The simplest project in the upcoming “Furniture of Necessity” has required the most study and forethought.
It’s a bookcase, which is a pretty standard piece of furniture. And the typical way of dealing with the different sizes of books is to make the shelves adjustable. I don’t know why, but I don’t like adjustable shelving systems.
Call me a control freak, but the end user can easily set up the shelves to make the whole thing ungainly, top-heavy and dangerous. I’ve seen pieces that I’ve built that were configured so that the heaviest books were up top and the lightweight stuff was perched below. Yikes.
So this design has fixed shelves. There are three shelf-openings for the three primary size ranges of books that I deal with. I end up buying a lot of odd-size books (thank you, daft art directors), and perhaps you do, too. So the openings and the depth of the carcase accommodate the most sizes possible.
The bottom shelf handles the large books, up to an 11” x 17” trim size (which can be a bit larger than that). The middle shelf handles the very odd square books and the American standard 8.5” x 11” trim size (which again is different once you add the cover boards to it). And the top shelf is for the 6” x 9” trim size and smaller.
The other challenge was making the joinery dead-nuts simple. I’ll deal with that in a future post.
Of course, after designing it, my youngest daughter mentioned how this sort of carcase would be ideal for the family’s collection of vinyl records, with the turntable and amplifier on the open top shelf.
Tomorrow morning I start a class I’ve been waiting a long time to teach through the New English Workshop: “The Tool Chest for New Anarchists.” It’s a low-cost class (I don’t think either N.E.W. nor I am making a dime on the course) for 18 new woodworkers.
We’ll spend the week at Bridgwater College in the West Country building a simple tool chest entirely by hand. While the tool chest itself is important, what is more important to me is that we hand off a set of core hand-tool skills.
So in the true spirit of American aesthetic anarchism, I’d like to invite you to follow along this week using all the materials I’ve created for the class.
You can download the 28-page illustrated manual for the class here:
I’ll be posting photos of our progress on the blog and on Instagram using the hashtag #babyanarchists. (You can follow me on Instagram via this link.) I’ve encouraged the students to also use this hashtag if they post photos on social media.
I expect this class to go smoothly. This April I did a trial-run class with the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers to work out the bugs and we managed to build the chest in two days (including painting it). So I am looking forward to being able to work at a steady pace this week with time for detailed instruction. In other words, I left the “punishment whip” at home.
— Christopher Schwarz
PS: Today I had a few hours to walk around the town of Bridgwater and get soaking wet. Below are a few photos. It’s a nice and un-touristy town.