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Craftsman-Style Book Rack Upgrade

By: Phil Huber
Stretch the capacity of the Craftsman-style book rack with a clever change.

Upgrade your book rack

Projects that end up in the magazine usually follow a direct path in development. Some wander about for a while as details get sorted out. There is often a pruning that happens in order to fit the space constraints of a magazine layout.

Expanded book rack

That's the case of the Craftsman-style Book Rack. What the original photos and plans don't show is that the shelf isn't a solid panel. Instead, it's made up of five 1"-wide strips. This allows the shelf to expand to hold even more books — always a good idea.

Spline detail

In order to make this to work, the strips have shallow grooves cut on the inner edges. Splines are glued into each groove on two of the strips.

To keep the strips together, I attached 1/4"-thick a pair of supports with glue and brad nails on the underside. Just be sure to attach alternate strips on each end. Otherwise your strips aren't going anywhere.

Screws and supports

There's one other change you need to make. In the plans, three screws connect the shelf to each of the end pieces. One one end, three screws are drilled into the outer and center strips using the spacing shown.

On the opposite end, only two screws are required. These are centered on the strips that hold the splines.

Choose a piece of straight-grained material for the shelf. This way the seams between each strip will practically disappear. I taught this project for the Des Moines Woodworkers Club. And can tell you it's a fun detail to reveal.

Handsome book holder

One more note: the OG version of this book rack was made from quartersawn white oak. Solid choice. The one shown here is cherry and I think loosens up the appearance. This version now sits at my desk in the Woodsmith Shop studio.

Don't forget to check out the video on making the cutouts in the ends.

Published: April 29, 2024
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Topics: designers notebook, online extras, table saw, weekend, workshop

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