Paul Sellers Bookcase

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    Hey all-

    My Paul Sellers Bookcase just came out of the clamps today. My daughter does a lot of reading, far more than I ever did at that age (don’t tell her that) – so the bookcase will be for her numerous books of fiction. It will hang against a wall in her room.

    Paul’s method for making the housing dados worked very well for me, but a few of my dados came out slightly too tight. I ended up taking one shallow shaving off the bottom face of those shelves (using a moving filister plane) to make them fit. Most of the dados came out perfect, so I felt as if I was doing something right.

    I diverged from the DVD plan by adding a half-round to the front of all the shelves and the top and bottom. One bookshelf in the DVD’s cutaways has half-rounds, and I felt it had more of a finished appearance. I deliberately left the half round off the sides of the top and bottom so the corner would be stronger.

    Glue-up had some of those moments where the glue “freeze” sets in as your spouse calls on the phone as your fumbling around with your clamps and looking for your hammer at the same time. Paul’s “Don’t Panic” comment came to mind as I used some of his coffee table methods to make the glued joints behave. After a calm “I’ll call you right back”, a loosening a few clamps, a few taps with a wood block and hammer, and things came back together nicely. Everything was square and my wife not offended. πŸ˜‰

    After the clamps were removed, I spotted a few areas of squeeze-out in hard to reach areas, so I spent an hour grinding and sharpening a left and right skew chisel out of a few 1/4″ haggardly chisels that I saved for just an occasion. I had to fit chisel handle to an old Stanley 750 socket chisel and realized that my technique for fitting a chisel handle is very similar to Paul’s method for sharpening a pencil. The skew chisels proved very handy for those inside corners, and should be even more handy when I brave a half-blind dovetail in the future.

    Tomorrow I will start the finishing process. Originally I was thinking that I would paint the shelf, which would give me an opportunity to hide some minor imperfections, but my daughter decided that she likes the natural grain. I may just use shellac only. I’ve never finished anything this big with shellac before. Wish me luck.

    -Scott Los Angeles


    Scott your bookcase looking just Great) all joints nice and tight. Good Luck with finishing and thank you for sharing with us.

    Toronto, Canada


    bookcase looks great Scott,good luck with the finish

    Lopik - Netherlands


    Nice work Scott, good job.

    maurice watherston

    Magic πŸ™‚

    Mark Armstrong

    Very neat tidy job looks great in shellac give a nice little sheen to shelf. πŸ˜‰

    Dagenham, Essex, England


    Thanks everyone for the comments. I’ll post more pics of the finished shelf in a few days.

    -Scott Los Angeles

    Greg Merritt

    Really nice work Scott. Look forward to pics of the finished project.


    I waited several days to let the Shellac fully cure, and rubbed it out and waxed the bookshelf this morning. I was pretty pleased with the general quality of the surface. The end grain feels delightfully smooth. My new Teklon brush worked so much more smoothly than the brush I used on the dovetail box.

    On the next project I need to spend more time in the following areas:

    1) Through tenons show, so I need to “clean” the inside of those mortises better before doing the final fitting of the tenon.

    2) A few minor areas of tearout somehow escaped my inspection and survived.

    3) Inside corners need more attention when sanding and leveling out the shellac.

    4) I did not pay attention to the grain direction in the sides of the bookshelf. It would have been nicer if both sides pointed in the same direction.

    5) Next time I will avoid using lumber with any pitch pockets.

    All in all, I was pleased with what I learned, and have room for improvement. I give myself a “B”

    -Scott Los Angeles

    Greg Merritt

    Very nice work Scott…we are are own worst critics…don’t be too hard on yourself though, we do this because we enjoy it and to relax…the shelf looks great. Open grain pine can be very challenging due to the pitch. Some sections are harder then expected some sections just crumble if you look at them sideways. Again, well done.

    PS. beautiful yard.


    Nice work Scott, looks great buddy. πŸ˜‰

    Martin Bargeman

    Looks great Scott, your daughter will be very pleased with her new bookcase πŸ™‚

    Norwich, Norfolk, UK


    You gave your self a ‘B’, I would be more than happy to give myself an ‘A’ if I turned out something like that at this stage! Fantastic job! This all about learning and the journey, well done.

    David Gill

    Looks A+ to me Scott great job

    Wigan, Lancs. England :

    Eddy Flynn

    great job scot we are always looking for that perfect finish i think you are being a bit hard on yourself with a B, this project looks like a great skill builder.:)

    Eddy .. Liverpool, Merseyside, UK

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