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Custom built-in bookcases

Built-in bookcases with seats I built a few years ago -

Materials: oak, oak ply, MDF, japanese ash veneer ($17 on eBay!!), Old Masters golden oak stain, satin polyurethane sanded to 600-grit, Clapham's furniture wax. Done, of course, on my BT3000, though I've swapped out the router for a Bosch 1617EVS.

custom built-in bookcases, oblique view

custom built-in bookcases, front view

custom bookcase, figured Japanese ash panel detail

Learning to veneer on something as open-grained as Japanese ash: bleed-through was awful. Still, it was a great experience, and I think the results look great, as well.

built-in corner bookcase with seat, oblique viewbuilt-in corner bookcase with seat, front view

corner built-in bookcase, Japanese ash panel detail

I'd never thought or intended to mix ash with oak - but I did want something special. The inspiration for this piece was a classic walnut bookcase I first spotted in Today's Woodworker (issue 52, 1997) but that I've seen in other magazines since; walnut burl veneer was used between the rosettes. So I checked eBay (search: veneer), lost a bid on some bosse burl veneer (fortunately) and this popped up:

Tamo or Japanese ash veneer

Color looked right, figure was beautiful, and it had a really lustrous quality - the one above is the worst of the batch of 8 sheets!

Of course, I didn't know how well it would work until I stained and finished a small piece ... but at $17 for the batch, well, if it didn't work I'd use it for something else.

I did a little research, learned ash is very much like red oak: (usually) straight-grained, open grain, relatively the same density, workability, and finishes well.

Veneering was a bit of a pain, and I also learned that Tamo veneer does not like to be sanded, especially against the grain: made a fuzzy, hairy mess. I almost lost one panel, but careful work with a sharp cabinet scraper fixed it.

For those interested: I decided not to mess with hide glue (but might in the future, with open-grained woods - bleed-through's probably easier to correct), and used BetterBond veneer glue from VeneerSupplies.com. It *did* work, though the post-glue work was more than I would have liked. I highly recommend Joe, and his web site, to anyone interested in veneering.

Also, my gratitude to Kirby Gaal (derwood7 on eBay - and yes, he's still actively selling on eBay) for his beautiful veneer and excellent service. You should see the Claro walnut and mappa burl I picked up for almost nothing!

- PD
 


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