Traditional glass-pane and
wood-muntin doors highlight this free-standing piece.
TEXT AND PHOTOS BY NEAL
As the saying goes, there's nothing like good books.
But they can present some storage problems--especially
if you like to keep them after you've read them.
Wall-mounted shelves are a common storage solution for
all this bound wisdom. But they're not easily portable
if you want to rearrange the furniture or if you're
moving to a new house. Because of this, modular
furniture units that combine storage for books with
audio and video equipment have become the sensible
solutions for most of us.
Unfortunately, many of these pieces can be a bit
overpowering, making you feel like you're in a NASA
control room instead of the comfort and privacy of your
own home. The bookcase we show here is meant to be a
tasteful alternative to these other approaches. Its
multipaned glass doors, exposed tenons and quarter-sawn
oak construction work together to create a sense of
seriousness and an air of solidity that are unusual
these days. This overall design is a synthesis of
several traditional Arts & Crafts pieces. But we did
scale down the size of the case slightly so it could be
easily placed in a family room, den, living room or
bedroom without dominating the space.
glue, 120- and 220-grit sandpaper, 0000 steel
wool, aniline stain, tung oil varnish, No. 0 and
No. 20 joining plates, 1-1/2" brass butt hinges,
magnetic door catches, brass shelf pins, No. 4
Case Joinery And Assembly Since most of the
case parts are all 11 to 12 in. wide, and quarter-sawn
stock is generally quite narrow, you'll have to glue up
panels for the case sides, partition, top, bottom and
shelves. Begin by ripping and crosscutting slightly
oversized boards for your glued-up panels. Edge-join the
mating boards, then lay out No. 20 joining plate slots,
6 to 8 in. on center, along the joints. Cut the slots
using a flat tabletop as the registration surface. Apply
glue to the slots, edges and plates and assemble each
panel, clamping the joints tight until the glue sets.
When all the panels are dry, rip and crosscut the parts
to finished size.
Lay out the arched cutout at the bottom and the
curved profile at the top front edge of each case side.
Use a sabre saw to make these cuts.
Mark the end limits of the rabbets on the case sides
that will house the back panel. Use a router with a
3/4-in.-dia. straight bit and an edge guide to make the
cuts. Square the ends of the rabbet with a chisel. Then,
use the same setup to cut the rabbet along the back edge
of the top shelf.
The through tenons that join the top and bottom
panels to the case sides are cut in several stages.
Begin by cutting a continuous tenon on the ends of the
top and bottom panels, using a dado blade in your table
saw. Use the same blade setup to cut the tenons on the
ends of the bottom front rail. You'll have to move the
stopblock for these rail cuts, since these tenons are
shorter than the through tenons.
Next, use a band saw to make the end cuts that define
the width of each tenon. Clamp a rip fence and stopblock
to the band saw table to make the repeat cuts. Then chop
out the waste between the through tenons with a sharp
Lay out the exact locations of the through mortises
on the case sides. A plunge router with an up-cut spiral
bit is the ideal tool for cutting these joints. And be
sure to use a straightedge, clamped to the case side, to
guide the router. Make the cuts in several passes and
finish each mortise by squaring the ends of the cut with
a sharp chisel.
Cut and joint stock for the sides, top,
bottom, partition and shelves. Then cut slots in
mating edges with a plate joiner.
Mark the cutouts at the bottom of both
sides and make the cuts with a sabre saw. Smooth the
cuts with a spokeshave.
Cut the rabbets for the back panel in
the case sides and top using a router with a
3/4-in.-dia. straight bit and edge guide.
Use a table saw with a dado blade
installed to make the tenon cuts on the ends of the
case bottom and top.
Use a band saw and stopblock to make the
shoulder cuts on the through tenons for the top and
Use a router and straightedge guide to cut the
mortises in the case sides for the bottom rail. Again,
square the mortise cuts with a sharp chisel. Test fit
all these joints, and when satisfied, use a chisel to
cut a 1/8-in. chamfer on the ends of each through tenon.
Lay out the locations of the plate slots for the
joints between the center partition and the top and
bottom panels. Then clamp a straightedge guide to the
panels to help position the plate joiner and cut the
slots. Next, lay out and cut the slots for the joint
between the bottom rail and the case bottom. Apply glue
to this joint and clamp the rail to the bottom.
Lay out the rounded profile at each end of the top
rail and use the sabre saw to make the cut. Cut a No. 0
joining plate slot in each end of the rail, and a
matching slot in each case side. Apply glue to the
bottom edge of the rail and clamp it along the back edge
of the case top.
Sand the top and bottom assemblies and the partition
with 120- and 220-grit paper, then dust them off
thoroughly. Next, apply glue to the plate slots and
plates and clamp the partition to the case top and
bottom. While the glue sets on this assembly, lay out
the hinge locations on the case sides. We used solid
brass 1-1/2 x 2-in. butt hinges, part No. 67H5, from
Whitechapel Ltd., Box 136, 3650 West Highway 22, Wilson,
WY 83014; 800-468-5534. Use a sharp knife to outline
each mortise. Then, make a series of parallel chisel
cuts 1/8 in. apart down the length of the mortise and
pare away the waste.
Apply glue sparingly to the mortise-and-tenon joints
and joining plate slots, then clamp the sides to the
top-partition-bottom assembly. Compare opposite diagonal
measurements to be sure that the case is square, adjust
the clamps if necessary and let the glue dry. Then, bore
a 3/8-in.-dia. dowel-pin hole into each through tenon
from the front edge of each case side. Apply glue to
these holes and tap in a white oak dowel to lock the
joints and provide a decorative accent. Finish the case
assembly by cutting a piece of 1/2-in.-thick white oak
plywood to size for the case back. Sand the panel smooth
with 220-grit sandpaper, then attach it to the case with
Use a chisel to remove waste between the
through tenons. Work from both sides of the board to
Cut the through tenon mortises in the
case sides using a router with an up-cut spiral bit.
Square the cuts with a chisel.
Cut plate slots in the case top and
bottom for the partition. Clamp a guide board in
place to align the plate joiner.
Join the bottom front rail to the case
bottom with joining plates and glue. Clamp together
until the glue sets.
Cut the top rail to size and shape and
cut a plate slot in each end. Apply glue and clamp
together until the glue sets.
Door Construction Mill 5/4 stock to
finished dimension for the door parts. Lay out the
mortise locations in the door stiles and at the center
of each door rail for the vertical muntins. Remove most
of the waste from each mortise by boring overlapping
holes using a drill press with a 3/8-in.-dia. bit. Use a
sharp chisel to square the ends and walls of each
Set up the table saw to cut the glass rabbet on door
parts. Cut the rabbets in two steps, making the first
cut, then readjusting the saw and fence to make the
perpendicular cut. Begin with door rails and stiles to
perfect your technique, then finish up with the smaller
Use a dado blade in the table saw to cut the tenons
on the rail and muntin ends. Cut the back side of each
tenon with one setup, then move the stopblock on the saw
table to make the face cuts.
Study the plan to understand the configuration of the
half lap joints at the intersection points of vertical
and horizontal muntins. Then, use a dado blade to cut
Test fit each joint and then apply glue and clamp the
muntin assembly together. Next, glue and clamp the top
and bottom rails to the vertical muntin and compare
diagonal measurements to ensure that the assembly is
square. To avoid a frantic glue-up process, join only
one stile at a time to the muntin-rail assembly.
Cut strips of stock to form the glass stops, then
crosscut them to size to fit around each pane of glass.
Test the fit of all stops, but do not fasten the glass
in place until after the doors are finished.
Check the fit of each door in its opening in the
bookcase, making sure that there is a uniform 1/16-in.
margin on all sides. Then scribe the hinge outline on
the door edge with a sharp knife, and cut the mortise
using a sharp chisel. Install the hinges and hang the
doors on the case. Install the pulls and magnetic
catches as shown on the plans. The pulls we chose are
part No. 106STH3 from Whitechapel, and the small
magnetic catches are a common hardware store item.
Cut the shelves to finished size and check for proper
fit. Then, remove the shelves, doors, stops and hardware
and finish sand all the pieces with 220-grit sandpaper.
Remove all the dust.
Finishing We used the finishing techniques
on the bookcase that we discussed in "Rocking Chair". When the finish is done,
install the glass panes in the doors and fasten the
stops with 5/8-in. No. 4 rh screws. Since the door pulls
we chose have an antique bronze finish, we wanted our
brass hinges to match. Whitechapel offers a solution
(part No. AS1) that darkens the finish on brass hinges.
Just be sure to carefully follow the application
instructions on the package--this solution is poisonous.
Use a sharp chisel to cut recesses in
the case sides for the flush-mounted hinges. Work
carefully for a precise fit.
To cut the door stile mortises, use a
drill press to bore overlapping holes. Then square
up the holes with a chisel.
Cut the rabbets for the door rails and
stiles on a table saw. Make the first cut on the
board edge and the second on the face.
Cut the muntin rabbets in two passes on
a table saw. Be sure to use a fingerboard and
pushstick to make the cuts.
Use a table saw and dado blade to cut
the half lap joints where the muntins cross. Check
the blade setup on scrap stock first.
Check the fit of each muntin half lap
joint before applying glue. Use a sharp chisel to
make any minor adjustments.
Glue the muntins together, then clamp
the door rails in place. Check for square by
comparing diagonal measurements.
Cut the glass stops to size and attach
with screws. Do not install the glass panes until
after the finish has been applied.