Window Seat Bookcase
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Window Seat Bookcase: Building the Sides and Dividers, Part 2

In grade school I was taught the four season of the year: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. The other Sunday, the pastor of our church more correctly named off the seasons in Alabama: Light Winter, Early Summer, Mid-Summer and Late Summer.

Mid-Summer is here. I was reminded of the effect of our heat and thick humidity this week while planing a board in my basement workshop. As I worked my hand plane, a bead of sweat fell from my head onto my workbench. Have you ever had sweat fall on a prized piece of lumber or your tools? I use a box fan in my shop, but I do so reluctantly since wood dust gets spread over a larger area. It’s all part of the fun of woodworking during the hot summer months.

*****

I left off last time with the frames for the sides and dividers mostly completed. Before I can call them finished, I will need to rout a slot in each leg and then later in the project, I’ll add a nice curve to the upper rear legs.

MAKING PANELS
The first step in making the panels is obtaining a flat edge on some leftover cherry. In my last post, I mentioned my Josh Finn style workbench. This workbench is basically two box beams which sit atop modified sawhorses. There is no vise mounted to it, but the flexible nature of the Josh Finn bench allows me the ability to clamp a board in a suitable position for passes with a hand plane…

Jointing on the Josh Finn workbench.

Jointing on the Josh Finn workbench.

It was a coincidence that I saw a somewhat similar method at the very cool Scandinavian blog “Hyvelbenk”. In a blog post, a board is clamped to a workbench of very historic design by simply using two holdfasts. Is it possible to do serious woodworking without a bench vise? Hummm… To see what I am talking about go here and here.

Next I cut the cherry board into the panels needed; over-sized for now (some of them are seen in the photo at the top of the post). Each panel will be 3/8 inch thick, so I resaw each panel to rough thickness.

Re-sawing at the table saw.

Resawing at the table saw.

Next is clean-up at the planer.

Next is clean-up at the planer.

I use my planer to clean up the panels.

No dust collection means a big mess to clean up.

After some quick sanding.

After some quick sanding.

These slender panels then are run through my thickness planer which removes the nasty marks from the resawing operation and brings the thickness down to 3/8 inch. I also touch them up with my sander.

MORE FABRICATION FOR THE LEGS
With the panels mostly complete, I need to make one last cut to the legs. Each leg needs a slot which the panels slip into. I decided to created these slots using my router equipped with an edge guide. I’ll bet I have owned my DW621 plunge router for more than 10 years and I have never taken the time to buy an edge guide. I finally purchased one, feeling fortunate they are still available after all this time.

Click to enlarge and note the slot in the leg. The edge guide enables me to zero in on the exact size needed.

Click to enlarge and note the slot in the leg. The edge guide enables me to zero in on the exact size needed.

Squared up slots ready for panels.

Squared up slots ready for panels.

Making final adjustments on panels for a good fit.

Making final adjustments on panels for a good fit.

The router/edge guide method worked really well. The super important thing to keep in mind is to keep firm pressure on the router. Changes in grain or more casual force against the wood can cause an irregular cut. I wanted a gap free slot and I achieved that on all but one or two legs.

Once the slots were cut, I used my #4 bench plane to make fine adjustments where the slots were not uniform. I cut the various parts of the frame over a period of about three weeks and they are not all identical. A recently sharpened blade in my plane and some fine grit sandpaper made fitting the panels trouble-free.

The sides and interior dividers mostly completed.

The sides and interior dividers mostly completed.

A close-up of the panels showing the nice grain.

A close-up of the panels showing the nice grain.

A NEW PHASE OF THE PROJECT
The next part of construction will be bringing the sides and dividers together to form one piece of furniture. To accomplish this, I’ll begin fabricating cross members, some of which have a long sweeping curve. I anticipate this being an especially fun part of the project because the bookcase will begin to take on its final shape.

For now, I need to buy some more cherry and build a new pattern routing jig following one shown in Fine Woodworking magazine, #214, August, 2014. I can make most of it using scrap lumber and it will be a much more safe way to create curves than the method I have already used while building this bookcase.

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During the week, I sell carpet and rugs for The Dixie Group. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.

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