Bookcase Catch-Up


Paul, Neil, Laurence, Bob, Jon, Ethan and me (from l).

Last weekend, I helped to birth six new boarded bookcases (based on Christopher Schwarz’s plans in “The Anarchist’s Design Book“); I, however, am still in labor. Whenever I teach, I prep wood for a build of my own, but I have yet to finish a project in class.

I have in my basement and the back of my car at least five Shaker silverware trays with two of the dovetailed corners fully cut and fit, and the third and fourth corners begun. I have three Dutch tool chests, all with the shelf dados cut and the dovetailed carcases glued up. I have a Shaker stepstool with one dovetailed sided fully cut and fit (including the back rail and step rails…on just one side). And I have goodness knows how many other half-built projects from classes kicking around.

I get started along with students, using my own pieces to demonstrate each step, then I leave them to it as I walk around to lend a hand or suggestion as needed. I almost never manage to get back to my own project (and I typically lend out my tools, which makes it difficult to work).

The bookcase, however, I am determined to finish. We need another one in the shop, and there’s no more room in my car for another half-built thing (especially one this large).

So after taking the day off yesterday to sleep in and be lazy (and do some editing on the computer), today I popped over the river to finish the dados and grooves on my second side.

IMG_9864 copy

Groove for the back rail. And oops – a wee overcut on the left wall.

I have the case in clamps now with the glue drying. Tomorrow, I’ll drill pilots and drive the nails, then process enough lumber for my backboards (because I either underestimated how much wood I needed for seven bookcases, or I was shorted a bit). I think I’ll go with a tongue-and-groove back – the no. 48 plane is just too much fun to not use.


My next class is another Dutch Tool Chest (Sept. 22). Perhaps I’ll be savvy enough to bring in one of the half-done ones on which to work. Sure, I’ll have to start a new one to demonstrate the joinery, but maybe while the class is cutting those dovetails, I can get ahead on the last one and be three-quarters done.

Just a heads up: We’ll be announcing some early 2019 classes at the not-a-school at Lost Art Press in October.

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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7 Responses to Bookcase Catch-Up

  1. It’s always good to be busy. You can always be like Roy and have several versions of your project in certain stages to show your students the process they are currently working on.

  2. Dave Reedy says:

    I made two of these last year following the video. One for me and one for my friends daughter’s 12th birthday. He had cut down an oak tree on his property, then had it milled at a tractor show. We thought it was a good idea to use this for her’s. Air dried for years. Well, the boards were supposed to have been milled to a nominal inch thickness. Wound up being 11/4 inch on one edge and 7/8 ths on the other. Took longer to flatten that oak than to build the bookcase. Whew!

  3. Pete Galbert referred to his collection of half-finished chairs from teaching classes as his “retirement plan”.

  4. snwoodwork says:

    I’m hoping to get up there for a class next year. As of now, it depends on how well my thesis is going.

  5. Was a wonderful class, Megan. Thanks for being a great host and instructor!

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