Tag Archives: 2015

Mid-Century Modern Book Case in Popular Woodworking

Popular Woodworking October 2015 Cover

The October 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine includes my article on building a Mid-Century Modern book case.

The October 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine features my article on building an open-backed book case (it also works as a room divider) in the Mid-Century Modern style. I’ve detailed parts of the build on 1910 Craftsman, but the article goes into depth on step-by-step construction. I’m in good company in this issue–I enjoyed Jeff Miller’s article on the slat-back chair and am sorely tempted by Lee Valley’s new trammel points.

You can read the introduction to my article on the issue index or order a copy from shopwoodwhorking.com. This case is one of 29 designs featured in my book Mid-Century Modern Furniture, which is available on Amazon and shopWoodworking.com.

A Greene and Greene-inspired arbor

Option 1: beam with single step.

This design features a single step and rounded beam end.

We’ve been contemplating an arbor to provide some visual separation between our house and the neighbors (small lot sizes are not a problem unique to modern times–Early 20th century developers are sometimes as guilty of maximizing the number of lots as their spiritual descendants). We like the idea of Wisteria in the landscape, but too many horror stories about lifted houses and ruined porches have dissuaded us from growing it on the house.

Image searches for “Craftsman arbor” and “Greene & Greene arbor” provided some inspiration, and I settled in to SketchUp to model a couple of variations. Both share the same basic layout with posts on eight-foot centers and the top beams staggered provide a little visual interest. A secondary beam below the first provides another path for vines. The first alternative features a simple step down on the rounded beam end, while the second features a stepped taper on the beam end. We are leaning toward the stepped taper design. If only post-and-beam construction were as easy as modeling something in SketchUp . . .

Option 2: beam ends with double stepped tapers.

This design features a double stepped taper on the beam end, but the basics of the design remain the same as the first option.

Shaker Peg Board

shaker peg board.

A three-inch strip of lightly-chamfered and painted poplar serves as the base of the peg board.

I’ve wanted some method for storing yard implements for some time, but I wanted something with more appeal than the utilitarian plastic and metal options available. I finally decided that Shaker peg board would make a nice alternative. I ordered some maple pegs online, but only afterward did it occur to me that even my best free-hand drilling attempts were likely to leave the pegs at least slightly off-center and a bit splayed. So I deferred and other projects intervened until I had access to a drill press and was ready to build. Consulting Thomas Moser’s How to Build Shaker Furniture and John Shea’s Making Authentic Shaker Furniture, I decided on a three-inch wide board with the pegs set 6″ on center.

Actual construction went quickly. After ripping some poplar to width, I planed away the machine marks on the show side of the board, ran a chamfer around its perimeter and hit it with a quick pass of 220 grit sandpaper before priming and painting. I then marked the location of the pegs using dividers and a square, then drilled them out with a 1/2″ Forstner bit. I had contemplated different fastening techniques, ranging from a French cleat, to plugged screw holes, when it occurred to me that  each peg was an effective plug. So I drilled pilot holes in every few peg holes, positioned the board on the wall, and marked the concrete wall. Even with a hammer drill, it took some time to drill holes for masonry anchors. With the anchors finally set, I screwed the board to the wall and tapped the pegs into place with a wooden mallet.

Tansu-Inspired Tool Chest–Construction

Detail of a tansu-inspired tool chest.

Modern construction techniques belie a design inspired by tradition. Locking miters join the case and dadoes house the many dividers.

With the front of the case divided into doors and drawers, I was ready to begin construction. Construction of the cabinet provided an opportunity to clear out the 1/2″ cherry veneer plywood I’d accumulated over the course of several projects. Continue reading

Tansu-Inspired Tool Chest–Design

tansu tool chest

The asymmetrical layout of tansu provides inspiration for this tool chest.

The footings of my foundation extend inward about 16 inches at the back of my basement, forming a shelf-like space below the window behind my workbench. It’s a convenient space, but it tends to collect everything–tools, glue, fasteners, dust, etc. So I’ve been contemplating another tool chest build to fit the space (roughly 12″h x 38″w X 12″d) for some time. Since I’m in between projects, it seemed like a good thing to do; it would also let me clear some of the cherry plywood leftover from my last couple of Mid-Century Modern Builds. Since I’m also working on a class on tansu design and construction for Popular Woodworking University, I’ve had asymmetrical case design on my mind. After some iterating in SketchUp, I think I’ve settled on this basic layout: cupboard on the left, many drawers on the right. Many drawers. Many, many drawers . . .