Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bookcase Beginnings

My wife had been very patient for several years as I embarked on a number of cabinets. Most of which wound up in the basement. I was reluctant to make anything for her early on since I wanted to wait until my skills improved to the point that we would both be happy with what I made for her! I guess as we saw the maple cabinet coming together it seemed like things had finally reached that point.

So she put in a request for a bookcase! Not the curvy cabinet I was mulling over in my mind, but I think I can do a bookcase. I did some research and presented her with several ideas. We both liked the frame and panel style bookcase by Peter Zuerner featured on the cover of the February 2003 Fine Woodworking. It was done in with cherry frames and shelves, and Doug fir panels.

I have a garage full of slabs that I chainsawed up with my Alaska mill. But I did not have anything wide and long enough to make the frames up. Unbelievable! So I had to swallow my pride and buy something. I chose sapele at PJ White.

Then for the panels, I agonized and agonized. I wanted to make each panel out of a single piece of wood. They are all 54" tall, the two large panels are 18" wide. I had some oak that would work, but the grain graphics were not right. I then seriously thought about compromising and glueing up some old growth red cedar I had. Beautiful tight (45 per inch) vertical grain, but it turned out that I could not get enough in a consistent colour. I had never really paid attention to the fact that red cedar comes in a range of hues!

Finally after exploring several other ideas, my eyes came to rest on some elm slabs I had harvested with a friend. I had already given several away and they had gone to good use, but I had enough left that I could get the four panels I needed. I wasn't sure about the colour match between the elm and the sapele though. The elm seemed too 'black' to me, there wasn't enough red in it. But when I put them together to see, I saw that it will work fine. The elm has enough brown in it that the redness of the sapele will look good with it. It's not too black at all.

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