[Rocket Bookcase] Stage One Assembly

Busy day today!   The Stage I carcass is nearly complete!   I planned on attaching the sides, cutting the curves of the shelves and putting everything together.  And I did, but there was some jig making that had to be done first, which ended up being a permanent bench modification.  Read on, MacDuff…

To get the side panels to fit the design (which was changed after I cut the first curved shelf and realized a side panel 10″ deep would make a really weird look) I ripped the sides (by hand) to 4.25″ wide. It’s much better looking now.

So, using the jigsaw I cut three 16.5″ long shelves, then cut curved fronts leaving 4.25″ sides. The sides of the bookcase needed to be trued up but they were too long to hold in the leg vise alone.

It was time for the board jack (at long last) to be built. Instead of my long planned sliding deadsven (I used some Norway pine to build the leg vise) I opted for a simple expedient jack. I had a 3/4″ dowel laying around, so drilled a hole in a 1×4 plank, and a corresponding hole in the front of the workbench and cut the jack to match the height of the bench. I drilled another hold off a peg to support the workpiece too. I then built a “t” brace with cutoff that fits in the leg vise to match the thickness of the jack.

Here’s the jack:


You can see the board support peg on the right. The peg that holds it fast to the bench is on the right.

Here it is installed and ready for work:


And here’s the “t” brace:


And installed:


It took maybe 15 minutes to whip together and I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner.


Okay…once the board jack was ready, a few quick passes with the planes and I had some straight, square boards for the sides.

Enter the Kreg jig and before long, I had all the shelves and sides attached with pocket hole screws and glue.

I cut the top board to fit, screwed and glued, and here’s the end of day shot:

I spent what time I had left making plans for the next session. This included figuring out the math required to make the curved front of the very bottom part. I first calculated the length of the space (18″) and the height if the curve (5″). This let me figure the radius of the circle (of which the curved part of the bookcase represents a piece of the circumference): 10.6″. Some mental gymnastics later, I had discovered my arc is based on a 65 degree slice of a circle. That means if I want twelve 2″ (roughly) planks to be coopered together, each one has to have two faces sliced at 2.7 degrees. I will plane each stave at 3 degrees, for simplicity’s sake.

When glued together and planed and sanded, like I did making Mom’s medal chest, I should have a nice smooth “rocket” in the end. This one should be quicker because I’m working with pine, not maple!

Time today: 5 hours.

Total time: 7 hours.


About Marcus Richardson

Marcus attended the University of Delaware and later graduated from law school at the age of 26. Since then, he has at times been employed (or not) as: a stock boy, a cashier, a department manager at a home furnishing store, an assistant manager at and arts and crafts store, an unemployed handyman, husband, cook, groundskeeper, spider killer extraordinaire, stay at home dad, and a writer.
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