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Arts and Crafts Hanging Bookcase

Funny how I don’t consider myself a “reader” yet my nightstand is always overflowing with books and magazines. Piled high I have to watch for avalanches lest I or my adult beverage be crushed and scattered. I’m about tired of it and seeking a solution, I decided to make myself a wall mounted bookshelf for said current reading materials. I began by seeking inspiration from the Internet. Having found a piece that interested me, I fired up SketchUp and went to work drawing up plans.

Arts and Crafts Style Hanging Bookcase

Size-wise the top is about 28″ wide and about 23″ wide at the carcass. Originally I thought it would have two shelves but as I began the build I could see that I’d have made two too-short shelves and opted for one shelf which could accommodate 13″ books. This left 6″ for the bottom area which I now concluded needed some small yet decorative drawers. Two arches (upper and lower) and 4 corbels supporting the top would complete the concept. Because I had no intention of using white oak (I’m using sapele left over from my Christmas project) and fuming with ammonia this might better be called an arts and crafts “inspired” design. The plan is to hang the unit via French cleat underneath the top. In the unlikely event the unit could be bumped off the cleat I plan to secure the bottom to the wall with couple of screws.

The Carcass

About a month ago I began laying out the case pieces and it was only then I knew that I didn’t want two shelves. While I was at it, I shaped the corbels and laid out a couple of arches. The corbels are ready to use but the arches will need some work before they are show ready.

Humm, This Going to Work? Corbells

I would design the drawers later but I could soldier on by cutting the through mortises and tenons and beginning the case joinery.

Hand-chopped Mortise

Same wood (sapele) and same technique I used building the Shaker inspired step-stools. Hey I’m learning methods of work and attempting to apply them, right?

Test Fitting Through Tenons

Just like the stools, I’ll glue and wedge these joints when they are ready to be assembled. Twelve mortises later the case can be dry fit.

Case Joinery Cut

Following a month-long delay, I was ready to get back to the project. Last weekend I measured and cut a rabbit for a plywood back for the drawer area. Two of the rabbits were through cuts but two required a more judicious stopped cut be made. I did these cuts on the router table and squared up the ends with a chisel.  I then moved on to the three 1/4″ dados I needed to hold the drawer webbing.

Drawer Guts

I didn’t see an easy or safe way that I could make these cuts on the router table so I decided to use my small router plane and router them by hand. It took a while but I was able to successfully route them given time. With the drawer webbing cut and fit, it was time to think about the drawer fronts.

The board I had cut to be the other shelf would be used for the three required drawer fronts. I wanted to be smart about this and cut them such that I had a continuous grain match across all three drawers.

Drawer Fronts Cut

The drawer webbing ends 1/4″ from the front of the case and to conceal the plywood edges which would show between the drawers, I am cutting the fronts with a 1/4″ lip such that the plywood is hidden when the drawers are closed.

Drawer Fronts

So far, so good. I know there will need to be a gap between drawers to keep them functional but for now I’m keeping the gap small. I’ll plan them later after I make the drawers and play with the best fit.

There is a lot left to do yet. Next session, I’ll make all the drawers and I suppose after that I’ll be getting closer to gluing up the assembly. Or perhaps I should commit to the glue-up first so as to make sure the drawers fit properly, we’ll see. The decorative moldings and cleat will follow that.

But first I’ll be finishing the final assembly on Rhyan End Table – Redux as we plan to spend this coming weekend in Turtle Cove (Melrose, FL)

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