Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cherry Bookcase Project

I recently started working on a project that’s been sitting around in the basement for ages. I’m pretty sure I only acquired it after I bought the house, so it’s been sitting around less than 3 years, but it’s still just been sitting around patiently (as is the case with many other projects I’ve got).

The project in question is sort of a recycling effort, really. What I took home was formerly the massive upper section of a TV entertainment centre armoire. When I say massive, I mean it (see photos farther down). The main body of the cabinet was 28 3/4" deep 55" high, and 44 1/2" wide (plus the 2" crown around the top). It may not seem that big when you're just reading numbers on a page (or on a screen in this case), but trust me, this is a monster. Some of the biggest armoires I ever put together rarely exceeded 24" deep. This cabinet wouldn’t even fit through a regular 30" wide door. This top part sat on a matching base cabinet, and the full height was probably 7 feet or more (I don't really remember - the owners had cathedral ceilings so it didn't matter). The owners also had 2 matching bookcases.

The cabinet was brought into our workshop for some modifications. Basically, I can’t even remember exactly what the client wanted us to do to it, but it was easier for us to just rebuild a new one than to take it apart and re-cut/modify it. EDIT: Actually now I remember what they wanted us to do, and I have a photo of the new cabinet. Basically they wanted the 55" top cabinet chopped down to something like 20" high with a single fold-down door like a barrister’s bookcase. The original cabinet had two front doors that were on tracks (pocket doors). There were just too many reconfigurations and modifications needed, which is why we made a complete new cabinet.

The new cabinet we made, which has a drop down door, divider, and 2 adjustable shelves.

The “leftover” original cabinet was basically trash, and if none of us wanted it, it was going to be cut-up and tossed in the wood stove.

Since this was a SOLID CHERRY cabinet (with just a few parts in cherry veneered particle board), I decided to salvage it. The only problem was that since it was so big, I had to sort of quickly butcher it and knock it apart to get it home in my coworker’s truck.

Some of the pieces (2 sides, top, bottom, and several bits of mouldings):

This was the top moulding or "crown". Also note how ugly and dreary the floors in the dining room look in comparison.

So then it sat in the basement gathering dust. Until now.

I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it, it was just a matter of having the time and motivation to work on it. Basically, I wanted to transform it into a bookcase. The sides were wide enough to be cut down the middle into perfect bookcase width (12 1/2" interior shelf size) and the height was pretty good at about 5 feet once I put some feet on it. The only issues are that I only have so much material that I can reuse, and I want to try to rebuild the entire thing without needing to buy any new cherry ($$$$). So far so good, but I am going to be missing shelves, and probably also a top, since this cabinet didn’t have a finished top on it originally. I can either make pine or plywood shelves, or MAYBE get some cheap cherry particle board from work (which I’ll need to do for the top). We happen to have a bunch of “less than perfect” cherry veneer stuff that my boss bought on sale years ago for dirt cheap. Otherwise pine will be fine too, since I’ll probably be installing a pine beadboard back.

Work so far:

OK, here's one of the original uncut side panels. The height of the cabinet and width are the same, but this is how deep it was before:

The original knob locations are here:

But I'd much prefer them here:

The holes aren't drilled yet, but what I might do is install the knobs like above, and use the old holes for locks on each door. It will depend if I can find some locks with a usable backset that matches (that means that the keyhole is the right distance from the edge of the door).

The existing leftovers from this cabinet are not the best quality. The joinery is rough, the cuts are uneven, and the sanding job is poor, but I’m not going to make too much efforts to fix it. The finished bookcase will remain a bit “rustic”. It should still look pretty awesome, since it’s relatively hard to make cherry look bad.

I’m really looking forward to having the extra storage for my books. I actually have quite a lot of books, and this one will end up housing all my clock repair books, and probably the woodworking ones as well.

1 comment:

  1. I'm just crazy for these! I only wish I was lucky enough to discover one at a thrift or secondhand store...did your friend take it?