I am re-running a blog series from 2010 – the construction of a large bookcase for a co-worker. In this entry originally published February 14, 2010, I finish building the lower case face frame.
I have reached a small milestone with this project which is the completion of the face frame for the lower bookcase. It at this point that we start to see what this project is going to look like. Pack a lunch, this is a long post.
Yesterday was another long stretch in the workshop. It started out with a trip to the Home Depot to purchase two six foot pipe clamps. I have been resisting the urge to purchase longer clamps, but I had a slight problem pop up that required one to fix it. The latest edition of Fine Woodworking’s Tools and Shops special issue has a review of parallel bar clamps, so I took a quick look at their recommendations. I went to Woodcraft on-line to see what they had (example here). I saw few options for six foot long clamps and those reviewed by FWW looked to be more expensive anyway, so I went with the clamps that I have used for more than 20 years: two three-quarter inch pipe clamps.
The problem I ran into was an out-of-square situation with the face frame. Early in my woodworking, I made a few projects that were out of square. No one noticed, but in the back of my mind I knew and I also knew that this was something that I would need to correct for future projects. Norm Abram gets credit for showing me how to do this. In the photo at the top of the post, you can see the long pipe clamp pulling the face frame into square.
In the same photo, the lower rail has not been attached. I want it to be flush with the lower shelf, so alignment is critical. I position the face frame and carefully mark the location for the lower rail. The components of the face frame are joined using pocket screw joinery.
Now that the face frame is completed, it is time to attach it to the bookcase. This took considerable thought and planning because the face frame is rather long and alignment is the utmost importance.
I did not have enough clamps to clamp up everything, so in addition to clamps, I relied on screws which would later be covered by molding and pocket screws which will not be seen either. I also used biscuits along the left and rights sides as well as the lower shelf. This may seem like overkill, but to have all the face frame joined tightly to the box of the lower bookcase, all of this is necessary. I don’t want any cracks that have to be filled.
After a dry run with clamps, screws and biscuits, the actual glue-up is completed. All the planning meant that I could successfully spread glue, lay the face frame in place, attach screws and the various clamps, and wipe away glue squeeze out without becoming a nervous wreck. This is really a two person job. Note in the photo above how my twin box beam assembly table provides a lot of flexibility during glue-up.
I use a flush trim bit in my router to cut away the extra width of the stiles. This makes a giant mess on my shop floor. I am thinking of some sort of stand that I can attach a hose for my dust collector to catch the dust from such an operation as this.
Coming up: this sounds like something a TV announcer would say: “In our next episode of the Scott Bookcase, see the base moldings being applied.” Stay tuned.
To see the previous posts in this series, click here.