Window Seat Bookcase
Comments 14

Window Seat Bookcase: Creating the Seat, Part Two

So there is some cool stuff going on in the workshop. The construction of this bookcase is entering its final stages and I am getting excited. This excitement is being tempered a little because making the seat top will be tricky business. The top fits flush with the sides and to get a perfect fit will take skill. So I am progressing carefully as seat takes shape. An overview of the seat design is shown here. In addition to the seat back and arms, I need to glue-up two boards to form the seat itself and that’s what I’ll talk about today.

My plan is to get all the parts for the seat cut to rough size first, add joinery and then get a final fit. After another visit to the lumber store, I picked up a 8.5′ long, full 1 x 6.5″ cherry board.

My miter saw enabled me to quickly cut this board into two pieces; both a little more than four feet long. I bought my jointer plane for situations where I need a flat edge on longer boards. I no longer trust my powered jointer with boards like these, and I need the practice with my jointer plane.

The two cherry boards which will become the seat.

The two cherry boards which will become the seat.

My big jointer plane with its new fence.

My big jointer plane with its new fence.

I have been having trouble getting a straight edge on boards which are square to the board’s face. My efforts have led to mostly straight boards, but with a bevel. I bought a fence for my jointer plane which will help me get a flat and square edge. The fence makes my already heavy jointer plane even heavier.

A first for me, edge planing two boards at one time.

A first for me, edge planing two boards at one time.

My smoother was behaving particularly well.

My smoother was behaving particularly well.

The last time in the workshop, it was all about using power tools. This time my hand planes saw a lot of action: using my jointer plane to get a straight edge and my smoother to get a flat surface. I do not have a jack plane, but I can see one in my future. My planes were especially cooperative during this step. I had a good edge on my plane blades and they were adjusted well – I was in a zone; it was one of those rewarding woodworking moments. Hope that doesn’t sound geeky.

I did use a couple of power tools, one being my biscuit jointer – those are #20 biscuits below…

Cutting biscuit slots prior to glue-up.

Cutting biscuit slots prior to glue-up.

A dry run fitting the biscuits into the seat.

A dry run fitting the biscuits into the seat.

The two boards which will form the seat glued-up.

The two boards which will form the seat glued-up.

After a little touch up work.

After a little touch up work.

Sort of like what the seat will look like.

Sort of like what the seat will look like.

The glue-up went great. The biscuits helped even out a slight bow in one of the two boards. I give the joint between the two boards an A; there is a very slight, very short gap which I hope to touch up later and the top needed only minor hand plane touch up, sanding, etc.

The last photo shows the seat sort of in the correct position with the perimeter boards out of position, so you’ll have to trust me that everything is coming together just fine.

This means there will be at least a part three in this little series on making the seat. Everything is still cut to rough size, which means cutting to final size begins next; and joinery and fitting. Hopefully a low stress process, but I don’t know…

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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.

14 Comments

  1. The work looks really great! As does the material you are using. I have to say, your Woodcraft has a pretty nice lumber area. My local Woodcraft, while having a decent selection, has a lumber area of less than half the size.
    Bill

    • Thanks Bill, my planes were working great and I did not take the time to sharpen them before use. The image of Woodcraft does not show the opposite wall which has even more lumber species with small blanks for turning in the center of the room.

      • The local Woodcraft does have a very nice selection of turning blanks, and blocks of many different species. They just don’t have a very big selection of full size boards. Every time I go in there I look at the veneer. I’ve always wanted to try some real veneer work. Like many things, it’s on the list.
        Bill

      • I’ve done veneer once before; the adhesive backed kind. It was only moderately successful. Some edges did not stick real good. It was fun though. I think you should give it a try.

  2. It sounds like the biscuit joints helped with a bowing issue. Other than that, do you think they were necessary? For that width, would a spring joint of been fine?

  3. Looking great! We will be adding a bay window bench to our historic home in the near future!!!
    811southern.wordpress.com

  4. I probably stared at the Woodcraft lumber picture longer than is healthy. And I still like the bottom curve on the bench.

  5. I don’t think _being in the zone_ sounds geeky at all. I know exactly what you’re talking about … sometimes things just go super smoothly and you feel like, “wow, I’m pretty good at this!” Of course, that’s offset on those days where nothing goes right. For instance, I recently laminated a bunch of walnut together. I’ve never worked with walnut before, but I am making a simple piano bench for my wife. Anyhoo, I don’t have a jointer, so instead I attached a long aluminum straight-edge to my plank and trimmed off the edge with my tablesaw, then I cut the plank into 2″ strips at about 38″ long (final length will be 36″ by 12″ wide). I used my thickness planer on the edges, and then glued ’em up. So far so good, only slight misalignments here and there. Then I took my new laminated plank and tried to use my smoothing plane on it. Well! Let me tell you … walnut has serious tear-out issues. It turns out that some of my strips went in in the opposite direction from the rest – so most of the strips planed nicely from left-to-right, but then I’d hit the opposite grain and WHAMMO … skidding, chugging, tearing out of chunks. Ugh. So then I think to myself, I’ll adjust the plane to just take the tiniest amount, and I’ll use the other side of the plank as the top. Epic fail. My plane just would not hold that small of a bite, and I ended up tearing out a bit on that side, too.

    So here’s what my solution is (I am still working on it): I have some extra blades for my thickness planer, so I took one and ran it across my honing stone to put the slightest hook into the blade, and I am using that as an aggressive cabinet scraper. It’s doing the trick, but it’s a slow process. Patience is key!

    • Michael – the legs of this bookcase have some significant tear-out. Done by my low angle jointer plane. So, I’m not sure if a super, super sharp blade would fix that or if I need to go with a high angle plane when I suspect tear-out. I have a card scraper which I can never seem to get a good hook on. I guess I need to get good with sharpening my card scraper since it is such a simple tool to use. Good luck with the walnut. 🙂

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