I love pine … its smell, workability, luster; there’s a feel to the wood that’s hard for me to describe. As a kid growing up in far northern Minnesota, we had a huge white pine in the yard, the tallest tree for miles. Until I saw a real redwood, I couldn’t imagine a bigger tree on the planet. It was the first tree I ever hugged, and it wasn’t the last, either. The longleaf pine lumber in this bookcase is a bit different, somewhat like red pine but denser and heavier, with a workability similar to Eastern slope Douglas fir. Not the wood you want to do acanthus carving on, but perfect for furniture if you like simple lines with warm tones, lots of luster and straight grain.
I built this project using a combination of hand and power tools as well as Rob Johnstone’s new Festool Domino® loose-tenon joinery system. I’ll admit to being a bit of a snob when it comes to my joinery methods, but I came away impressed with the Domino Joiner’s quality and ease of operation. If you don’t own a Domino Joiner, you could use dowels instead to build this bookcase.
Prototyping and Selecting Stock
Prior to even picking lumber, I put together a full-scale MDF prototype. It gives you an ideal chance to figure out what you’re trying to create before you start cutting into the good wood. I decided that a simple Craftsman-style design would lend itself well here, and breadboard ends would be a nice decorative touch for the top.
Once I was satisfied with the design, I selected nice 3/4″ quartersawn stock from Rob’s longleaf stash. One thing about longleaf’s straight, parallel grain is that it’s easy to lose the details in all those psychedelic grain lines, and the tangentially sawn surfaces have a tendency to look like grain patterns you see in CDX plywood — not the effect I wanted. So, I recommend choosing stock carefully for each of the project parts. For the top and shelving, choose boards with an attractive leading edge grain. On the other parts, find stock with grain angled in relation to the vertical by 20° or so.
Starting with the Posts
Notice that the bookcase posts are actually three face-glued strips of 3/4″ stock with a fourth strip that serves as veneer to cap the “show” edge. I did this to achieve a wraparound quartersawn grain pattern on the three visible sides of each post and hide the glue lines.
To make them, glue up four blanks for your posts (pieces 1), with one of the outer pieces on each blank chosen to resaw for the thin veneer cap. Square up your post blanks on the jointer, and resaw them to a thickness of 11-3⁄16″.
The offcut should give you a nearly 1/4″-thick veneer piece for each post. Glue the veneer in place and trim off the overhang with a router and piloted flush-trimming bit.