Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 5, Issue 2
   November 2010
   Mission Style Bookcase

  Mission Style bookcase and rocking chair
  This Mission Style rocking chair inspired the design for the bookcase.
After completing a Mission Style cherry and walnut rocking chair (see Volume 3 Issue 2), my most valued client, my wife, suggested that a new bookshelf would be useful. I wanted it to reflect some of the rocker's design features, while retaining a distinctive custom feel and providing the versatility to accommodate varying book sizes.

I started the bookshelf design process by re-examining the chair. The rocker's vertical frame pieces (legs and back slats) are cherry, while most of the horizontal pieces (seat rails, back rails and arms) are walnut. There are decorative and functional wedged through tenons in the arms, and figured cherry is displayed on the back slats; otherwise, the design is free of ornamentation. All exposed edges are simply eased or rounded over to varying degrees.

The primary considerations for the bookshelf design were that it emulated those of the rocker; it could be made with the lumber I had; and it would fit in the intended space in our living room. With this in mind, I started sketching, making at least a dozen rough drawings of various bookshelf configurations. Eventually, my wife and I decided on a design with three vertical cherry frame members that would support two columns of adjustable walnut shelves.

I began laying out the bookshelf by selecting three pieces of lightly figured cherry to use for the vertical frame members. These were intended to mirror the vertical pieces on the rocker. I left the outer two vertical pieces long to allow for through tenons that would match the tenons on the rocker arms. The bottom shelf fits in 1/4" deep dados in the side pieces, and hidden triangular support blocks glued and nailed underneath provide strength and slightly increased racking resistance.
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