Window Seat Bookcase
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Window Seat Bookcase: Adding the Lower Shelf

Using my table saw as a work surface.

Using my table saw as a work surface.

I have this trait; I’m not sure, but it may be a character flaw. I can make things more complicated than they need be. Case in point: the lower shelf of the window seat bookcase I am building.

Some of the complication comes from the lack of cherry plywood in my area; not my fault at all. Cherry plywood exists for the professional – there are two plywood dealers in the Birmingham, Alabama area, but they do not sell to the weekend woodworker. So instead of simply cutting some lower shelves from nice plywood, I decided to add a process that involved fabricating 27 parts, plus one or two more due to errors.

But first, lets look at the game plan for this step in construction. Click the images for a larger view…

An exploded view of the lower shelf; five components.

An exploded view of the lower shelf; five components.

Showing the cleats which support the lower shelves.

Showing the cleats which support the lower shelves.

A close-up of the lower shelf cleats.

A close-up of the lower shelf cleats.

Each lower shelf has five parts; there are three shelves – 15 parts to create. The cleats which form the frame on which the lower shelf will rest contain a total of 12 parts; grand total 27 components. Seems complicated to me. 🙂

CONSTRUCTION
The first step was to cut the one inch thick planks of cherry into 3/8 inch thick slats (see the cherry pre-transformation here). I could have left one inch boards at this same basic thickness, but that is pretty thick and by splitting the boards in half, I got twice as much material.

I used the same process as described in this blog post to bring the boards down to a 3/8 thickness which lead to this…

One of three lower shelves fitted with splines.

One of three lower shelves fitted with splines.

You can see above the three slats joined with splines (I had to hand plane the splines to ensure a snug fit).

With the shelves more or less at final thickness, I was then able to determine the offset for the cleats which support the shelves. Since the shelves are 3/8 inch thick, the cleats need to be 3/8 inch lower than the top of the stretchers.

A cleat attached to a stretcher.

A cleat attached to a stretcher.

I use spring clamps to hold additional cleats while adding screws.

I use spring clamps to hold additional cleats while adding screws.

More cleats held in place by screws.

More cleats held in place by screws.

The screws and washers used to secure the cleats were selected so I could make the cleats adjustable. I drilled larger screw holes in the cleats so they can move up and down as well as left and right. I can then zero in the correct position and later use glue along with the screws/washers for a permanent connection.

FITTING THE SHELVES
At this point, the shelf slats are larger than need be. The next step is to cut them to final length and width. I also need to carefully cut out a notch at each shelf corner to fit around the legs. To get an exact fit, I simply nibble away the wood until the fit is just about perfect.

After careful trimming and fitting.

After careful trimming and fitting.

A little sanding on the shelf surfaces and it is time to call the lower shelf finished.

Lower shelf and supporting cleats.

Lower shelf and supporting cleats.

Lower shelves in place.

Lower shelves in place.

Note the subtle curve of the stretchers.

Note the subtle curve on the stretchers.

.
NEXT UP FOR CONSTRUCTION
I had planned on adding the back next which would be another complicated step in the project. But adding the middle shelves will be more fun and will help the project attain some of its final look a little faster.

The middle shelves highlighted in blue are next.

The middle shelves highlighted in blue are next.

So the middle shelves are officially on the schedule next. The only thing I have not completely worked out is the shelf supports. I want the shelves to be adjustable, so I will need to either drill shelf pin holes or come up with some other support method.

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This entry was posted in: Window Seat 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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