Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bookcases: Project in Review

I don't normally write a capstone entry for a project. But I don't normally get a project like this one. There are bookcases, and there are Bookcases. These are the latter. And, it's not every day that I get a project that really allows me to stretch my creative muscles, and do some real problem solving.

I'd used sliding dovetail joints before, on narrow pieces, but never really had the chance to work with the real-deal housed tapered dovetail joint in carcase construction. I'd seen this type of joint cut before, but seeing one done, and doing several in an actual piece is a different story, and there's a lot that I learned about just what factors need to be borne in mind during the process.

Starting with making the tool that allowed me to do the joint, this is a really cool technique that I've been dying to learn for years, and hadn't had the opportunity. I will revisit the dovetail plane, I think I'd prefer it if the blade skewed the other way, but I'm not going to rebuild the existing plane. I'll probably make a new version with another skew rabbet plane that I own.

This is definitely a joint that I'll be using again.

It's been a while since I've gotten to do any serious tool making. The dovetail plane and the flush cutting plane both were a lot of fun to make and use. 

I'd been wanting to carve stopped flutes for some time. I've seen them on a lot of really fine work before, but hadn't had the chance to use them, or figure out how I was going to go about it. I had a few ideas on how I thought I would carve them, and some of those methods will be revisited sometime soon, but not just yet. My final technique surprised me.

I haven't had to install moldings on such wide solid panels before, and never had to take the time to work out the details of the dovetail keys, or the details of the base molding.

Lastly, I hadn't worked with inset tops made of a different material before. It wasn't such a huge technical challenge as the other details, but I will say that they made a huge aesthetic difference, and the mix of materials looks a lot finer in person than something that's entirely made of wood. And I can say that it felt really nice when I delivered the bookcases to see the tops slide neatly, and precisely into place. 

Looking back, there's a lot that went into this project, and it was a real joy to do all of it. And, somewhere in the middle, my son Gabe showed up, and that's put a brand new spin on a lot of things.

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