Saturday, March 1, 2008

Simple Bookcases

I recently had the opportunity to build a pair of simple bookcases for a friend. Nothing extraordinary in the way of design, just simple, well constructed, solid bookcases.

A white oak, with English oak stain, lock-mitered top, dove-tailed bottom shelf, and the pair bolted together, with a common top.

It is actually a standard style that we make at the shop, except for the common top (ours are usually tall enough that a top doesn't work well).

The exciting part about these bookcases, besides knowing exactly who I was making them for, was that I took the whole thing through myself.

Normally I will pick the wood out, shape it, and contsruct the piece, but then hand it off to one of our dedicated sanders, and from there off to our finishing team. This time, I did everything, even learning that our English oak stain, isn't just one stain, it's three. Two coats of medium walnut brings out the browns (it almost looks orange at that stage), followed by a coat of black walnut to darken things out, with a final coat of danish oil to bring back the luster and shine up the piece.

It was interesting to be doing the whole process, and to note that the construction time is about equal to the sanding time, which is a little less than the finishing time.

The thing with finishing is, it's hard. It takes a while to wipe on and off the finish on just two 36x36 bookcases. After even just a short while my hands would cramp up, my elbow was a bit sore, and the fumes were getting to me.

I guess when I'm able to start my own place I will have to figure out how to make the finishing part less of a chore.

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