One Project – Three Reasons

Rabbit Rabbit – He was there, so…

I mentioned this project on Saturday, but out of kindness, I decided not to describe it in great detail. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that project descriptions are a slippery slope with me. I’m going to try to either keep this short or interesting. Short is unlikely, and interesting depends on where you fall on the scale of woodworking appreciation. The range goes from “I couldn’t care less” up to “I love that stuff!” If you’re at the lower end, do yourself a favor and skip to the end of the photos. If you lean closer to the loving-stuff side, grab a cup and relax.

Of course, there’s more to this story than my wanting to build a bookcase. The moose out front should have told you. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. The title should have tipped you off to that fact.

I plan to remodel my garage this summer. I’m going to steal 10′ (3m) from behind the cars and combine it with my workshop. That will require removing a wall. That’s fine, I can do that, but the wall is holding a lumber rack on one side. I’m not planning to have a lumber rack in my “new” shop, so the lumber has to go. The best way to make lumber go away is to build furniture. That would be reason number one, if you’re counting.

Reason number two is to test whether or not I will be able to work in the manner in which I’m planning. That would be with my woodworking machines parked against the wall until needed. They are all on wheels; the plan is to wheel them out when needed, use them, clean them and then put them back. It’s those last two steps that scare me. I worked this way this weekend, and I can report that, I think it will work.

The third reason for this project is that I want a bookcase. Yes, yes, I know – I can buy a bookcase at Target – in fact, I can buy a 12″(30cm) bookcase or an 18″(46cm) bookcase. I want a bookcase that’s 17 ½” wide. That’s the space I have to work with.

This will be a mission-style bookcase. I like building mission furniture and because the sides are mostly open, it uses less wood then a standard case. I just happen to have five pine boards that will work nicely. I get a bookcase, and I get five boards off that shelf. Pine is not a traditional wood for mission furniture, but it is what I have. The bookcase will have fixed shelves at the top and bottom and near the center. The top and bottom shelf will have solid connecting rails under/over them. The center shelf will have a drawer under it.

The hand drawn image in the picture below is what I’m working from in the shop. The two sets of illustrations below that were created for your benefit.

This is my working drawing. By the time I’m done, this will be covered with math and notes.

The first illustration shows the rough progression.

The slats are mortised in, and are included in the assembly of the side. This sequence is just for clarity.

The second illustration shows the mortise and tenon joint detail – well at least some of it. Since I don’t really need these drawings to do the work. I didn’t want to spend the time to show that the slats are also mortised into the bottom and middle rail and also into the middle and top rail. You can use your imagination.

Mortise and tenon joints are extremely strong. It’s a mechanical joint with lots of glue surface.

The parts for the case frame have been cut. The mortises have been cut. The mortises on the back stiles are traditional ‘stopped’ mortises – an enclosed pocket. The mortises on the front are ‘through’ mortises (the tenons will protrude ½”). Through mortises are a design feature of mission furniture, like the side slats and like the curved brackets (not shown) that will support the wide overhanging top shelf.

The gallery includes a few work-in-progress photos and some the usual suspects. If you’re a John Candy fan, his 10 seconds are below the gallery.

Note: Most of the equipment shots were staged with the machines off. The picture of the planer was taken from a distance.


  1. With coffee in hand, I read every word and enjoyed it immensely. It is going to be a beauty, and I hope the project goes smoothly. I’m also wondering what your plan is for storing your wood in the new and revised shop because a carpenter needs wood so I know you will have one. :-) I like your bunny friend but hope he doesn’t like the Editor’s garden. Stay well and stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good morning Judy. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I will have small amounts of wood stored, but I’m hoping to get to a point where I buy long boards when I need them. Small lengths can be stored in a variety of places. Once you get to 48″, you really need to devote some valuable wall space. I’d like to avoid that.

      We think the garden veggies are bunny proof. The flowers are not, but The Editor always plants flowers for the bunnies.

      Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the woodworking projects! Like Geometry, I can deal with math that is practical, in other words something solid to attach the values to. It’s the Algebra or algebra’s sake that makes my head spin. Good luck with the book shelf!

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is practical mathematics, Cheryl. Lots of fractions and word problems. “If Dan wants to put two slats between two rails, but only has one board…” “If Dan wants 1 1/2″ between those slats and between the slats and the sides, how wide do the slats need to be?” These are my kind of math problems.

      I hope you have a nice week. Stay safe!


  3. Here’s to your ingenuity and dedication to doing things right. I look forward to watching from afar how these projects go. I like your plan for the bookcase. It’ll be snazzy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ally. I’m going to spread this out do I don’t need a 3,000 word post with 50 pictures. Little bits, here and there. At least that’s the plan. I do like the design, st least until it’s time to stain in between those slats 🙁

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is well planned out and you have the machinery and expertise to construct this book case. I look forward to your next stage.
    Do you already have the books to put in it or is the start of a personal library your next project?

    Liked by 1 person

    • GP, the towering pile on top of my other bookcase will fill about half of this on day-one. My friend said “you could donate the books…” but that’s not how we roll. This is how I imagined things would be. Most of the tools and machines have been collected over 40 years. Now I just need to get the space safe and easy to work in.

      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the explanation! You see, a lot of the furniture in my home is designed by me and made by a friend. I say designed but I really just draw a sketch and tell him what I need and he’s the genius. I really did design two bookcases and they are fabulous. They only fit paperback books (I have a few hundred) and there is a lip at the back instead of a full back. I like the open look but books fall off so: lip. There is also a wider bottom for stability. Really enjoyed the explanation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great idea, Pam (the lip). I’m not sure if I’m going to do a solid back, or a series of several small slats. The slats will look better, but only for a day before the shelf is full.

      Knowing what you want is the hard part. When I had my cabinet shop, I spent hours with people, coaxing out the little details and drawing up sketches and plans. I would have enjoyed having a customer like you.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am in awe of the tools you have amassed over the years. They have all contributed to a variety of fabulous projects. It’s fascinating to read about the intricacies of a mission-style bookcase. Now I’m really anxious to see the finished product.

    The new and improved workshop will be functional plus give you a bit of elbow room. I just am not understanding where ‘surplus’ lumber will be stored. Are you going to build or buy a shed to store lumber in? Someone who works with wood as much as you do HAS to have a dedicated space for scraps at the very least!

    Great pic of the beautiful bunny. Hahaha, Maddie diligently drying off the plant leaves! What a good girl! That Korean dogwood is a beauty.

    Hey! Have you considered making Snoopy either a new home or perhaps a vacation home to help use up some of that lumber?! 🤗

    Looks like a pretty nice weather week coming up. It was 37 degrees here this morning! We had to turn the heat on for our old bones…..ON JUNE 1ST FOR PETE’S SAKE!!

    Stay safe, be happy. Well, you’re knee deep in projects now. No way you wouldn’t be happy!! 😂😂
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    • There will be places for “scraps,” Ginger, but I’m planning to buy long lumber (linger than 40″) only when I need it for a project. We’ll see how that goes. I do have some scrap cedar in the pile. I could make Snoopy a summer home 😏

      Maddie is a pest when I’m trying to get a picture. If I can take it while she’s sniffing something interesting, it’s fine. If I stop her, she gets involved.

      I have multiple outside projects that will keep me busy on nice days. The bookcase is there in case it rains. Once I finish outside, I can get to work on the shop transformation.

      Cold here today, but it felt good walking.

      I hope you have a great week.


  7. You amaze me, Dan–the drawings, the explanations, the gazillion tools! I do like Mission style furniture. It’s heavy but there is a certain delicacy about it. Looking forward to photos of the finished product. John Candy…such a short clip but he owned it, didn’t he? Have a great Monday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I miss John Candy, Lois. Like many others, gone too soon. As for the furniture project, I tried making a living doing this work, but I couldn’t manage. I hope to enjoy this during retirement. There is something about Mission style furniture that speaks to me. It’s simple and intricate at the same time. It’s functional (which I like) and I like the way it looks.

      Enjoy your Monday, and I hope you have a good week.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deborah. I guess Maddie couldn’t resist the water. She doesn’t understand why I take pictures of stuff other than her, anyway. The angle I ended up with was better than the one she licked.

      I don’t mind complicated, when I know what I’m doing. It’s the process of gluing up the sides, when it has to go in the A-B-C-D order that I dread. By the time I’m ready to do the final assembly, the glue is starting to set where I began. I am planning to let the slats float in their mortises. They aren’t structural, and that will give me lots of wiggle room.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. First I thought, moving a wall? Grads! Then I saw a pic of the wall and I hope you have about three more guys to help you. I can almost smell those lovely wood curls. I’m jealous!

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

  9. I loved this furniture stuff. I was hoping you would have time to assemble but guessed all the work getting ready caused time to run out. Your in-process photos are terrific, Dan. Your animal photos are great as well. I enjoyed the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks John. Unfortunately, this is a background project. Moving dirt, laying sod and prepping the shed for a facelift are the main attractions. It does look like we have a couple rainy days coming. That’s when I escape to the shop.

      Like so many things, it’s all in the prep-work. each side will have 14 mortise and tenon joints. Cut, test, sand, test again, glue, assemble, make sure it’s square, and clamp. Glue-assemble-clamp takes about 20 minutes. Getting to that point takes several hours.


  10. Nothing like a woodworking project that allows you to use wood you already own and want to get rid of. Your skills and machinery are amazing. My husband would be so jealous… we just have a two-car garage where we actually park our cars. Projects of any size require both cars to be parked on the street.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ours is a two-car garage, but its 28′ deep. The cars we’re driving fit in 18′ with room to spare. I’ve been keeping the cars out from April to November in order to work. If this works as planned, I’ll actually be able to do woodworking with the cars in the garage.

      The tools are the product of about 40 years of collecting. A little here and there.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Dan, I wish I had your skill. You make carpentry look fun, of course having the necessary equipment helps! :)
    Great photos! Thank you. All smiles…

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is fun, Gwen. I’ve been acquiring the tools over a long time. I have performed most of these operations with hand tools, but the machines do make it easier.


  12. I don’t mind an explanation, which I mostly skim. It’s somewhat more comprehensible than listening to my IT husband try to explain some computer job he’s doing. Actually, it’s quite a bit more comprehensible. However, I look forward to the finished product, which I know will look great and I really like the Mission furniture look (as you know from a few “our house and furniture” photos on Thursday Doors recently.)

    Have fun!


    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m laughing about having moved from the incomprehensible world of IT to the “somewhat more comprehensible” world of woodworking. I’m afraid that’s about as good as it gets for me.

      I do think the bookcase will be nice. Mission furniture has a certain appeal. The craftsmanship is emphasized just a bit. It makes it challenging to build, but rewarding to look at.

      It’s a background project for me at the moment. so it make take some time to finish it, but I am enjoying the process.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Rabbit Rabbit Dan! She’s adorable!!! Thanks for sharing your bunny. Good luck with the bookshelf! :). I can’t wait to watch the progress! P.S. Your pup is adorable too!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What happened to Monday? Sorry I’m late, Dan.
    Ha! Never underestimate the importance of half an inch. I know what you mean. But having something handmade. That’s so wonderful.
    The level of craftmanship and precision in these posts is what fascinates me most. I hope you’re having a terrific Tuesday. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Teagan (no one is ever late here). The 1/2″ is important. To fit 18″ in would require moving the dresser. It has a mirror which is centered between two wall lamps. Having it off-center would drive me crazy!

      The best part about the project will be the fun I have making it. One thing about woodworking, you can’t think about anything else while you’re doing it.

      Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Just when I start to think I’m getting a handle on all things carpentry, you throw out a mortising machine and tenoning jig. I’m coming to the conclusion that you will always manage to introduce something weird and wonderful when I least expect it.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I am one of those “geeks” who loves to follow your projects. I find it fascinating. My grandfather had quite the shop when he retired and use to build a lot of furniture….brings me back to a simpler time!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Yay – we’re seeing a glimpse into what Dan’s world will be like for the summer after retirement! That’s a big project, inside another project. I look forward to seeing the finished project. I’ll stay tuned, I love watching how you think and execute your plans. I’m smiling at the video … our parks are open, but the bathrooms aren’t/weren’t. And no John there to remind the people the place is closed!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. This is a hat trick! You have to use the wood, so you get a bookcase, free up space, and can move out the wall. I would guess that making the slats for the sides are the most difficult part? Beautiful photos, as always, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Iadmire your expertise in the woodworking department. My style would be to buy the 18″ shelf , some Vaseline too , and take a ten-pound hammer to coax the thing in whether it wants to go or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m always impressed by people who can do things I can’t, so yay on your woodworking project. I most enjoyed the photo of Maddie licking the leaves, and your photo of the droplets :)

    Liked by 1 person

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