A bookcase joined with dowels
With all the kids books we now have, it was time to build another bookcase. I spotted a headboard and footboard made out of some nice oak veneer plywood in the garbage, so I salvaged that specifically to make this bookcase.
Then cross cutting the pieces. I start all the cuts with a backwards scoring cut to avoid tearout on the bottom.
Another trick I'm using is to put a board in front of the stop (circled in red) that I clamped to the fence. With the board in front of the fence, I can push my workpiece past the stop for the first cut, then remove the board, flip my workpiece around, and make a clean cut on the other end.
A flip-up stop would work too, but I just clamp scraps of wood to the fence when I need them.
The plywood from the headboard has veneer and a thick ply on either side, and a layer of OSB in the middle. This doesn't make for nice looking edges, so I cut some strips of oak to cover it up. I cut these from solid oak trim that was also part of the headboard.
I made the trim slightly wider than the thickness of the boards, then used a flush trim bit on my router table to trim it. I raised the bit only as high as necessary, and set the fence so it was only about 1 mm further back than the bit's guide bearing. That way I can use the fence to make sure the stock is roughly vertical.
A doweling jig can be useful for drilling the holes in the ends of the boards for dowels. But for drilling the holes in the sides of the boards it's not ideal (though I did make a jig for that at some point).
Before drilling these holes, I made a shallow cut exactly down the middle of the slot to help the drill's point line up with it. This worked out quite nice.
Then I needed a good way to clamp the jig against the sides of the boards that would make the vertical sides of the shelves. I figured the best way to do that was to screw it to a thin flat piece of wood and drill through it.
I shortened my spacer to give me just the right amount of penetration through the jig and the board.
I cut a corner out of the end of a piece of wood, which I used as a guide to cut the dowels to length. The guide piece is the same colour as my bandsaw table, so it's hard to see in the picture at left.
Then I chamfered the ends of the dowels on the belt sander.
The dowels lined up well enough, but it turned out that they were 1 mm too long, so I couldn't close the joint. So I hurriedly pried it apart and cut the ends off the dowels, added more glue and forced it back together.
The next joints went together much better. But the dowels fit very tight in the holes even when inserting one at a time. So I needed quite a bit of force to close the joints. I then added my clamping squares to make sure they are square.
This would have been much easier if I had used fewer dowels, but I wanted the shelf to have side-to-side rigidity once it's done, and more dowels make the joints stiffer.
It would have been easier if I cut that rabbet before assembling the shelf. Thinking about it, the most expedient way to cut that rabbet now was with the pantorouter.
I could have cut it just with a router, but I have much more control over the router with a pantorouter. With the pantorouter, I can make a more dangerous "climb cut" without the risk that the router gets away on me. With a climb cut, the bit is always cutting into the wood, and that prevents tearout.
I figured the best way to attach the base was to just screw it on. If I ever move to a house with narrower baseboards, I can just remove the base and shorten it.
And the most expedient way to attach the base was using pocket holes. Yes, pocket holes! They are useful here and there. But I'm sure I'll never hear the end of it for having used pocket holes in one of my projects, especially after these tests.
Most of the book case gets hidden by an armchair, with just the top shelves poking out. It's a good way to make use of the dead space behind the chair.
Despite the difficulty assembling, I'd say the dowel jig was a success. A wooden dowel jig won't last very long, but I drilled through each hole in the jig just 16 times, which wasn't enough to wear it out too much, especially when drilling straight. I experimented with making a wooden pocket hole jig once, but that was unuseably worn out after 30 holes.
One thing that worked out well was to use a very thin blade to cut a slot where the lines of holes are. This helped to line up the brad point of the drill bit, so I only had to worry about lining it up in the other direction.
Building Shoe rack
of similar construction
Building a Low bookshelf
Building a Corner shelf
joining with dowels