My son has a Mario Kart themed bedroom, and any old bookcase simply would not have been acceptable. :) I set out on an ambitious quest, not to just build a bookcase, but challenge myself by adding some fun inlay touches.
This project marked the very first time using both a (non-network) router and a wood chisel. It took a bit of practice on a few scrap pieces of wood before I felt confident enough to not gouge my fingers off.
For this project, it is helpful to have the following tools:
- TableSaw with crosscut sled
- Woodworking chisels
- 3/8 and 1/4" doweling jigs
- A cnc machine would have been nice!! ;)
Step 1: Sketch It Out!
The above sketch setup the scale for the pixels. One square is .75" This makes the total block one foot square. This made the build much easier going forward.
The Question Marks were to be the doors, and the Brick the drawers.
Step 2: Mill Down Your Lumber
Depending on what sizes of lumber you began with, you will need to mill down the following types of wood:
- Cherry (Primary structure) 3/4" (actual) thickness
- Walnut (Intermediate shading for inlay) 1/8" thickness
- Wenge (Shadow shading for inlay) 1/8' thickness
- Maple (Drawers) 1/2" (actual) thickness
Step 3: Create Your Panels
Based on what width of cherry you were able to acquire, you want to end up with 12" wide pieces for the doors, drawer fronts, side panels, bottom, and a nice bookmatched pair for the top.
Using wood glue and alternating pipe clamps, glue up your panels. I considered using biscuits or other additional butt joint techniques, but just glue seemed to hold good enough.
Make use of an orbital sander to help blend in and cleanup the joint.
Step 4: Tracer?? Your Mother's a Tracer!!!
Using your favorite imaging software and printer paper, scale your image design to a 1:1 ratio, to allow you to transfer the design right over to your panels. Remember, one pixel is equal to 3/4". Using different image patterns/ textures helped remind me which pixel was which.
After the template is taped into place, use a straight edge and razor blade/X-Acto to score the outlines. Using a knife for this step greatly helped to line up the chisel cuts and keep them precise.
Channel your inner Banky and trace over the scored lines to make them easier to see.
Step 5: Chop Chop
With a straight cutting bit in your router set to a depth of just under 1/8", gouge out the large areas of your design, but don't cross over the lines.
After routing, using your 3/4" straight wood chisel, settle into the scored line and proceed with plunge cuts. Try to chop straight down and take care to not bounce out of the scored line.
Be careful when chiseling parallel with the grain, you will be able to cut deeper with less effort on these cuts, so take caution.
Use the beveled side of chisel to clear out debris after the plunge cuts.
Go slow and take your time.
Rotate and secure your piece to the work surface so you never cut towards your body.
Step 6: Inlay Time!
During the inlay process, take your time! Do not try to rush this, and it will come out great!
Measure the cavities with digital calipers to obtain an accurate size.
Using a crosscut sled with a clamping system for your tablesaw, carefully cut the walnut and wenge pieces to match your design. It might be helpful to cut them just a hair oversized to ensure a tight fit.
I found it best to cut only a few pieces at a time as you placed them. This helped reduce and cover up mistakes and variances in measurement.
Use wood files and a fine grit sandpaper glued to flat bathroom tiles to help hone the exact fit.
I took care to orient the wood grain of the pieces so that they would be perpendicular to the main panel grain direction. This provided a nice contrast, but is totally up to you.
After test fitting over and over, using a bit of glue, place the pixel in the correct location. You may be able to clamp the piece down, or using scrap pieces of wood across the surface to put clamping pressure in the right places.
Ideally, you want the inlayed piece to stick up just a bit beyond the surface of the rest of panel, so that you can sand them all down smooth once finished.
You may be able to use sawdust mixed with glue squeeze out from the respective pieces to fill in any gaps you run across.
Step 7: Butt Joint Time...
Using a 3/8" doweling jig kit, place two dowels every 3-4 inches or so along the panels where they need to be butt jointed.
While I do not have pictures of the underside, here is a rendering to give you an idea of hot the bottom went together along with the lower trim.
Step 8: Installing Hinges
For this project, it was an important design goal to have no cabinet hardware visible when the doors or drawers were closed. This included knobs and handles. This meant that I needed to look at using Push Activated Door hinges. These ended up being nice as they had vertical, horizontal, and depth adjustments to allow a near perfect fit.
Using a speed square, mark where you would like the hinges to be set. Place the compatible mounting plate for hinge according to manufacturer instructions. After installing, mark where you would like the hinge to be placed on your door.
Remove the door component of the hinge and using a 35mm forsner bit, hog out the material, taking care to not blow thru the front of the door! A drillpress would be most helpful here.
Install the doors and adjust accordingly.
Place and install the Mechanical latch in the inside top corner. Take your mechanical pencil and color onto the latch itself. Now close the door and the mark will transfer to the inside of the door. This is the location for the knock in retaining catch for the door should be installed.
Step 9: Trim
Cut some small strips to place along the base to help establish a visual foundation for the piece.
Step 10: Drawer Slides
Finding push activated drawer slides that were under 12" in depth proved to be surprisingly difficult. I was forced to buy 12" slides and dremel them down to the proper length. This was a total PITA and hopefully you will be able to find a source for these if you decide to tackle this project yourself.
These drawer slides were 1/2" thick and had to be take into account when building drawers to the correct dimensions.
Use a block of wood as a spacer to get a consistent distance from the bottom of the cabinet.
Step 11: Honey, Put Your Drawers On, Company Is Coming Over.
The drawers are 1/2" maple butt jointed with 1/4" dowels. There is a thin 1/8" Lauan plywood bottom that is slid into a small routed groove along the bottom of the drawer.
Using a bit of hot glue, carefully tack up the drawer front in just the right position. Placing the door onto a few nickels will help with obtaining clearance for the bottom of the door. After it is set, drive some screws in the backside to hold it in place.
Use additional 1/8" Lauan plywood along the back of cabinet to help prevent objects falling behind shelf and to reduce possible racking.
Step 12: Finish Him!
Harness you inner Shang Tsung and prepare to finish him! In this case shapeshifting into your favorite Kombatant is not necessary.
After wiping the entire cabinet down with a tack cloth, prepare your Danish Oil by giving it a good shake.
Apply conservatively all over the entire piece. Even the insides. Be careful not to go too heavy on one side as it caused a previous Brick patterned drawer front to warp so bad that I could not use it
Step 13: That's It!
After the entire piece is completely covered with Danish oil, this is where you can sit back and admire your handiwork.