I get reader email from time to time. Most are questions concerning a woodworking plan, or the lack of a woodworking plan. For example, I have been asked more than once to make plans for either my router table or the miter saw stand I use.
But, the Scott Bookcase woodworking plan was the subject of the most recent email. Jeffrey T. asked this question…
I have been looking at many of the designs on your website. I have recently had a house built, and I would like to build the Scott bookcase for my office.
My office sits just off to the right of the entryway to the house. The entryway is an open 2-story foyer with oak steps and railing. The stairway borders the office, so the first 4-5 feet of my office wall is the staircase, so it is an open floor plan. We stained all of this ourselves with English Walnut stain (med. oak finish). I cannot find a bookcase that I like, so I want to build this one.
I would like the finish to be as close to the finish in my entryway as possible, but it would be really expensive to do the entire project out of oak. I would like to adjust the plans slightly to allow butting two of these bookcases together across my back wall. Are there areas of the project that I could use a different material to conserve cost and still match the oak in the house after staining?
The original Scott Bookcase was constructed using birch plywood, poplar, MDF and pine. Since the bookcase was painted white, I was able to mix materials which were best suited for the intended use. For example, I was able to use sheets of plywood for the backs. Plywood being solid creates lateral strength and is an easy way to keep the case from racking. Mixing materials also enabled me to control costs.
Jeffrey and I traded a couple of emails about ways to use oak as an accent wood. Transferring what I saw in my mind into an email can be difficult. Since I have the bookcase SketchUp model and a super good-looking red oak wood texture, I thought I would create images of what I envisioned.
It was commonplace for early American cupboards to combine paint and natural wood finishes. Some would have a painted case with a natural back (see some killer examples here). I have always wanted to make a case piece this way, but never have…
This is a good look and a back made of oak still allows for mixed materials for the rest of the case work.
This option uses oak as an accent for moldings…
The second image shows a paint color which complements red oak and is but one color of several that works well with oak.
In my mind, option two is the better option from a construction perspective. Finding enough long, straight oak boards which are flat would be a challenge. A back made from slats would need to be created to allow for seasonal wood movement. This means rabbet joints along the long edges of the slats is needed, or splines could be used. Jeffrey wouldn’t have to bother with all of this if plywood is used for the back as in option two.
The only challenge with option two would be to find oak crown molding. I have seen it at a local lumber yard, so hopefully other lumber yards carry such molding as well.
To Jeffrey T., I hope this helps. Building two of these bookcases is quite an undertaking. I hope you will send me photos of the finished project.
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You can view the Scott Bookcase woodworking plan by clicking here.
See how I built this bookcase by clicking here (all of these posts were imported from my old blog, and not all of them are formatted correctly).