Window Seat Bookcase
Comments 4

Window Seat Bookcase: A Bump in the Road

BY THE TIME I AM FINISHED with this project, the better part of a year will have passed. A long time to spend on one project. Fortunately, I have had very few problems during all this time. I have some tear-out to deal with – ironically the smoothing of the legs caused tear-out. Also, with my prolific use of dowels I managed to screw up the location of one dowel hole (just one messed-up hole; that’s a woodworking miracle right there). I filled the bad hole with a dowel, trimmed it flush and the unsightly repair will be covered by one of the aprons. No big deal.

But this past weekend, a highly unexpected thing happened.

Before I get to that, a little update is in order. I have been working on the crest rail of the seat back. I made the decision to do this before fitting the bench seat, which I was hoping to do next. There is a long story as to why I am delaying the final fitting of the seat and it has to do with the fact that none of the bookcase is glued together. I felt uneasy about achieving the precision fit of the bench seat when so much of the bookcase is not locked down to its final, glued-up size.

So, I need to begin glue-up. To do that, I need to finish cutting the remaining parts. After I get the dowel joinery in place for the crest rail, I can then shape the rear legs. Adding the subtle curve to the rear legs is best done prior to glue-up. I told you this is a long story. After forming the curve to the rear legs, I’ll at least accomplish glue-up of certain sub-assemblies before fitting the bench seat. Whew. I can’t believe I got that story done in just two paragraphs.

Crest rail joinery.

Crest rail joinery.

Now, the unexpected event: When it came time to drill dowel holes into the ends of the left crest rail, I could not get an accurately drilled hole. I used dowel centers to transfer the hole locations from the rear legs to their mating parts; used a nail to create a starter hole at the exact point the dowel centers created. But without using a drill guide, getting a good, clean hole in cherry end grain proved to be futile. The first hole was off causing the left side of the crest rail to be mis-aligned with the rear leg.

I literally thought on this problem for a couple of days. A comment from a cry for help posted on the Modern Woodworker’s Association Google+ page lead to an idea.

Fitting the crest rail prior to drilling holes.

Fitting the crest rail prior to drilling holes.

The idea: use the holes already drilled in the rear legs as drilling guides for the holes needed in the crest rail. I did not like this idea really because the additional drilling action could easily cause the crisp holes to become sloppy.

I had to create a way to lock parts in place prior to drilling.

I had to create a way to lock parts in place prior to drilling.

Showing the dowel holes and the faint pencil line of the curve.

Showing the dowel holes and the faint pencil line of the curve.

Two completed dowel holes - note their off-center location.

Two completed dowel holes – note their off-center location.

But, that is what I did. I had to properly position the rear legs and crest rail on a flat surface and clamp them down. That is what you see above. It was still tough drilling; I had to sharpen my 3/8″ brad point bit with some sandpaper and a file. I’ve never sharpend a drill bit before. It helped a lot.

Note the parts have not been shaped yet. Better to do the joinery with straight surfaces vs. curved ones. Shaping the seat back and crest rail will begin soon. 🙂

Currently, with the crest rail and seat back in place.

Currently, with the crest rail and seat back in place.

I'm trying to get better color out of my camera. The cherry seems flat.

I’m trying to get better color out of my camera. The cherry seems flat.

The two pieces of wood sitting on the left and right sides of the seat are not installed. They will be added to the ends of the seat later.

On twitter, Shannon Rogers asked how I keep all these parts organized. I jokingly replied, “With a pencil.” This project has progressed so slowly that keeping the parts organized has not been a problem. The biggest organizational challenge so far has been keeping the construction sequence in proper order. Since I will begin glue-up soon, doing things like pre-finishing the numberous panels will be a consideration. Fixing some of the tear-out will be easier prior to glue-up than after. I think a check list is in order to make sure I take care of the little things before adding glue.

* * * * *

Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).

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


  1. Hey Jeff I wanted to ask a question about your color in sketch up. Do you import these colors or do you use textures? Is there a plug in for more colors in Make? On the comment for making the color pop on your photos there is a free program out there called Gimp that you could do some simple post production with. Messing with the contrast and vibrance should help and with your computer savyiness (word?) I am sure you could figure it out within minutes. Lighting is everything and maybe your white-balance is off a little on your camera. Can you adjust that in camera? If not then post would work well. Thanks buddy for the article I look forward to seeing the next installment! John at

    • I use textures. I look in the 3D Warehouse for wood textures used in other models. I think that is where I got this one. Also, I will do image searches. I found a really awesome tiger maple photo which is what I am using in this model.

      In this blog post, I played around with Photoshop to join two images and alter the color to get the “sketchy edges” on the model. I am just beginning to play around with styles.

      I use an automatic digital camera. Not sure how to white set it, but I am also learning Photoshop, pretty much the same way I learned SketchUp – trial and error. I am sure I can get the photo color I need, just haven’t clicked on the right setting yet. My sister is really good with Photoshop. I need to get her to give me a lesson. 🙂

      • Awesome, I am also messing with Photoshop. Add an adjustment layer then play with the levels and contrast and that should get you going. I use for help. It is subscription based but worth it.I also use Adobe’s site for help which has a ton of video tutorials that are great. Thanks Jeff.

  2. Love this! We just began creating the benchseat for under our bay windows today!

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