SketchUp, Tom's Workbench, Window Seat Bookcase
Comments 5

My First Full Size Mock-Up

With this project, I want everything to be just about perfect. Since it will be only the second piece of furniture to be built for my daughter, I want it to be meaningful and a piece of furniture she will have forever. So I am taking my time with the design so as to get it just right. But it has been a slow process; slow like Christmas.

Here’s a re-cap of what has been going on: a couple of weeks ago, I started building the full-size mock-up of the bookcase. I decided to use poster board for this mainly for cost reasons. I considered cheap pine and pocket screws which might actually been faster, but there would be the issue of what to do with the pine mock-up afterwards. I am a bit of a wood hoarder and I sure don’t need any more left-over lumber in my workshop. Poster board won out – I think I spent less than $10 on the mock-up. And I can simply throw it away when I’m done with it.

Constructing the sides of the mock-up.

Constructing the sides of the mock-up.

In the background: the left and right sections. Foreground: work on the middle section.

In the background: the left and right sections. Foreground: work on the middle section.

Justifying all this time on the mock-up
This is the first time I have created a mock-up like this. I have made some full-size drawings before. One such situation was the design for a TV Console for my Dad. And good thing I did the full-size drawing. Using a 3D modeling program like SketchUp can fool the eye if you’re not extra careful. From the start, the TV Console was supposed to fill a small space and therefore be small. But, the full-size drawing revealed a TV Console small enough that it looked a little like play furniture, so the design was enlarged. The mock-up I am making will do the same thing: help avoid any design surprises.

Some additional reasons for the mock-up: it will help us answer some important questions…

  • Do we need to raise the height of the seat back?
  • Does the curve of the crest rail soften the design?
  • Is the seat height to high?
  • What impact will there be on storage after adding a shelf?

I spent the morning putting the final touches on the mock-up in preparation for moving it to my daughter’s bedroom. One thing that SketchUp has been helpful with is the ability to print out full-size templates of individual components.

Above, a template for the seat arms.

Above, a template for the seat arms.

Is it time for recess yet?
Working with poster board and Scotch tape sort of reminded me of being in grade school. I kept losing my scissors and reaching for glue. When is nap time? At 53 years of age, I have a very real appreciation for nap time (especially on Sunday afternoon while NASCAR is on TV). But, there was no tri-square in grade school and even though I hear that some kids these days learn SketchUp at an early age, “software” was not even heard at the grade school I attended. So, only a little like grade school.

The completed mock-up in the workshop…

The window seat bookcase full size.

The window seat bookcase full size.

The big moment is next: seeing how it fits in my daughter’s bedroom…

The window seat bookcase mock-up in position.

The window seat bookcase mock-up in position.

As you can see, it fits pretty well in front of her window. It was a given from the outset that the height of the crest rail would cover at least a little of the window. I am considering only some minor adjustments to the design and the SketchUp model does not have any joinery at this point. I am mulling over in my head the best way to attach the top of the bookcase (which is also the seat). There is some cross-grain joinery to deal with. I’ll need to start buying lumber and hopefully, by next weekend I’ll finally be making some saw dust.


Now then, one thing I did this week, Thursday night to be exact; I updated my queen size bed woodworking plan and the landing page for it. Why? It was featured today at Tom Iovino’s website. If you don’t know Tom, he is very well known in the online woodworking community, host of the Modern Woodworker’s Association podcast and has been a frequent contributor at The and the Woodtalk Show podcast. He is well known and well connected, and one of my woodworking plans was featured at his site today.

So that’s pretty cool. Thanks Tom! 🙂 My favorite recent blog post at Tom’s Workbench is this one here.


  1. dennis says

    That looks really good. I would seriously consider floating tenons for the curved top and bottom. Fit them before cutting the curve and it is pretty easy.

    • Dennis – I am thinking of using dowel joinery for most all of this, which I guess the floating tenon is a distant cousin of. What is your favorite way to cut the mortise for the floating tenon?

  2. David says

    Jeff. Catching up on your blogs. This is crazy! A full size mockup of your project made of pasteboard. Awesome!

    • David – it is crazy but I am glad I did the mock-up. Even now as the build progress is entering its final stages, I wonder if it is too small. Knowing that the mock-up fits well is reassuring. 🙂

  3. Pingback: the bookcase #3 | SouthernGrain | Woodcraft & design by David Colley

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