Bookcase Project


My grandaughter, Asa, wanted a bookcase with a some drawer storage space.

The overall look will be radiata pine with a blond shellac finish.

The interior back will be beadboard with a paint finish.


Design Plan






Final Product

Design Plan


The bookcase will be 32 inches wide and 72 inches tall. Depth will be 11 inches.

There will be two drawers.

The horizontal shelf above the drawers, the top and the bottom shelf will all have tenons that will protrude through mortises in the sides.

There will be contoured rails at the top and bottom.



The primary carcase wood selected for the project was radiata pine.

Pinus radiata is a natural product of California and is called Monterey pine. In its natural growth range the tree faces serious threats put it is cultivated extensively in many areas of the world.

These premium grade boards, imported from New Zealand, were purchased at the local BORG.

The nominal 1x12 board will provide 11 1/8 width.

Because the two side panels of the bookcase were to be milled at the same time, they were taped together for the layout of the dadoes.


The center of the dado was the most important layout mark, so that the bit-center mark on the router could easily match up.


The Festool router was plunged to start the cut and lifted to finish the cut. Thus, front edges have stopped dadoes.

The start and stop points of the routed dadoes were determined by two stops on the Festool guide.
To guarantee that the dadoes on the two side panels were mirrors, the boards had to have more stability than just the tape. So, as the dadoes were made the line-ups were kept consistent by placing cutoffs in the slots.
The top edge had a rabbet instead of a dado. A sacrificial board had to be used to support the router base.
All the dadoes and the rabbet have been milled, the boards are ready to be separated and moved to the workbench for chisel work.
The dadoes had round ends from the router bit. They need to be chiseled to a square end.
All of the ends were precisely marked with a blade. This is at 5/8" from the front edge. This will make all of the recessed, stopped dadoes have the same offset.
The sides of the routed dadoes were then marked to extend to the front mark.
All markings were by blade for precision and also to provide the layin start-marks for the chisel.
After chiseling, the bottom of the dado was then routed to depth using the large LN router plane.
Test fit is quite tight. The shelves may have to be lightly planed on the 3/8 tenon portion to make the carcase build and glue-up easier.
Two down and fourteen more to go...

After all the dadoes were squared off...the final milling on the side panels was to create a 3/8" x 3/8" rabbet on the back edges.

The rabbet edge was defined with a marking gauge. The blade imprint minimized tear out.

The routing was done at the MFT3 table with the OF 1400 and an attached Festool edge guide.

The run was 6 feet.

The beadboard rear panel will fit into this rabbet.
The dadoes and rabbet groove after routing.

The 6 foot long boards assessed for quality and they were crosscut into shelving pieces.

Three of the units will be through tenon joinery. The other shelves will fit into the stopped dadoes.

A backer board and stop were set up to cut the three tenon shelves at 32 1/8 inches. The portion of the tenon that sticks out proud, 1/16 inch, will be planed flush.
The boards were then ripped to 10 7/8 inches. This will provide a slight proud edge to be planed.
The tenons were rip cut using a Bad Axe Stilleto.
The ends were crosscut with LN carcase saw. It was held in the end vise to avoid interference with vise screws.
Waste was sawed out with coping saw...
and then finished off with chisel work.
Then markings of the tenon were transferred to the inside of the dado where the mortises will be made.
The markings were made with a blade at a slight angle to keep the initial mortise tight.
The edges of the dado were then knicked onto the far edge using a head from a combo square as a saddle square.
The edges of the dado were then carried on the outer face.
Tenon dimensions were then marked on the outer face.
The dimensions of the mortise were laid out.
The majority of the mortise was hogged out with a Forstner style bit. It was drilled from the dado side with a backer board on the other face.
These Festool Zobo bits have interchangeable center quide points or drill bit centers.
We used a 3/4 inch Zobo bit with an extended quide bit.The ideal method was to drill out the holes from the dado side down to the depth where the guide bit extended through the board. Then we flipped the board and used the quide bit holes to drill back through to minimize spelching.
A backer board was also placed in the dado when drilling from the outer face.
After the end of the shelf board was tenoned and dry fit, the board was fit into the dado to mark out the locations of the notch cutout to get around the end of the stopped dado.
The notch cut out with Badaxe Stilleto.
View of the tenons and the notch cut.
Tenons, mortises, and notch ready for a dry fit.

Here is the resulting tenon and mortise fits in a dry run.

Both joints are quite tight.

The upper joint was hogged out only from the dado side...without the bit reversal and this resulted in some spelching.


The lower joint was hogged out with the reversing bit maneuver...this resulted in no spelching. This method will be used in the other mortises.
The tenon setup must be done five more times. Here is the top shelf with the tenons sawed and chiseled on both ends.
Cindy helped me crosscut all of the shelves. We used the crosscut sled on the P66 and set it up for repetitivie cuts to length.

All shelves are rough cut, the tenons are all done on the through tenon shelves.

The next step is complete all of the mortises.

Here is the second through tenon fit...looks pretty tight.
The top of the unit will not truly be through tenons...they will be open at the top so the sawcuts will be made into the top rabbets...
The rip cuts were made with Bad Axe...James climbed up onto assembly table to make them.
Horizontal cuts were made with coping saw.
The joints were finished off with chisel chops...
...and paring.
Then the top edge of the sides were laid sawn, coping sawn, and chiseled...
Prepped for the dry fit of the top to the side.
Dry fit looks really good...
The full carcase dry fit...
Relatively square
The top is secured with screws...countersunk...
Finished off with #8, 1 1/2 inch.
Then stood up for the first time
Inside lower seam is tight...looks good.
The outside tenons are a good fit...
After the middle through mortise/tenon is completed...the mortises...
Dry fit...

The sides needed a curved cut-out...Asa and I drew it 2 inches in from each edge and 2 inches up from the bottom and drew the arc using a flexible rule.


The arc was cut out with the Bosch jig and a small blade.
Rough edges were removed with rasps and sandpaper.
Finished arc...
Carcase Build

The rear panel is a sheet of wooden bead board.

The sheet good was crosscut...

...and ripped to rough size on the sawing table in the garage.

Two Festool saw guides were connected to make the long run.

The trimmed down back panel was then primed and moved to storage in the attic of the shop.
After all the shelves were completed...we did a dry run for fit and to make sure how the clamping would go...

The saw benches were utilized to provide a better working height.


Then a final dry fitting...all of the shelves and the through mortise and tenon shelves were put into place.
The other outside frame was placed on top...

Test fit for all glue blocks and clamping locations...we need a total of 14 clamps greater than 32 inches.

Used 2 Irwin parallel clamps, 6 Bessey bar clamps, 4 Bessey K body clamps,and 4 Dubuque Universal clamps.

All went well...ready for final prep of surfaces...

The two shelves that form the two drawer frames had to have runners to help keep the drawers from going askew.

The material was 1/2 thick oak. The strips were one inch rips.

The outside runners were screwed down into recessed holes with #6 x 1" square head screws.
The center guides were then removed...the shelves are ready for install.

The center guides were then put into the birds mouth jig and planed for smoother movement.

The guides will later be attached to the bottom of the drawers.

Finish and Final Carcase Work

To make the sanding and shellac application easier, all of the inside faces of the uprights and the show faces of the shelves were prepped prior to carcase assembly.

The first stage was to lay out all the pieces and to determine the faces that needed work.

The new Festool hose allowed the ten work pieces to be spread out over three work areas and the 32 foot vacumm/power line run allowed sanding in all reaches of the shop.

All of the work dings in the wood were identified...the radiata pine is quite soft and wounds easily.

Some small punctures were sealed off with Timbermate wood filler and then sanded.

Some of the dings did not respond to sanding or filling...typically wounds that were broad dents.

The compressed fibers were pulled out by using a steam method...I put water and a damp cloth over the wounds...

...and then used an iron to steam out the fibers...the fibers were still in place because none of these dings were super deep...after the steam job they popped back out...subsequent sanding made them simply disappear.

The surfaces were all sanded with 220 grit. Most of the problem areas were easily healed by sanding.

Then a second round of sanding was performed with 400 grit.

The dust was then removed with a wipe of denatured alcohol.

Then the first coat of Super Blond shellac, a 2# mix was padded on.
Then a second coat of Super Blond...
The interior faces of the ten units are now double-coated with Super Blond as needed and they are ready for the carcase glue up.
Glue was brushed into grooves and mortises...
Clamp city...
Pulled from the clamps...the carcase is built.

Ready for exterior planing, sanding and shellac.

Then drawers, curved rails at top and bottom and the rear beadboard panel.

The unit was placed on its side so work could be done on the exterior of the sides of the case. This would involve planing the tenons flush, filling imperfections with wood putty, and sanding through a grit pattern of 100x, 125x, 220x and 400x.
In five of the tenon locations the tenon sat slightly proud of the side panel. A small smoothing plane was used to make all of the surfaces co-planar.
And then Timbermate filler was placed in the edges.
And then was sanded with 400x paper for the final finish.
One of the tenon locations was slightly below grade. A larger smoothing plane was used to take the side panel surface down to the tenons.

Cindy and I laid out the arc on the lower rail. The end points of the arc were 2 inches from the outer edge and the center was 2 inches above the bottom edge. A flexible, metal yard stick was used to bend the arc for marking out.

The arc was cut with the Bosch jig.

The finished, lower curved rail...this will be used as a template to mark the top curved rail.

Here is the backside of the lower arc rail. Kreg pocket holes have been drilled on the top and side edges.

The top rail will be done in a similar manner except that the center will not have a Kreg pocket hole drilled because it would be visible.

Instead, a screw will go through the top of the cabinet into the rail.

Cindy and I installed the curved rails. Both rails are recessed 1/2 inch off the front edge. The rail was glued and Kreg screwed.



Here the top and bottom arc rails have been installed.
After the carcase was complete, a final two coats of shellace were rubbed on.

After all of the shellac coats were done, the rear bead board panel was secured to the rear of the carcase. The panel fit into a rabbet and was screwed in with #6 by 1 inch screws.


Careful marking of the locations of shelves made it easy to pre-drill and countersink the screws with no location errors.

The drawers are wide, 31+ inches by about 3.5 inches tall. The front is 3/4 radiata pine, the sides and back are 1/2 poplar. The bottom is 1/4 MDF.

Here the pine is being planed to fit into the space in the bookcase.

The drawers will have half blind dovetails.The left cut shown here was pretty easy to set up using a 1:4 Baron saw guide.
But the spacer board was critical to secure the right cuts.
The guide was clamped to the workpiece and the saw guide is used to cut the sockets with the Bad Axe Stilleto.

The back corners of the sockets were finished out by pounding a cabinet card into the angle corners.

The drawer front was set on a block and clamped to the assembly table for a secure hold.

Paring out the sockets at the assembly table.
Drawers built and glued up...sides screwed to the back with #6 screws.

The back edge of the MDF bottom was secured to the rear poplar board with #4 x

The back of the center guide rails was carefully located and then screwed into the rear board with a #6 x 1 inch.

Drawer dry fit...
The front of the center guide was secured from the inside of the drawer with a #6 x
After securing the drawer guide, tweaking tight spots with planes, and lubing with bee's wax the drawers worked quite well.
After the drawers had shellac padded onto the the face and sides the hardware was installed. A jig was used to drill the the jig is aligned at the left edge and at the bottom.
When reversed and aligned at the right end and the bottom the jig was used to drill the holes for the right pulls.
Final Product



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