During the Arts & Crafts heyday at the turn of the 20th century there were an extraordinary number of designs for bookcase and magazine stands offered to the public as completed pieces and construction plans. Most included simple designs and straightforward construction. A variation of the design shown here appears in the Dover Publications reprint of the 1906 Roycroft Furniture Catalog from the Roycroft Shops in East Aurora, N.Y.
In keeping with the Arts & Crafts style of stout furniture, the sides and shelves of this piece are called out as 7/8″-thick material. You may find the design more economically feasible by changing that to 3/4″ material. Start by milling and matching the grain patterns on the two side pieces. If possible, try and use only two boards per side for the width. If this isn’t possible, the trapezoidal design will allow you to use two 7″-wide boards for the center of each side, adding a 2″ strip on the front and back edges of the lower half, keeping the exposed glue lines to a minimum.
With the sides glued, squared up and sanded flat, mark the location of the shelves as shown on the diagram. The top and bottom shelves will have angled through-mortises cut into the sides, while the other four shelves are captured between the sides in 3/8″-deep stopped dadoes. To mark the start and stop locations of the dadoes, draw the shape of the sides on the side blanks, then measure in 3/4″ from the front and back edges.
Cut the dadoes with a plunge router and a router guide. Even though the sides of the stand are angled 3 degrees, the dadoes can be cut at a 90-degree angle to the side leaving only a slight gap on the underside of each shelf. If you prefer to eliminate the gap, a wood strip can be used to tilt the router at a 3-degree angle. If you opt for the angled dadoes, run a test piece or you may inadvertently transfer your gap to the top of the shelf.
The through-mortises can also be cut using a router with the base tilted to a 3-degree angle or marked and hand cut. In either case, cut from the outside surface to keep any tearout to the inside of the case. Use a scrap backing board to reduce the tearout even further.
Trapezoids & Shelves
With the dadoes and through-mortises complete, crosscut the top and bottom edges of the sides at a 3-degree angle, then use a band saw or a jigsaw and a plane to shape the sides. Next, mark and cut the elongated half-oval at the base of each side to form the legs. Lastly, mark the back edge of each side for a 1/4″ wide x 3/8″ groove for the back. The groove should be set in 1/2″ from the back edge and start 6″ up on the sides, running through at the top.
Next cut the shelves to size. The four center shelves can be cut to the sizes given in the Schedule of Materials, with all four edges cut on a 3-degree angle. The top and bottom shelves are a little more complicated. Each must have the through-tenons cut to size and shape. And the end of the shelf should be pared with a chisel on a 3-degree angle to match the inside surface of the sides. Don’t cut the mortises for the wedges at this time. See the wedge diagram on the next page.