In the books

Thus far in my woodworking adventures I’ve only really tackled single projects one at a time. The current commission marks the first “suite” of pieces I’ve constructed, although it finally feels like it’s moving along at a decent pace and I’m experiencing that as inertia pulling me towards completion.

Last week I put the finishing touches on the bookcase by nailing the back fast, leveling all the dado joints at the front and giving it a final finish.


I was able to get the back out of three beautiful 3/4″ boards which were fit with beaded tongue and groove joints.

The outer two were glued to the carcase sides and then all three were nailed into each shelf. Two nails, per board, per shelf meant for 18 perilous pilot holes but careful layout brought everything together just fine. I nailed the outer two back boards down first so that I could use the shelf and visible dado trough as layout prompts to help keep me straight, and then used my straightedge to layout lines on the middle board based on the dado troughs alone.


Because these nails need to impart strength, but won’t be seen, I chose 6d box nails from Tremont. They’re not as fancy as the headed nails on the sides but they provide more than enough strength and look pretty cool in their own right.

Crossed fingers and confident strikes from my trusty old Plumb hammer brought everything home.

I’m excited about how this came together and and I’m really pleased with how “mid-century” the design looks when executed in walnut. That was my intuitive sense about the thing, but it’s nice to have confirmation in three dimensions.


After a final once over with wax I added my makers mark, moved it to the corner and threw a sheet over it while I get back to work on the desk. My next few weeks will be full of octagons and giant  sliding dovetails, but it feels really good to have half of the project in the books.



8 Comments Add yours

  1. Looks Great – couple of questions: what was your reasoning behind nailing the shelves in place rather than just glue in the housing or sliding dovetails (apart from the extra work involved)? and where did you get your logo stamp made – love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The original design in ‘The Anarchist’s Design Book’ from which this is derived uses nails on the shelves and the rail and kick. The person for whom I am building these really liked that the nails gave it sort of a Greene and Greene vibe, so we compromised. nails on the shelves and tails on the rail and kick for strength.

      I wouldn’t mind building a version of the design with sliding dovetails instead. In fact, I proto-typed it that way but went back to the original design cues.

      I will say that I’m a fan now that it’s complete. It really adds some visual interest to the sides and sets it off as hand crafted.


    2. I meant to add that I got the stamp on Etsy. There are some great options for custom made stamps that I’m exploring, but I kind of like the idea that this one fits just about anywhere.


  2. erikhinkston says:

    Spectacular build as always, man I really love that makers mark. I want to come up with something cool like that, you’ve got me thinking. The skep is such a great symbol for the worker, so many ways to apply the story to life and the craft. Good on ya mate!


  3. It really turned out fantastic Jim. I also love the stamp. Did you work on the design on your own or with a designer? It’s something I’ve been toying with but branding is a bit out of my element so if you have any suggestions I’m all ears. Thanks.


    1. Shawn, I’m almost embarrassed to say that this is a stock stamp. The Skep has been such an iconic symbol for me during the past year that it was a natural choice.

      IMO good branding is about telling a cohesive story.


      1. When life makes things easy, the last thing you should be is embarrassed. Thanks for the info.


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