'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros  

'Ol Dave's Woodshop - Where woodworkers are not all Pros
                                                                   "Where woodworkers are not all Pros"
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Built-In Library Project
For a number of years my wife and I had been collecting quite a few books, from children's books to biographies, which were stored just about everywhere in our house.  Last fall we undertook a complete redo of our family room, complete with a new 5" figured hickory hardwood floor, a new coffered ceiling and all new red oak baseboards, chair railing and doors.  After completion, we decided it would be really neat if we could incorporate a new built-in library in the corner of the room to house the books. We also thought that it would add to the beauty of the room.  We undertook the project, completed it and the photo below is a shot of that corner of the room.
Built-in quarter sawn white oak library.
It's pretty hard to get an idea how it looks in the overall appearance of the room, but you can begin to get an idea from this picture.  We think it looks very good in this setting......what do you think?  If you care to find out how I began, built and completed this rather large project, follow along in the spaces below.
First things first, I measured the area of the room where we wanted to place the library.  With those measurements in hand, I went browsing the internet for a style that would fit within the other decor of the room.  We didn't really want a contemporary look or feel and decided to look for something that would be more of a Shaker look but a little more "trimmed out".  I found a picture that came very close to what we had invisioned and began designing the plans around that idea using Autocad.  Autocad is the software I had used in my day job before retiring and the software is very familair to me.  It helps to use a CAD program when designing because it lets you see, along the way, whether things are going to fit properly before you start chopping into the wood.

I altered the design from what I saw in the internet pictures somewhat in that we wanted to incorporate some display shelving on the exposed end of the cases.  You can see those half round shelves in some of the photos on this page. 

We decided to use solid quarter sawn oak throughout instead of veneered plywood because we wanted the end result to be valued long into the future and wanted the "rays" in the lumber to really stand out!

Upon completion of all the drawings, I began putting together a bill of materials list for the quarter sawn oak.  I allowed about 10 percent extra of all the thicknesses of lumber to make sure that I had enough material and so that I could pick out the better grain of the wood in certain instances.

No Turning Back....

With my list in hand, I made the trip to L.R. Nisley & Sons Hardwoods near Goshen, Indiana to order the wood.  This is an Amish operated shop that sells all types of rough sawn lumber and millwork and has very good quality products at especially favorable prices.  I ended up ordering roughly $800 worth of material between four quarter and five quarter stock.  I had them plane and finish sand the material to final thicknesses to save the wear and tear on my planer and my arms.  After having spent the money, there was no turning back now!

Lower library unit shelving detail.I decided to build the entire case in two different sections (upper and lower units that would eventually become one).  The lower unit, which is described on this page, was designed to have three drawers in the center and double doors on either side.  Inside and behind the doors, the cabinet was designed to have spaces devided by full depth center shelves.  This can be seen in the photo here on the left.

I started by laying out the drawings for the lower cabinets and began jointing the edges of the boards that were to be used for the shelves, ends, center panels and the face frame for this case.  You can see some of these operations in the photos below.
Lower shelf boards prior to cutting overall lengths and performing the glueups.
Lower shelf boards on the workbench (prior to glueup).
One of the end panels after being glued, clamped and waiting to dry.
End panel boards during the glueup process.
Face frame parts after overall width 
cuts laying on my workbench and waiting for final assembly.
Face frame parts lying on the workbench.
Some of the shelf parts
after glueups.
Shelf boards drying while being clamped.

Lower case bottom section during glueup.

After the end panels and center sections were dried from the glueups, they were trimmed to the final overall width, final sanded and set aside to await the preparing of the sections that were to be used for the top and bottom of the lower case unit.  I then repeated the glueups of the top and bottom panels (one of which can be seen in the photo on the right side of the page.

Moving On....

Face Frame pocket screw detail.Next, I began to cut the lower case face frame parts to their final overall length and widths.  I used pocket screw joinery on the face frame as can be seen in the photo here on the left.

You can see the results of the entire frame which was assembled using this method in the two photos below.
View showing the back side of the 
face frame and the pocket screw
details of the assembled frame.
Back side of finished face frame showing pocket screws
View showing the front side of the 
assembled face frame and laid 
out on the top of my workbench.
Front side of finished face frame after final assembly

Router and guides set up for cutting dados in panels.
After the completion of the face frame, I moved on to cutting dados into the inner sides of the lower case ends and center panels.  These were cut to 3/8" deep and were used to hold the shelving inside the cabinet on both the left and right sides of the center drawer section.  The photo on the right shows how I set up the guides for my router on one of the panels.

With the dados cut, I began assembling the ends, center panels and shelving into the basic lower case.  I only glued the front 5 or 6 inches of the shelving into the dado slots to allow for expansion and contracting with humidity changes.  The face frame was designed to be longer than the main case on the left side so that I could build in the half round display shelf on that side. The face frame was attached to the case by using #20 biscuit joinery. You can see in the left photo below what the case looked like after the initial glueup was done and prior to installing the face frame.  The picture on the right (below) is a view of the lower unit after the face frame was installed and before building in the half round shelf.
Lower case prior to installing face frame.
Lower case with face frame installed.

View of half round shelving of lower case.After the lower case face frame had been installed, I made the floor, top, back, extra frame pieces and the half-round shelf that was to be used in forming the end section.  I used dados cut into the back panel for the rear of the shelf and then when I installed the shelf, I used glue on its right edge as well as 18 guage pin nails from the inside of the case to hold it in place.  Next, I added the extra top and bottom face frame parts to the existing face frame by cutting the parts to 45° angles on their ends and continuing around the case at those points.  The view of the completed case (less back) is shown in the view on the right.

Lower case after Trans Tint orange dye was applied.Being satisfied with the project up to this point, I decided to apply the finish to this lower half of the unit.  Having been told by a fellow woodworking friend that quarter sawn white oak can have the flecks really "pop out" with a trick that he learned, I decided to give it a try.  The trick was to use an orange Trans Tint wood dye on the cabinetry prior to applying the final coloring stain.  I mixed up a batch and applied it over the entire surface which is shown here on the left.

Lower case after dark walnut stain was applied over the orange tint.After the orange tint was dry, I had to lightly sand the surface because the tint had raised the grain slightly.  When completed, I applied a coat of dark walnut stain over the tinted case.  You can see from right photo that this approach really did make the flecks of the quarter sawn oak "Pop out" just as my friend said that it would.  I then put on two coats of clear urethane top coating.
Doors & Drawers.....
Time to move on to the next step which was to construct the doors and the drawers for this lower unit.  I chose to use Ambrosia Maple for the door panel inserts.  Using the same tint stain and top coat on the stiles and rails as well as the maple panels, it turned out rather nice, I think!  The Ambrosia Maple panels took on sort of a burgundy look after the finishing process.  I used poplar to construct the drawers using dovetail joinery and Accuride full extension drawer slides to mount the drawers into the cabinet.  The pictures below show some of the steps for this phase of the project.
Drawer sides laid
out after cutting
the dovetails.
Dovetail drawer sides
Doors with 
panels and with
stain applied.
Stained doors with inserts.
Front view of lower
cabinet after assembly.

Front view of finished lower case.

Angled view of
lower unit with
drawers pulled out.
Lower case view with opened drawers.

That's it for the lower unit.  If you are not bored already, the process that I went through contructing the top unit of this library can be viewed here.


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