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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For the past several weeks, I have been working on a book case for storage in our upcoming daughter's room. It is still under way, but I am finally getting around to putting up a build thread as I finish things up. The book case is made from 3/4 Baltic Birch plywood and Cherry. The first image shows a bit of the planning stage. I drew up a few versions that eventually evolved into what the wife wanted. This, of course, is also not what it will end up looking like :LAUGHING:.

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I picked up a 1/4" Freud slot cutter on clearance from my hardware store and used that and 1/4" Baltic Birch splines to line up the cherry facing on the plywood, while also adding some additional surface area for gluing.

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All of the shelves, sides, and vertical dividers connect with sliding dovetails and glue. A few sliding dovetails are pretty easy to fit if you cut them on a router table--especially with an Incra fence. Lots of sliding dovetails that are dependent upon one another for alignment, though, that is another story all together. It was during this stage that I made my first big blunder. I had built an extra 4 inches into the height of the top shelf so that I could have a curved trim piece that would hang down from the top across the front and still have the same size of opening. This was important because some of the shelves are sized for some baskets that the wife picked out. I was so focused on my sliding dovetails that I somehow overlooked this design detail. In the end, I made a number of other changes to rectify the design, some of which I am still ironing out.

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Above is some of the dry-fitting process to check for alignment as I was cutting the sliding dovetails. The original plan had 1/4" Baltic Birch plywood to be used as a back panel. I didn't think too much about this, but I knew that I wanted the back panel to be dadoed into the back. I ended up doing the back panel in three pieces (one per shelf). I shortened the vertical dividers to fit flush against the back board without actually attaching to it. The dados run inside the the shelves and side walls. There was a very specific process for assembly in order to have everything go together properly.

(Cue my second blunder) This actually relates to my first. The extra 4 inches that was supposed to be with the top shelve ended up at the bottom. The side walls are now my legs. Previously, I was going to build separate legs for the unit, but no more! The two panels are plenty sturdy, but they don't do much for the center--especially if anything heavy is placed on the unit for an extended period of time Granted, all of the shelves and top would have to flex in order for any one of them to sag, but I am not taking any chances. I built two extra supports for underneath (I'll try and get a picture next time I have it upside-down). They are 3 layers thick plywood and extend from a shallow dado in the center of the side panel perpendicular 16" to right under the nearest bottom shelf divider. The plan was for these to be glued in place and have 2 2" stainless wood screws help anchor them in place, driven from the inside of the dovetail slot of the bottom shelf vertical divider, downward into the lower brace. I did this for the first one as planned, but the second was supposed to go on last. Like a bone head, I assembled the rest of the case, including the vertical divider for the other side of the bottom shelf that I was supposed to leave out to drive screws in for the 2nd lower support. Alas, both lower supports are attached in different ways. I am okay with it, though, as both are strong and the differences are well out of sight.

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I used Titebond III when assembling all of this, taking advantage of the extra open time to glue all of the joints and ensure that they are square. Lacking any clamps bigger than 32", I used ratcheting straps to help wrench everything together. Unfortunately, this wasn't the best solution as the sides do bow slightly out in the center on both sides. This obviously isn't ideal, but there is no fixing it so I can live with it. It really is a minimal amount and not noticeable to the naked eye.

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Because of blunder number 1, I had to start from scratch again with the whole design aspect and reevaluate the overall aesthetic. This whole thing really took the wind out of my sails on this project. Eventually, through a process of attempted solutions, new problems, and new solutions, I nearly have the blunders resolved.
 

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good timing

Good timing. Thanks for doing this. I am starting an entryway cabinet that will look very similar to this was trying to find a pic that will show my wife what it will look like. Quality pics with a pattern. Nice work.

TonyM
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
ForumRunner_20131120_061831.jpg

Here is some of the progress. I got the top trim sanded and attached. I ran a 5/16" ogee along the inside of the trim. The two angled sides are 7 degrees to match the dovetail angles throughout. There is a matching piece that will go under the bottom shelf with the same angle and ogee treatment. Actually, it is sitting on the top of the unit in this picture. You can see it if you squint.

I'd like to give a big thanks to Mike1950. I stopped up and visited him again last weekend to get some cherry for the top. He was kind enough to flatten it on his big joiner and plane it to a constant thickness (just over 3/4"). I have the top panel glued up now, but I still need to get it smoothed out.

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The trim piece along the top really sticks out further than I'd like. The bottom edge of it is just far too abrupt for my liking. This is how it goes sometimes when you are on "plane F" I guess!

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I stared at it a bunch and eventually decided to run the same ogee but along the bottom edge and side of the top trim to take some of the weight off. I am also attaching some strips of cherry vertically to give the sides a more substantial feel and make the transition at the top more natural. Once I get these pieces sanded and ready I'll glue them up. Pictured is one piece clamped on the side to mock up how it may look.
 

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I don't think I've seen dovetailed trim that way before, it adds quite a bit to the piece! I'm looking forward to learning dovetails once my saw comes in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Today was just a little 2 or 3 hour stint in the shop and really not much to look at photo-wise, but here are a few anyway.

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I've got 1" x 2" x 35 3/4" boards that will be attached to the sides sanded and ready, though I am going to do a bit of edge work on them with the router first. I didn't get quite that far today unfortunately, but perhaps tomorrow.

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Above is just a better view of the dovetailed trim board along the top and the shaped detail along the edges.

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The other thing I spent time on today was smoothing out my top panel. It is made up of 4 boards that are glued up together. I used my LA block plane to knock down the glue line and then hit it with a smoother plane. Mike had the stock all dimensioned to basically the same thickness, so there wasn't tons to remove. This hand planing operation was a less than desirable setup. I encounter more tear-out than I would have liked. The two boards in the center, in particular, had some crazy stuff going on with their grain and I couldn't seem to read which direction I should be attacking it from. It was just trial and error and error and error. I got it as smooth as I could and corrected for as much of the tear out as possible. I then hit it with 80/120 on my ROS. Another reason that this process was less than ideal was work surfaces. My "bench" is a B&D Workmate. The top of this unit is 53" x 19", so trying to plane that on a Workmate is out of the question. My other options were either clamping it to the top of my table saw (which is less than ideal because the underside isn't great to clamp to) or simply clamp it to the top of the unit, which is what I did. I calculated from the materials used that the unit should weigh 120-130 lbs right now, but that really isn't enough mass to plane on. Also, it is around 40" tall. That isn't a comfortable or ergonomic position for anyone to try and work from, but especially not 5'08" me. Anyway, that is all just more support for me needing to build a proper workbench.

I've got a lot to do still before the finishing stage, but happily most of the remaining steps are small things that are easy to do in the shorter spans of shop time that I have in my near future. Onward!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
ForumRunner_20131126_235052.jpg
Well, it was a productive weekend for woodworking for a change. I basically finished assembly (aside from attaching the top, which will be done very last) and was able to begin finishing. :eek: Seen above is the trim for the bottom of the unit clamped in place. As you can probably tell, the unit is upside-down at the moment.

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The rear trim on the sides was a bit of a challenge to clamp in place as there wasn't much to clamp to without having 50"+ pipe clamps...which I don't have. Obviously this would have been much easier if this trim wasn't an afterthought, but that is the way things go when the design evolves during the building process. The next few photos show my clamping process.

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I held the top of each piece to the side panel firmly at the only really good clamping point with one hand screw clamp on either side. Ratcheting straps are doing the work further down the piece. I made four custom shaped cauls to direct the strap pressure and keep things aligned. The cauls are made from scrap 1x4 with a dado cut for the strap to ride in.

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To protect the front corners from the straps, I used some corner protectors that I had made from many, many layers of corrugated cardboard for a shipping container.

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
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Well, it has been far too cold in the garage/shop these past few weeks, so I rolled in a second heater and set it for "Holy Hell lets get some damn Heat!"

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This is a shot of what the feet look like. I mentioned them in an earlier post when I detailed my blunder that caused them to be attached in two very different ways. They are really not going to be seen ever, but here they are.

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Once the glue was dry from attaching the bottom and side trim the previous day, I tipped the unit back and did some final sanding to get the surfaces ready for finish. Not pictured here is the top, which I also sanded profusely.

The solid wood top will attach with screws from the top row of cubby holes. There will be 12 total, with five across the back in straight holes and two in the middle and five more up front in slotted holes to allow for the wood to move. I also plan to glue the back few inches in the area immediately around the fixed holes to add additional strength.

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I marked and measured the holes for the top and then drilled the fixed holes. I built a quick makeshift jig from scraps so that I could use my router to cut small slotted holes that were more-or-less the same (see background).

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This is a slotted hole. 1/4" is the smallest router bit I had and the round head wood screws that I have fit with some play. I may put a fender washer on the screw as well if I am feeling crazy, but I really don't think it will be necessary.

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Once I had all of the holes drilled and slotted for the top to mount to, I place the top where it belongs, aligned it, and clamped it in place. I then used a pencil that I made thinner to mark the hole positions from underneath. Not wanting to drill through the top, I utilized an ultra precision depth stop (see photo). :laughing:

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... and here is a teaser of the top mocked up. The top has a 7 degree bevel on three sides (not the back) which I cut with the table saw. I made an attempt to cut this bevel with a 7 degree router bit with disastrous results that I prefer not to talk about :furious:.

That's all you get to see for now. Finishing is in the works, so my next round of photos will be the finished thing...with a finish on it. Stay tuned.:thumbsup:
 

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Nice work Ben, you put that cherry to great use. I understand your planing problem on the top. As you know I was building with cherry when you were here. I did not realize until I finished how curly the wood was. Made it a little difficult to plane but it was worth it when I put the finish on.
Good design use of your errors-I like the bottom leg!!!
 
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Looking great, Ben. I'm loving the double dovetails on the trim. Beautiful touch! Sucks about the mess ups early on. But, at least I'm shown again that I'm not the only one who makes crazy, preventable errors.

Also, congrats on the upcoming little girl! Or is the baby already here and it's the room that's upcoming? Sorry, I forget now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Looking great, Ben. I'm loving the double dovetails on the trim. Beautiful touch! Sucks about the mess ups early on. But, at least I'm shown again that I'm not the only one who makes crazy, preventable errors.

Also, congrats on the upcoming little girl! Or is the baby already here and it's the room that's upcoming? Sorry, I forget now.
Thanks Steve! Baby is upcoming, but imminent! I am a master of preventable errors so you are in good company.

Sent from my DROID RAZR MAXX using Woodworking Talk
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Fin!

Well, it is done. Finishing was one coat of Minwax Preconditioner, one coat of Minwax Gel Stain (chestnut) immediately after, and 5 coats of Minwax gloss wipe on poly, sanded with 600 before the top coat. This really brought the two materials together and looks decent with the other furniture in the room. Enough chit-chat, here are some pictures.


I estimate the weight to be at or around 150lbs from the materials used. I had a friend come and help me move it in as I didn't want to bang it up moving it myself.





Top is smooth and the gloss is nice and reflective.





Thanks everyone who gave their input on this thread and helped me along the way. A special thanks to Mike1950 for parting with some of his cherry and squaring it up as well. This really helped speed the completion of the top.

Well, my shop is empty now again. No projects in the works and it will be that way for a little while as we get closer to our due date (37 weeks today--holy $%&#!). I'm contemplating taking up some whittling this winter since I can do that inside and still make some nice small things perhaps. This is our first born on the way and I am totally blown away by everything about her already. My man nesting is officially over, so now we wait for her to pop out :yes:
 

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I wood if I could.
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Wow, Ben, what a great looking piece. The stain was a perfect choice and really make the unit come to life. Very well done :thumbsup:

Speaking of whittling, try making some fancy whittled chain. Just saying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Wow, Ben, what a great looking piece. The stain was a perfect choice and really make the unit come to life. Very well done :thumbsup:

Speaking of whittling, try making some fancy whittled chain. Just saying.
Thanks! If I try whittling, you will be the first to know. There will be a flood of questions I am sure.

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That corner detail looks great how do you do that?

Jim
 
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