own two at the moment. A PC 7518 purchased with the intention of spinning big door panel bits (which I still have yet to attempt), and a PC 690 with standard and plunge bases for everything else. A small trim router may be joining my stable in the near future. I still need to finish building the fence for my router table so I can get the most out of my 7518.

@Helluvawreck I’m amazed by the number of hand tools you fit in your “Old Tool Box”. Touching story about building it with your son too. I spent many hours in the basement shop with my Dad. Many of the things I learned from him are paying off now 30-35 years later. I’m sure he has forgotten more about wood and tools over the years than I have time left to learn.

@Grandpasworkshop I would love to build myself a tool chest in the style of one of your steamer trunks. Is there a formula that you use to determine the bevel angle to cut on the pieces that make up your coopered lids?

@pintodeluxe Thanks! I had time to look through your projects today and it seems you have already built most of the Arts & Crafts projects that I had in mind to build for myself. I need to get started on some picture frames and I’m sure I’ll be checking your projects to make sure I’m doing it the right way.

Thanks for all the inspiration and ideas.



-- "There seems to be a black hole in my garage that swallows up pencils and tape measures as soon as I put them down."

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