Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Little Man's Built-In::Part 2

Today, I'm happy to tell you that Blair is writing another guest post for me!  He's gracious enough to walk you through his building process of the bookcase we've been working on for Little Man.

...<drum roll>... It's The One... The Legend... The Shop Smith! I love this thing! My father-in-law GAVE it to me, and I am eternally grateful for the gift. I am the third generation to have owned it and used it, and I think that's way cool! It's a table saw, a wood lathe, drill press, jointer, disc sander, and a horizontal borer all in one machine built circa 1947. 

I'm carrying on about this machine because I love it so much, and because I used it to complete every wood cut I needed for this built-in bookcase project. I didn't want to do an interior project completely cold turkey on a machine with which I was not familiar, so I built a sizable cold frame, minus the glass top, to become acquainted with the saw. After I accustomed myself with the saw, I commenced with the built-in bookcase. 
   Now, what you need to know about me is that I loooooove to think about finished projects...the way they're gonna look by they're gonna look in the functional space...the scent of freshly cut lumber and, yes, paint (but not too much paint!)...ahhhh...good times. What I often am naive and unaware of is the process of getting from pieces to painted project, so I figure out building technique as I go. That makes for some entertainment around our house. I had shop class in 9th grade, and, well, it's time for me to face the fact that 9th grade was a fair piece of history ago for me, and it isn't getting closer than it was yesterday, but I have had instruction in power tool technique & shop safety. I have also helped my parents on a small scale (as a 9, 10,  or 11 yr. old boy) build a house. But projects on my own where I design, plan, and build it all...not-so-much beyond a bird feeder I made in the 4th grade with wood scraps from the afore mentioned house building project. So here we go...

I took this project VERY slowly, as I wanted to become more acquainted with the Shop Smith and the process of woodworking/ furniture building. The above picture is a technique I found on the DIY Youtube channel of cutting dado joints with a router...and from the last woodworking project within this blog, you all know how I feel about using the router...I LOVE IT!

To get the shelves to fit in the dado joints I had to file down the edge which was assigned to the dado slot.

Once all filed, voilà! A recognizable bookcase begins to enter the picture.

Things really begin to get exciting when you start the painting.

I decided to use bead board for backing to strengthen the case and it just looks so attractive!

I tore out the moulding...

...received a practical overview of trigonometry by standing the thing up inside Little Man's room (I built the thing exactly the distance from floor to ceiling...a mathematical hardship that I will let the textbooks explain), and applied glue to the backing rails for added support...

...slid the bookcase in place...

...and began adding trim work. 

*Short side-note from Rachel:  The wall and bookcase aren't actually leaning in real life.  Apparently I'm just physically incapable of holding the camera level.*

   Ok...all that sounds easy and fairy-tale like. But in all actuality, this bookcase taught me a whole lot:

1. You can NEVER put too much planning on paper, and you know you haven't put enough on paper when you use words like, "attach" and "install" without any sort of process behind those actions.

2. The jointer is your friend. Use it. I was reluctant to use it because it was unfamiliar territory on the Shop Smith. I have since become more familiar with it and will certainly use it in the creates the COOLEST sawdust ever!

3. Trim work can be tricky. It's worth taking your time. I took my time and made all the right 45-degree angle cuts, but I did a fair amount of second-guessing myself.

All in all, this was a fun project, and I do want to do similar ones in the future. Thank you to my dear wife for putting up with the sawing, the "Grr! Why won't this just work!?" and for the opportunity to write again in her brilliant blog!

*If you all show up again tomorrow, I will have a full before and after feature of the room for you.  I can't WAIT to share the finished product!!


  1. Now, you all know I'm not a woodworker, but I DO appreciate fine cabinetry...and Blair did a most excellent job with this bookcase!!! So happy that he is putting the Shop Smith to good use :) It looks terrific!!!

  2. Oooooh,the wait! You, bloggers... Assigning we minions to the wait... Ugh. But I will be back here tomorrow. Guaranteed.;-)