Book Bench #1: The Project & The Legs (profiles)

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Blog entry by spunwood posted 11-17-2010 07:31 PM 1188 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Book Bench series Part 2: Mortises, Tenons & a Finishing Fiasco »

The Project

In Mid/Late September a friend of ours mentioned to Stephanie that she was looking for something like a window seat with book shelves/storage…sans window. I jumped at the opportunity to try my hand.

I had a plan by William Draper, a PA craftsman from an August 1996 edition of American Woodworker, pg. 32 (off of google). I had been really wanting to try my hand at the bench. I loved the profile, the simple style, and the chance to hone basic skills such as mortise & tenon.

I wish I had some sugarpine, but the cheapest wood for the dimensions was the glued up stain grade pine at Lowes.

My question was how it would look with shelving and how comfortable it would be at 24” high. Our friend wanted the shelves to be at least 10” each and all very sturdy.

When I finally sawed the dado grooves, I ended up missing the shelf height by a 1/4” and 1/2” on each of the shelves due to poor measurement, but overall the design worked. But I was worried that I would have to sell this piece to someone else and start over, but our friend decided it would be just fine and really loved the style. I wasn’t sure it would work though, because she had chosen the shelf dimensions specifically to fit her books.

The Legs & Shelves

I followed Mr. Draper’s suggestion to use a pattern for the legs and I also routed a circle and star/cross pattern on the outside legs. It was difficult to get the pattern just right and then reproduce it on the four legs. It took me about a week and a half to get the legs close enough to one another (using a jig saw, coping saw, files, drawknife, sanders, and a razor blade). The plywood pattern had tear-out, the jigsaw cut on an angle when it was not supposed to, and though the coping saw and drawknife were the safest route, my hand skills are still quite wanting. There must be an easier way!

I leveled the tenon shoulders for the table top/mortises, and made the sweeping profiles and ½ circle cutouts similar. Then I did the dados for the shelves with a regular table saw blade (I wish I had made them stopped dados). This is what I had after input from a fellow lumberjock about adding a crossbeam for support:

As you can see in the pictures, there are 8 tenons awaiting the mortises in the top of the bench. Only two tenons would survive the design process. Find out more as you read the next entry of this blog.

The Back

A side



Zoom in of repair of mistakenly cut dado

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

4 comments so far

View Scott R. Turner's profile

Scott R. Turner

267 posts in 3241 days

#1 posted 11-17-2010 07:38 PM

I have the same problem using the jigsaw. Even trying to follow a straight line seems impossible without an unacceptable amount of deflection. I wonder if there’s some technique that I just don’t know.

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2888 days

#2 posted 11-17-2010 07:42 PM

I’m using a cheap skil jigsaw, but i have heard the bosch is pretty good.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View Cheyenne's profile


110 posts in 2919 days

#3 posted 11-17-2010 07:53 PM

Once you make a perfect pattern trace that onto another piece of wood and use the jigsaw to cut about 1/4” outside of your line then ditch the jigsaw. Clamp your pattern on top of the rough cut piece and use a top bearing flush trim bit in your router and all pieces will come exactly like your pattern. The flush trim bit won’t get into some of those tight turns but it’ll be easier to clean those out than the entire piece. That’s how I made the legs on the dresser and crib. Hope thyou and Stephanie are doing well.

-- Cheyenne - Nashville,TN

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 2888 days

#4 posted 11-18-2010 02:51 AM

That sounds good Cheyenne. We’re doing well here. Beatrice is about to walk. Stephanie is healthy and the boy is still sword fighting.

-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

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