Jefferson Bookcases – Introduction

Originally written August 1, 2020

When we moved to Santa Fe last year, I had planned to build new bookcases for the house. In my old house in Minneapolis, I had built-in bookcases, and the house here in the Southwest needs a different look.

A panorama of built-in bookcases, completely full, and mostly filling three walls of a room. There is an exercise bike, some posters, an ironing board, a few boxes and a recliner in the room, also

So I looked around a little, and decided to build the Jefferson Bookcases that Chris Schwarz wrote about for Pop Wood (and later on his own blog).

Given that I'm in Santa Fe, and getting nice hardwood is tougher here than I'm used to from Minnesota, I decided to build them in pine. I can get nice clear pine from Alpine Builders Supply here in town, and while it's not cheap, it's not going to break the bank.

So that's the back-story. I'm planning to write up the build process as I go, though likely I'll be behind on writing it up (I have four plinths and one case built as I write this), in part because I'm not great at taking all the photos I need as I'm building. But luckily there are enough repeated parts that I've been able to go back and get photos of every step of the way. That means this will be a lot longer than the Pop Wood article I linked above, but will also include a lot of the wrong turns I took along the way, and tricks I figured out to make the build go smoother.

As for parts, there are going to be at least six plinths, holding a stack of cases a minimum of five cases high on each stack. And that won't even get the paperbacks – I think I'm going to put those in cases that'll hang on a cleat on the wall above the stacks of cases.

Did I mention that I have a lot of books?

Based on questions when I initially wrote this, I had the following additions: * Tom asked about tolerances and trying to keep the stacks of cases looking uniform. I built a circular saw track guide with stops to cut the long (horizontal) boards of each case to the same length with my circular saw. A miter box with a stop would also work. * I posted some teaser photos. First shows three plinths which will support the cases. The middle one is my prototype which did not have mitered corners on the top dovetails, so the rabbets for carrying the cases show on the front and look bad. Stack of three plinths * Second sneak-peek is a prototype case, 11½ inches deep, 13 inches high, and 30 inches wide (all the cases will be 30 inches wide). The only change required was taking about 1/32 inch off the back edge of the bottom board so the case would sit better in the plinth. Prototype book case * Third sneak-peek is my workbench, set up for building these cases. Workbench with tools

The tools on my workbench, from left to right are: * clamp rack on the wall * planes, mostly used for finishing. Also knife and spokeshave, which are used for the curves on the plinths. * chisel and rebate saw / kerfing plane, used for cutting the rabbets in the boards (at the beginning). * glue, note sheet with cut-list, and paper towels for cleaning up. * mirror, used to see the back of dovetails when I'm sawing. * twin-screw vise for workholding * shellac and brush for finishing, mallets for aiding in assembly * marking tools for laying everything out. pencils. * rasps, dovetail saw, and turning saw for cutting dovetails * stack of completed parts (none there at the moment) * (on the floor) stacks of lumber cut to length for the current case

Contents #woodworking #bookcases

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