Looking for design input, please (long)

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The latest honey-do is two sets of Barrister bookcases (three cases next to two cases side by side two sets of each) to be made from cherry. I have begun making wide boards from skinny ones (g) and have 3 sets of plans (magazine how-to's). Problem is they all are designed to be against the wall and SWMBO wants these to act as a sort of room divider, both sides visible. The plans all call for 1/4" plywood backs (and I have no 1/4" cherry ply, nor any easily accessible) but I have a pretty good supply of rough sawn cherry. Question is whether I should go thru the trouble of making a laminated back (re-saw, join for two sides of 1/4 birch ply, etc.) or simply use solid wood (MUCH faster!)... if so eye appeal suggests the grain run vertically to match the sides, but that means edge mating a fair number of narrow boards to arrive at the 34-35" width of the bookcases. It also suggests a far greater range of seasonal movement as compared to running the grain perpendicular to the shelves. What'cha think... Laminate, vertical or horizontal grain? BTW I'm envisioning a frame and panel type placement, with the back panel slid into dadoes. Thanks in advance, Tom
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Tom: It appears that both sides of the cases will be visible, and seeing the back side of a case is not the most esthetically satisfying setup. If you must show the back side, I'd vote for edge gluing to get the 34-35" width for the panels. It means a lot more work in matching the vertical grain, but it will make the best of an unusual situation. As alternatives, why not make the cases double thick, with glass doors on each side, or make twice as many...8-)... and place them back-to-back, or make them as designed and place an open bookcase, plant shelf, knickknack shelf, etc. against the back side?
Bob
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<snip>> Tom:

Hi Bob, thanks for your input... Doubling up is not do-able as there are space limitations... I had also come to the conclusion that edge glueing would be better looking... hadn't considered shiplap as suggested below, it sounds good too! Thanks again, Tom
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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 14:54:50 -0500, "Thomas Bunetta"

A Honey Double-Do? No way.

OK, how about butting a 3/4" solid-edged, inlay-patterned, cherry plywood panel to the back of each vertical set, perhaps held by pocket screws from the inside? That would give you a gorgeous back and lend even more stability to the cases. The inlay could be something suggested by the room it will face. Or maybe a proud-surfaced intarsia look would be more to your or her liking. Either way, it would be a replaceable look which could change as you wanted it to.
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Hi Larry! Your ideas sound beautiful... I don't know if my skills are up to them :>(. This hobby continues to stretch my few remaining gray cells as it is <G> Tom
spake the words:

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On Thu, 2 Dec 2004 05:51:14 -0500, "Thomas Bunetta"

Skills? What are those? Just Do It! Use thicker inlay resawn from your own wood. That flimsy veneer stuff they sell is way too finicky for the likes of us. Resaw to 1/2", inlay 7/16", and plane/scrape/sand to suit.

As it should. ;)

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into
Hi Tom,
I recently fixed an old book case with a back made from roughly 1/4" pine. The back is about 36" wide and 40" tall. It had shrunk over the years in width by 1/2 to 3/4 ".
After cutting out the broken piece, I inserted a new piece of pine which went much easier then expected (just had to slightly clamp it on a flat surface before applying pressure over the width).
So gluing-up the wide back in solid wood should not cause a problem.
Anyhow, watching the amount of shrinkage over that width would make me split the back into half and have a support in the middle of the bookcase rebated on both sides to allow for movement of the back.
Have fun
Matthias
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<snip>

Hi Matthias,
I plan to look up the tangential shrinkage for cherry (proper term?) and would accomodate with a deep enough dado and a wide enough edge (raised panel) or if suggested below I go shiplapped (still thinking how best to impliment that one) leave enough wood so annual changes will not show. The pieces will be pre-finished (planning on a wash coat of super blonde shellac, tung oil and either more shellac or possibly the mix DJM touts so highly) so expantion and contraction won't reveal unfinished wood. Thanks for your thoughts, Tom
Thanks for your input, Tom

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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 08:51:19 -0500, "Thomas Bunetta"

I would run the grain horizontal, but do raised panels if you're going to use solid wood.
-Leuf
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Leuf Wrote:

Gluing up a solid back could very well resort in problems due t seasonal changes in the width of the back. If you have never built raised panel door and are not tooled for the task, you may want t consider going with a flat panel approach with mortise and tenons. Make sure that the panels are not glued into the frame, so they ca expand and contract. You may even want to pre-finish the panels.
Good luck
-- makesawdust
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I'm equipped to make raised panels (and have made a few)... I will need to look up the expansion -contraction rates for cherry to make proper allowances. Your suggestion of pre-finishing is a given. Thanks for your help, Tom
wrote:

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<snipped 4 BW>

Hi Leuf, A curiosity... do you think the horizontal grain would look as good as vertical (it would be a lot easier, and shrinkage and expantion will be reduced due to narrower tangential cross section. Thanks for your time, Tom
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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 15:26:18 -0500, "Thomas Bunetta"

I think that the grain usually runs vertically simply because panels are usually longer vertically. Consider the other pieces in the room. If it's going to be adjacent to something else with the grain going vertically I might convince myself it was worth matching it, but I think I would break up the panels with one or more stiles. I think that might end up looking too busy though, on top of being a heckuva lot more work and I would have talked myself back into going horizontal.
Or perhaps you could leave the backs unfinished and make a free standing room divider to put behind them. Could end up being more useful down the road if you rearrange things at some point.
-Leuf
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Thomas Bunetta wrote:

why put a back on it at all? put a small 1/4 or so lip on both sides of the bottom shelf and put boos in from both sides, or build 2 books cases back to back, also from what I understand if you put a cherry stain on Birch it comes very close to looking like cherry or birch plywood may be a thought
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<snip>> why put a back on it at all?

You don't know my SWMBO! One of the designs is for frame and panel ends... one look and she exclaimed "I don't want to dust all those edges!!!" Made my life easier! <BG> The back must be enclosed, wood, glass or something! The width of a double unit is not feasible due to space limitations. I'd thought about trying to stain birch ply, but then I'd have to (shudder) stain Cherry <gasp>... If I did that, every Klown Hammer from the Cabal would smite me and the Ghost of Paully Rad would forever haunt me! Thanks for your assistance, Tom
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I would use either vertical shiplaped boards (1/8" space) or frame and panel. Either would be historically correct and pleasing to the eye.
--
Alan Bierbaum

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<snipped> Hi Alan, The shiplapped idea had not occured to me, Thanks! If frame and panel, vertical or horizontal grain? Thanks for sharing, Tom
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Traditional panel would be vertical grain. However, this also typiciall assumes the panel has a vertically longer aspect ratio.
Earlier I suggested one center stile. I thought about that later and here is more astehetic (sp?) input.
If you go to a single center stile, you "could" make it 1.5-to-2x the width of the side stiles. To be really accurate you should use the golden ration of 1.6 something. Or you could break up the back into three panels, then use the same width for all 5 stiles.
BW

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Hi Bill, Thanks for thinking about this! A friend suggested I match up enough boards (5-7" in length) to "slice off" the smaller widths which would then be vertically aligned and "flow" from one case to the other. (Much easier than all those separate glue ups.) What'cha think? Thanks, Tom

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Not sure I completly follow but I think I do. If you are saying you'll use vertical aligned boards across the back and cut them so the board on the top case is cut from the same piece as the piece on the case below, etc so if you stack the cases in the proper order you can see the grain lines match up, that is brilliant.
I built a really big (ugly) all Oak piece on contract for some real estate office that had a hug top 3' wide by 8' long. On the front it had a set of legal file drawers on each side and a double set of doors at the center, typical FF construction. For the top I built a frame, with cross members aligned witth the front (and back) stiles. Then I floated some MDF in the frame, layed in 1/4" oak ply and trimed each panel where it met the frame with a 1/8" wide Cherry inlay, so while it looked a bit like frame and panel it was all sanded flush.
All that being said to indicate that the only pride I got out of the design was that I sliced the 3 inlayed oak panels for the top all from the same piece of ply, and I also calculated and cut out the gap for the stiles and cherry inlay. It relly looked cool because you could really tell it was from one piece. I think if I just cut it in three pieces, then laid them in 3-4" apart, the grain cathederals wouldn't have flowed nearly as nice.
You should do the same with your vertical pieces (if I followed correctly), figure out the exact distance between the visible portions of the boards accounting for the top and bottom of each case (and any feet, etc) and cut that much out of each piecs so it truly looks continuous, just having some portions hidden in a sense.
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