Low Bookcase 033114b

Window Seat Bookcase: Building the Sides and Dividers, Part 1

I am finally making good progress on my daughter’s window seat bookcase. I am still working longer hours at my new job which means forcing myself into the workshop in the evenings; longer periods of workshop time during the weekend.

I see this project being built this way: the sides and interior dividers first, then add the cross members which will give the bookcase its overall shape. Then add the horizontal surfaces. I will wait to begin glue-up of the various parts until later in the construction process. Also, shaping the crest rail will come later.

In my last post on this project, I had the legs cut to final size. The next task is to create the bookcase sides and interior dividers (shown in blue above). I began forming the upper and lower side rails. The legs will connect to these components and the sides will quickly begin to take shape.

The main joinery technique I will use is dowels; very old school. The dowel joint long ago fell out of fashion, but it is simple to create and should be plenty strong for this project.

Proposed joinery for the sides.
Proposed joinery for the sides.

MAKING THE SIDE RAILS
I had contemplated cutting the curve needed for the lower side rail with my bandsaw. I would then purchase my first nice rasp to smooth the cut. While I’d like to begin a collection of nice rasps, I decided I could create a smooth cut with my existing tools. I made a template, rough cut the curve on my bandsaw and then cut to the final line by way of template routing.

Note how I am using the wooden handscrew clamp in the image below. I do not have a vise on my Josh Finn style workbench. This is how Josh does it and it works pretty good.

Using the SketchUp print to form the MDF template.
Using the SketchUp print to form the MDF template.
I cut away the bulk of the waste at the bandsaw. The template is attached with double face tape and the curve is cleaned up at the router table.
I cut away the bulk of the waste at the bandsaw. The template is attached with double face tape and the curve is cleaned up at the router table.
Separating the lower rail away from the upper rail. This ensures the rails are the same length.
Separating the lower rail away from the upper rail. This ensures the rails are the exact same length.
I use my table saw to create slots for the side panels.
I use my table saw to create slots for the side panels.
I cut a slot along the inner edge of the rails. Using a jig, holes are drilled for dowels.
Using a jig, holes are drilled for dowels.
I drill corresponding holes in the legs. After a lot of fine tuning, I get the left side frame completed.
I drill corresponding holes in the legs. After a lot of fine tuning, I get the left side frame completed.
The frames for the sides and the dividers.
The frames for the sides and the dividers.

I got in a lot of woodworking this weekend and this is where I am calling it quits for the day. The only issue I have run into is maintaining correct vertical alignment with the drilling jig. Even after carefully marking alignment lines on the legs and rails, I guess the torque associated with drilling into end grain caused some minor movement of the jig. This is just a guess, but if you’ve ever drilled into end grain before, you know it is a much harder operation than drilling into the face or edge of a board. This has only happened a couple of times and will not be an issue for glue-up.

Also, even after buying a Vertias dowel former, I still had to sand each dowel to make it fit properly in the holes I drilled. I thought that my 3/8 inch drill bit might be a little less than 3/8, but it appears to be about right. Go figure.

NEXT ON THE SCHEDULE
My next post will be all about forming the panels which slip into the openings in the frames. This will involve some delicate slot forming in the front and back legs; a step I sure don’t want to mess up (I will have to be extra careful making the slots). This will be part two of making the sides and dividers – stay tuned!

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4 thoughts on “Window Seat Bookcase: Building the Sides and Dividers, Part 1”

  1. No never too many photos! You are so talented! What a wonderful addition this wil be to your daughter’s room. Thank you for sharing your love of woodworking.

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