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mackman 06-05-2017 11:06 PM

Advice for solid wood corner bookcase?
 
5 Attachment(s)
I've built coffee and side tables out of solid wood, and I've built a bookcase out of oak plywood: For my next challenge/home project, I'm designing an all-wood (no ply) corner bookcase (30 inches to a side, 10 inches deep, 74 inches tall). And I was hoping to get your advice.

Here are a few screenshots of my SketchUp model...i have it half and half right now, between two styles.

On the left, the front is basically one length of cherry with a LOT of cutouts for the stained glass bays and the windowed display at the bottom, and then the back has reinforcing strips down the sides and across the grain in between the panels.

On the right (which was my original thought), it's basically a large frame-and-stile design, with two 3-inch strips glued together for a 3x1.5 inch beam on each side, with other 3-inch strips going between each stained glass bay (pay no attention to the decorative striping, although that would disguise the glueline).

Basically, at this point I'm looking for feedback on which design would be best (or another design I haven't thought of). As far as I can see, the advantage of the first design is that (almost) all the grain would be going basically the same way...the sides, top, bottom, and shelves would all be expanding/contracting in the same direction, instead of pinching or stretching in every which way. And even though the halves are at 90 degrees to each other, it seems that they would just expand/contract independently of each other without messing each other up (although as I've never worked with wood movement on this large a scale, that could be completely wrong). Whereas the advantage of the second design is that I don't need two huge cherry boards that will just get hollowed out anyway, and the wood movement along the frame would likely be minuscule and easy enough to account for with the shelves and top (although again, I could be wrong).

So...any thoughts or advice? Am I doing this completely wrong and need to start from scratch? Any and all feedback will be appreciated. What can I do to make this project structurally sound?

Masterofnone 06-06-2017 12:13 AM

The rail and style version is probably going to be your best bet, in terms of ease of building. Additionally, once you start cutting big hunks of wood out of a large cherry board, it is bound to warp and twist on you.

Masterofnone 06-06-2017 12:16 AM

Oh, and on the actual shelves, wood is guaranteed to move and there is no way to stop it, so just make it go where you want it to go.

Secure the front of each shelf in place while allowing the wood to expand out of the back.

mackman 06-06-2017 12:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Masterofnone (Post 1680441)
The rail and style version is probably going to be your best bet, in terms of ease of building. Additionally, once you start cutting big hunks of wood out of a large cherry board, it is bound to warp and twist on you.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Masterofnone (Post 1680449)
Oh, and on the actual shelves, wood is guaranteed to move and there is no way to stop it, so just make it go where you want it to go.

Secure the front of each shelf in place while allowing the wood to expand out of the back.

That makes perfect sense, and I hadn't considered the warping that would occur by cutting out chunks of the board. This is exactly the kind of advice I need.

I'd already figured out that I needed to secure the front of the shelf and leave the back free (or at least use something like the Rockler tabletop fasteners), so it's nice to see that confirmed. Thanks for the help!

Steve Neul 06-06-2017 06:34 AM

If you are not planning to use the bookcase for something heavy like books at 10" deep if they are fixed shelves you could get away with omitting the vertical board on the inside corner. This would give you more open space. The panes of glass I would make the sides with rabbeted openings so you could insert the glass with strips of trim. It would make the bookcase easier to finish and glass may get broken some day and need replacing.

Solid wood would work alright with the exception is they might cup warp on you. It's just going to be a gamble. About the only thing you can do is select boards that are as close to the center of the tree as possible. The shelves may stay flat forever or bow next week. No way to know.

mackman 06-06-2017 04:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Steve Neul (Post 1680521)
If you are not planning to use the bookcase for something heavy like books at 10" deep if they are fixed shelves you could get away with omitting the vertical board on the inside corner. This would give you more open space. The panes of glass I would make the sides with rabbeted openings so you could insert the glass with strips of trim. It would make the bookcase easier to finish and glass may get broken some day and need replacing.

Solid wood would work alright with the exception is they might cup warp on you. It's just going to be a gamble. About the only thing you can do is select boards that are as close to the center of the tree as possible. The shelves may stay flat forever or bow next week. No way to know.

I thought about eliminating the vertical pillar, but now that it's part of the design, I actually quite like the look (plus I could make 4 small "secret compartments" behind it, which certainly appeals to me). And compared to the shelves I have up now, it won't significantly impact the available book area...as it is, it's a hassle for me to place the books across the curve so that they don't just fall over.

Right on with the trim over the glass...I had thought of that but was concerned with getting the body of the design solidified first. Probably semi-removable trim in front (so...just like a couple drops of glue? Or what's the best way to make it possible to remove?), and a removable panel behind (each window will be backlit by LEDs, which is something my current shelves already have). On that note, any ideas for the best way to have a removable panel?

Regarding the cupping shelves...I wasn't aware that it could be that severe over the width of a single book shelf. Would it be better if each shelf was made up of smaller strips of wood? Does that mean I should certainly use something like the Rockler tabletop fasteners to fix them down in the back, to alleviate potential issues?

Again, thank you for your advice!

Masterofnone 06-06-2017 10:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mackman (Post 1680929)

Regarding the cupping shelves...I wasn't aware that it could be that severe over the width of a single book shelf. Would it be better if each shelf was made up of smaller strips of wood? Does that mean I should certainly use something like the Rockler tabletop fasteners to fix them down in the back, to alleviate potential issues?

Again, thank you for your advice!

I think if you mill it nice and flat and let it acclimate to the environment, you should be okay. I've never made a bookshelf out of solid wood... I've used ply and if you put a lot of weight on it it'll bow very quickly. I think the human eye can detect as much as a 1/32" deflection over 30". I wouldn't worry about using "smaller strips" but you could but some sort of edge banding to help reinforce it. Or just go for it and see what it does.

Several options for securing it together. Just make sure if you're using screws to make oblong holes in the back so it'll slide. I saw a guy once glue a solid wood cabinets together and he merely glued the center of a shelf to the vertical piece in a dado so it could expand fore and aft

mackman 06-06-2017 10:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Masterofnone (Post 1681241)
I think if you mill it nice and flat and let it acclimate to the environment, you should be okay. I've never made a bookshelf out of solid wood... I've used ply and if you put a lot of weight on it it'll bow very quickly. I think the human eye can detect as much as a 1/32" deflection over 30". I wouldn't worry about using "smaller strips" but you could but some sort of edge banding to help reinforce it. Or just go for it and see what it does.

Several options for securing it together. Just make sure if you're using screws to make oblong holes in the back so it'll slide. I saw a guy once glue a solid wood cabinets together and he merely glued the center of a shelf to the vertical piece in a dado so it could expand fore and aft

Oh yeah, I know all about ply bowing (I just finished a ply and oak shelf that was 45 inches wide). I'm going to have a 2-inch strip across the front of each of the shelves, so with that on one side and a couple tabletop fasteners on the other, hopefully it'll be good.

Regarding the milling, I'm getting it from a lumberyard that sells it pre-milled and planed (basically ready to go), but I'll have to make sure that it's all of the same width, since I don't have the money to drop on a planer right now.

I don't think I'm going to use screws to secure the moving bits...I'm already familiar with how the specialized tabletop fasteners work, and they're very cheap, so I think i'll stick with those on the back and glue in the front.

Masterofnone 06-07-2017 10:46 AM

I honestly have no idea about the table top fasteners you're referring to, but if you are familiar with them and like them, do it

mackman 06-07-2017 11:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Masterofnone (Post 1681521)
I honestly have no idea about the table top fasteners you're referring to, but if you are familiar with them and like them, do it

These bad boys right here: https://www.rockler.com/table-top-fasteners

You screw one end to the underside of the shelf or tabletop, and you slot the other end halfway into a groove cut into the side of the support. It holds it down tightly while still allowing it to expand or contract.


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