Friday, December 5, 2014


No doubt you will all be judging me as to the content (or lack) of my shelves.
So a while back (long enough ago that I actually am not 100% sure what year) I decided that I needed a bookcase of some quality. Honestly, it was probably around senior year in college, but I'm not sure. In any case, I built this maple and walnut bookcase. Details and pics after the jump.

Geek cred positives: LOTR, H.P. Lovecraft, Dark Tower; most of my collection is not represented on this shelf for various reasons.
This was actually one of the first things that I built with the maple-walnut/dark-light contrast. I realize that the designs I tend toward are rather one-note: dark-light, mahogany-maple, walnut-maple. It's a personal style thing. I tend to prefer clean simplicity in lines and forms with an emphasis on natural wood grains and colors. Also, I have a serious love of art deco design and even when I'm not setting out to make an art deco piece, the style tends to inspire the design for my personal use. This bookcase was for my personal use, and so, it reflects the light-dark coloration, simple lines, art deco inspired feet, and an emphasis on the natural coloration of the materials used.

Speaking of the feet...
Broadly speaking, when you build an open-faced box, like a cabinet, wine rack, or bookcase, the box is called the "carcass." Many times (e.g. all of the wine racks that I've built or posted) I've designed the carcass to sit on the ground. Not so with this bookcase; I decided to lift it up onto feet. In this design, four feet, built of walnut, suspend the bookcase and give it a slight "floating" look.

This picture should both show off the "float" and contrast the walnut with the mahogany on the wine rack.
Using a band saw and a belt sander, I gave the legs a taper. The angles are evocative of the art deco style that I love. For a long time I considered this to be the finest design and finest technical execution of anything I'd tried to make.

Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) and Band of Brothers shouldn't hurt my cred either.
I do know that this design roughly corresponded with law school (I know, reminder that I'm a lawyer = hatred fuel for the reader) because I intentionally spaced the shelves so that the large lawyer books would fit. The spacing means that I sacrificed the piece's efficiency at holding the greatest number of books for the ability to hold at least some quantity of books of almost any size. Aesthetically, this actually means that more of the bookcase is visible, even when it is fully laden with books.

Gratuitous photo
I would be remiss if I didn't discuss the stunning beauty of walnut. It deserves (and eventually will get) its own post, but the photo above shows the complex figure and rich, dark, natural color of the material. To finish the piece it got nothing more than a few coats of gloss polyurethane which served only to bring out the natural colors. Also, look at the photo with the caption "speaking of the feet;" it gives another excellent example of the beauty of walnut's grain.

As always, I'd be more than happy to build a bookcase for you to order. Just email me and let me know what you want and I'll quote you a price.

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