Mid-century Modern Bookcase
by Michael Crow
Mid-century modern design is enjoying a surge in popularity, and rightly so: Its clean lines and functional design make it practical and attractive, two traits evident in this bookcase by an unknown designer.
Its stark, geometric design shows modern roots while giving it a strong graphic presence. And because it looks good from both the front and back, it’s perfect for dividing a space without completely partitioning it, making it a good match for the open-plan homes of the period, and of today.
Simple construction techniques underlie the sophisticated design: Rabbets in the leg assemblies capture the case, with its interior dividers and shelves joined by dados. The asymmetrical dividers are made from 1⁄2″-thick stock while the outer case is made from 3⁄4″-thick material. The legs and rails are 1″ thick. The varying thicknesses, and a 1⁄2″ reveal of the case in the legs, add another subtle detail to the design.
The original case was executed in rosewood, but I opted for cherry finished with oil and shellac. It provides a warmth similar to rosewood without the expense. Too, the design lends itself to a variety of materials, so pick your materials to suit your décor.
Following the original, I built the case from sheet goods (the legs and rails are solid cherry), but there’s no reason to choose sheet goods over solid wood. While plywood does require edge-banding, you’ll likely spend the same amount of time gluing up narrower solid stock to produce the wide boards required for the project, so let your preference and working style guide your choice of material.
Web: Visit the author’s web site.
Blog: Read about ways to modify the bookcase for various purposes
Plan: Download a free SketchUp model of this bookcase.
Article: Build Steve Shanesy’s “Wall-mounted Server,” inspired by mid-century modern designs.
In Our Store: “Building Classic Arts & Crafts Furniture: Shop Drawings for 33 Traditional Charles Limbert Projects,” by Michael Crow.
To Buy: “Mid-Century Modern Furniture: Shop Drawings & Techniques for Making 29 Projects,” by Michael Crow.
From the October 2015 issue