Tucked between my trips to both coasts and editing Peter Galbert’s in-fricking-credible book on chairmaking I’ve been building this folding campaign bookcase in sapele for an article in Popular Woodworking Magazine.
The bookcase looks so simple: two boxes that are hinged together. Truth is, this has been one of the most challenging pieces I’ve built in a long time. Most of the joinery is just dovetails, easy-peasy. But the backs of the cases attach to the carcase with a wack-a-doodle joint that has no name. I call the joint “banjo.” If you think that is a reference to the film “Deliverance,” you might be correct.
But what’s been even more mind-bending have been the mechanical aspects of the piece. For everything to work, the adjustable shelves and drawers have to clear the glass doors when pulled out. The hinge barrels of the glass doors have to be placed precisely to allow them to open fully without binding against the case and yet allow the two halves of the bookcase to close tightly.
And all the hardware (there’s a buttload) has to co-mingle, sometimes in unexpected ways. I destroyed the edge of a chisel while mortising the strikes for the door locks. I kept trying to lever out a little piece of waste that wouldn’t budge. Turns out the “waste” was a screw.
Like many campaign pieces, this one has more than 30 pieces of hardware that have to be mortised flush. After writing a book on campaign furniture, that’s easy. What was hard was what happened when I opened a new bag of brass screws that were decidedly soft. Within a few minutes I had four screws that were buried in the work with broken heads.
Good thing I have this screw extractor. I bought this in the 1990s from Woodworker’s Supply and it is the only one I’ve ever used that works (for me).
Today I’m dovetailing the two drawers and cleaning up the exterior for its finish (shellac and wax). I am sure I’d make my April 15 deadline if I didn’t have to go to Canada on Thursday.
Yup. I’ll be at the new Lee Valley store west of Toronto this weekend to conduct a couple of seminars and hang out with our northern neighbors. The address of the new store is: 167 Chrislea Road, Vaughan, ON L4L 8N6. Here is my schedule:
Friday, April 11, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Everything You Need to Know About Workbench Design
Friday, April 11, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Book Signing & Meet & Greet
Saturday, April 12, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
An Introduction to Campaign Furniture
Megan Fitzpatrick, the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, will also be there conducting a seminar on her recent adventures in kitchen cabinetmaking. Reading her accounts of it on her blog make me want to move into an apartment where I never have to work on my kitchen.
So all this is the long way of saying: Sorry I haven’t answered your e-mail during the last few months. I do answer all e-mails. But I still have about 40 in the queue.
— Christopher Schwarz