Child's Bookcase

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Project by Matt posted 06-13-2008 04:52 AM 3990 views 1 time favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi everyone!! It’s been a long time since I’ve done anything here at LJ. So since quite a few of you begged and pleaded with me to share what I’ve been doing lately…O.K. actually there was like one, maybe two of you that said hi and asked how I was doing…and never really did any kind of begging, but it really did feel like all of you were writing.

So this latest project is child’s bookcase…hence the name! I’m not very creative at stuff like catchy titles. A good friend of the family approached me about building a bookcase for his young daughter. He wanted something that looked different than the straight old, plain looking bookcases they were finding everywhere.

The profile of the bookcase has a slight angle starting about 3 inches up from the bottom and has the two fixed shelves. The entire project is made from red oak. The sides and top are all from the same board, although the sides did have to be glued up to the proper width at the bottom.

I wanted the back to match the rest of the project and even though it’ll be hidden by all the books I wanted something more than just a flat plywood panel. I chose to resaw some of the red oak and then applied a chamfer on each edge. By cutting a half-lap, I was able to assemble a great looking solid wood back that I think works for the design.

You’ve probably noticed the half-blind dovetails that join the top to the sides. I don’t own a dovetail jig, anymore, so they’re all cut by hand. Glad I took that class with Christopher Schwarz!!

Since the bookcase is meant for a small child, I wanted a safe finish for her…just in case she decides to gnaw on it someday. While a totally cured poly would have been fine, I chose to use Amber Shellac. Alright, I also chose the shellac because it dries fast too, but that’s between you and me alright??

If you’re interested in seeing me build the project, I’ve documented the project for my show and I’ve started releasing the videos on Wednesdays. As of this posting I’ve posted to videos, but by the time they’re all up it’ll cover the entire project from design to finish. Thanks for checking this out and thanks for remembering me here at LJ!!

-- Straight grains & sharp blades

13 comments so far

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3793 days

#1 posted 06-13-2008 12:15 PM

looking good matt! i just watched your video yesterday. thanks for the post.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3698 days

#2 posted 06-13-2008 01:47 PM

Thats a nice looking bookcase.

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3792 days

#3 posted 06-13-2008 02:04 PM

Great bookcase. Thank you for sharing.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 3757 days

#4 posted 06-13-2008 02:05 PM

Great looking case! Nice to see ‘The Schwarz’ course results!

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

View Hutch's profile


106 posts in 3922 days

#5 posted 06-13-2008 02:49 PM

Nice job Matt. I am enjoying the progress on the MBW Podcast and now we see the finished project. Good choice on the half blind dovetails and the back panel.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4243 days

#6 posted 06-13-2008 04:15 PM

Very nice work.

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

View Matt's profile


119 posts in 4441 days

#7 posted 06-13-2008 09:55 PM

Thanks for the comments everyone. I really enjoyed working on this project, and between the reaction of our friend when he came to pick it up and the comments by all of you…I’m enjoying it even more!!

-- Straight grains & sharp blades

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4271 days

#8 posted 06-13-2008 10:51 PM

Nice design and stain. Overall nice looking bookcase. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Matt's profile


119 posts in 4441 days

#9 posted 06-13-2008 10:55 PM

Thank you! I chose the amber shellac over blonde, because this piece was meant to fit in with an existing table and chair set in the room. The table and chairs had a little orangish/reddish patina, so this matched almost perfectly.

-- Straight grains & sharp blades

View drumpriest's profile


9 posts in 3800 days

#10 posted 06-17-2008 08:52 AM

Very nice Matt, simple elegant design and I like the use of dovetails. I wonder how that shellac will hold up over time. I’ve recently moved to Ultima Spray Laquer over water born shellac for the very reasons you’ve stated. It’s a pretty darn safe finish, environmentally sound, and dries super fast.

I’m going to go check out your videos on this one, well executed.

-- Keith Z. Leonard, drums first, wood second....

View Matt's profile


119 posts in 4441 days

#11 posted 06-17-2008 08:59 PM

Thank you Keith! I’ll have to give the Laquer you mentioned a looking over. I imagine in a few years the shellac will have taken a beating, so who knows I just might get a second chance LOL!!

Thanks again.

-- Straight grains & sharp blades

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3948 days

#12 posted 06-28-2008 03:27 AM

Sweet. Nice job Matt.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3698 days

#13 posted 08-26-2008 12:25 AM

Thats a nice bookcase, Matt.

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