Stickley Magazine Stand - Popular Woodworking Magazine

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Stickley Magazine Stand - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Stickley Magazine StandFurniture built without aback can be alarminglywobbly. We found a simpleand sturdy way to make thisopen shelving unit stand firm.Before I began building Arts & Crafts furnitureI collected Arts & Crafts furniture, and I came toknow two key facts about magazine stands: One,they are surprisingly useful pieces of furniture inthe modern home that allow you to store booksin any available cranny in a room. And two: Allof them wobble like a drunken sailor.This defect is the result of the fact that theyhave no back, which actually happens to be one oftheir most charming features. If you place a lampon top of any magazine stand, the light will floodbehind the cabinet and illuminate the wall behindyour books, pottery and most-favored objects.And this backlighting, as any photographer willtell you, is positively enchanting.So the best way to fix this design defect isdefinitely not to add a plywood or solid-woodback to the piece. So what do you do? After somecontemplation and experimentation, we foundthe solution: Two narrow strips of wood underthe top two shelves. These “shelf supports,” aswe call them, are then screwed to the sides of thecase, making them anti-racking devices that areusually invisible. And with the assistance of thetwo wider stretchers below the bottom shelf, thismagazine stand will stay rigid for a long time.The other bit of engineering in this projectis the joint that attaches the shelves to the sides.Dados are the traditional (and best) way to ensurethe weight of your book collection doesn’t createenough downward force to ruin the unit. Dados,however, do almost nothing to prevent a casefrom racking, which is where the shelf supportsand stretchers lend a hand.Every good cabinet is a careful balance ofthese attributes. If you ignore the engineeringwhen designing a project, you run the risk of itdying an ignominious death at the curb of a fraternityhouse some day. The other sin – almost asserious – is to overbuild a project with unnecessaryreinforcement. When you do this, you couldbe wasting lumber or hardware that could be usedin another project. You also could be adding bulkto a project that would benefit from less weight.And you could be pumping up the visual chunkinessof the project by beefing up parts that wouldlook better when slimmed down.This harmony between function and formis an important component of any project, butit is something to be particularly mindful of asyou build Arts & Crafts furniture. Furniture inthis style was intended to integrate itself into theturn-of-the century family home.Harmony Begins in the WoodThere is very little lumber in this adaptation ofGustav Stickley’s No. 79 magazine stand; about15 board feet of white oak would do the job ifyou’re lucky. But when you have so few parts ina project, you should pay close attention to thePHOTO BY AL PARRISH16 ■ woodworking magazine Spring 2005


quality of the boards that will show. Of the nineparts, you should be concerned with three: thesides and the lower stretcher at the front.With these three parts you should select boardsthat show the most dramatic figure. Be willing towaste a few pieces of wood to get it. And be happyto make a couple extra cuts to get the coloringcorrect and the seams in the right place. To dothis, here’s what you need to know.When I started working with quartersawnwhite oak, I had the fortune of visiting FrankMiller Lumber Co. in Union City, Ind. This hugehigh-tech mill supplies much of the world withquartersawn lumber. The employees are happyto sell oak by the board foot to the home woodworkerand by the train-car load to furnitureplants. If you’re ever driving through central oreastern Indiana, it’s worth a detour.During my first visit, the guy who was pickingour lumber could regularly grab boards withdramatic ray-flake figure on the board’s face bylooking at the ends of the boards (which werepainted brown, by the way).Bemused, I asked him how he did it. Hepointed to the annular ring pattern on the endsof the boards, which was visible under the paint.When these annular rings intersected the face ofthe board at exactly 90° – in other words, whenthey were straight up and down – the face of theboard was more likely to exhibit the desirable rayflake pattern. Remember this the next time you’reat the lumberyard and looking at rough stock.Once you pick a dramatic board for the lowerstretcher, turn your attention to the sides. It’sunlikely you’ll find a perfect 10"-wide board inquartersawn white oak. They are pretty rare. Thatmeans you’ll need to glue up two narrower widthsto end up with a 10"-wide side piece.An easy mistake to commit is to make thesides by gluing together a wide board and a narrowone. This might be more material-efficient,but it probably won’t look good in the end. Thebetter solution is to make each side using twolengths from the same board that are 5 1 ⁄ 8 " wideeach. By gluing up your side pieces from a singleboard, the result is likely to look harmoniousin grain and color. Matching the color is easy;matching the grain is a matter of flipping theboards over and over on your assembly benchuntil the result looks good.Personally, I like it when the grain looks likea “Y” that branches up from the center seamof the side piece. Also note that if you’re goingto hand plane your parts that you need to payattention to which way the grain is running onthe two pieces. I usually mark an arrow on eachface that indicates the grain’s direction. Thesearrows quicken the process of figuring out howto glue the boards together.Now you can joint the long edges of yourboards. But before you crack open the bottle ofglue, there is one small detour ahead.Quicker CutoutsYou can save some work for yourself down theroad by roughing out the shape of the cutouts atthe top of each side piece before gluing up thepanel. The half-moon cutouts at the top are easierto rough out before you glue up the panel.These cutouts will be routed to final shapeafter the panel is glued up. So to lay out the shapeat the top, make plywood templates using 1 ⁄ 2 "-thick plywood material, a compass and a ruler.See the construction drawing for details. Then cutout your shapes using a jigsaw, coping saw or bandsaw. Sand or rasp the edges of the pattern smooth.Take your time; little bumps will show.Put your side pieces in place on your benchand pencil in the patterns in the appropriate place.Cut out the shapes on the pieces, but don’t get tooclose to your lines; I’d stay about 1 ⁄ 8 " away fromyour line. Now you can glue up your panels anduse the lines from the patterns to help align yourparts correctly during assembly.With a panel of this size, I recommend youapply glue to both faces of the joint and clampevery 12". Begin at the center of the panel andwork out. Alternating clamps over and underthe panel is always a good idea. When the glueis dry, rip each side to its finished width and cutthe ends square. Then it’s time to rout the cutoutsand shape the curves for the project.Here you can see three boards. All three are technicallyquartersawn, which is when the annular ringsintersect the face of a board at somewhere between60° and 90° degrees. As the rings become more vertical,the ray flake becomes more pronounced. Theboard at left has annular rings at 62°, the middleone is at 72° and the one at right is 90°.The D-shaped cutouts will be easier to rout to their final shape if you cut them to rough shape beforeassembling each panel. This step saves you some drilling and some tricky inside cuts. You also can seethe arrows I’ve scrawled on the boards’ faces to indicate the grain direction of each piece.woodworking-magazine.com ■ 17


Gustav Stickley No. 79 Magazine StandNO. PART SIZES (INCHES) MATERIAL NOTEST W L❑ 2 Sides 3 ⁄ 4 10 40 White oak❑ 3 Shelves 3 ⁄ 4 9 7 ⁄ 8 13 White oak In 3 ⁄ 4 " x 1 ⁄ 4 " d. dados❑ 2 Shelf supports 3 ⁄ 4 1 1 ⁄ 4 12 1 ⁄ 2 White oak Pocket screwed into sides❑ 2 Lower stretchers 3 ⁄ 4 2 1 ⁄ 2 12 1 ⁄ 2 White oak Glued, screwed to casePatterns Make PerfectWhenever I have to make more than one trickycutout in a project, I like to make a plywood patternand then rout the piece to its final shape. Forthis project I made a pattern for the cutout at thetop and the curve at the base of the sides. Thepattern ensures that both cutouts will be identical,and you’ll be able to clean them up with justa bit of hand sanding. The other option is to cutthe shape close and then use an oscillating spindlesander to sand to your line. If you’re a whizwith this machine then feel free. I think a routeris the less risky route to a crisp execution.Clamp the pattern to the side piece and thenclamp these two pieces to your bench with thepattern sandwiched between your bench and yourside piece. You’re going to need a pattern-cuttingrouter bit for this operation, and I generally preferthe pattern-cutting bits that have the bearingon the end of the router bit. This bit reduces theamount of spinning carbide that’s exposed belowthe router base (always a good thing), and it allowsyou to more easily clamp up your work.Pattern bits that have the bearing above thecutters generally need everything cantileveredoff the end of your bench so the bit doesn’t cutinto your workbench. These bits are invaluablefor blind cuts (where the cut doesn’t pass throughyour work) but they’re not needed here.A Bit of Hand WorkNow shape the curve on the lower stretcher. Whileyou could create a plywood pattern and rout thiscurve, I encourage you to rough it out first using asaw and try using a spokeshave for this operation.A spokeshave with a slightly curved sole makesshort work of this shaping operation. And evenif you cannot manage to get your tool to leave aperfect surface that’s free of tear-out, the edgewill never show because it faces the floor.If you do not own a spokeshave with a curvedsole, there are two excellent modern versions nowavailable that I can recommend. The spokeshavesby Lie-Nielsen and Veritas will open curvaceousnew worlds for you. (See the Supplies box forcontact information.) I would caution you againstpurchasing inexpensive spokeshaves, such asthose from Kunz and Anant. I have found thesetools need a great deal of tuning.Remember to work with the grain with thesetools. In the case of a curve such as this, thismeans you should almost always work from thehill and into the valley, as shown below.The final bit of shaping is the slight radius atthe top corners that is shown in the constructiondrawing. Lay this out with a compass, cut it closewith a saw and smooth the edge with sandpaper.Start with #100 grit and progress to #220.PatternThe two common types of pattern-cuttingrouter bits are shown here. The bit at the top hasthe bearing above the cutting flutes, which isdesigned for blind cuts. Below that is a bit withthe bearing at the end of the cutter, which I preferfor this operation.Routing DadosThe best way to rout the 3 ⁄ 4 "-wide x 1 ⁄ 4 "-deep dadosin the sides is to make the T-square jig shownon page 25 of this issue. You want your dados tobegin at the back of the cabinet and stop 1 ⁄ 4 " infrom the front edge. To do this operation consistentlysix times, I recommend you screw ornail a stop to your T-square jig that will halt therouter at the correct place every time. This takesa couple extra minutes of work, but it prevents acareless slip of the hand.Make each dado in two passes with yourplunge router and a 3 ⁄ 4 "-diameter straight bit: Firstwith the bit set to about 1 ⁄ 8 " and then with thebit sent to 1 ⁄ 4 " below the base of the tool. Asalways with this tool, move the router swiftlyand smoothly for the best results.Router directionHere you can see the side and pattern clampedup for routing. When making this cut, movethe router clockwise around the opening. Movequickly and smoothly, and try not to hesitate atany point during the cut. This will reduce thechance of scorching the edge.The trick to using a spokeshave is push it in thedirection that will push the fibers down, insteadof pulling them up, which produces tear-out.Think of the grain as the fur of a cat and the toolas your hand that pets it. It’s always best to petthe cat in a manner that smooths its fur.“Whether made into a wooden pillowor table, wood with excellent grain is aguarantee of splendid poems, and thecomposition of perfect documents.”— Liu Shengfrom “Ode to Fine Grained Wood,”a Chinese text from the second century, B.C.18 ■ woodworking magazine Spring 2005


10"1ø"5"10"œ" r.¬" r.7"2ø"1¬"œ"ø"11®"Shelves are allset back ˚" fromfront edge of sides¬"1¬"40"12®"2ø"1¬"13®" R.3ø" r.œ"6"œ"REAR VIEWSMagazine Stand2" 6"SIDE VIEWwoodworking-magazine.com ■ 19


Notching the ShelvesNow you need to fit each shelf piece into its dado.If you planed your lumber accurately, it shouldfit snugly into the dado. If it’s a little tight youcan either hand plane the shelf to fit, which is myusual method, or carefully send it through yourplaner for one more light pass – a risky operation.If you overshoot and make the shelf too thin,you can tighten up the dado by gluing a strip ofveneer in the dado and fit the shelf again.Once your shelves fit in your dados, you needto fit the front edges around the rounded routedoutsection where each dado terminates. Whileyou could chisel the end of the dado square, anyerror will show as an ugly gap at the front edgeof your shelf. The better option is to saw a notchin each shelf and clean the notch up with a chisel.With a shop-made chiseling guide, your successis almost guaranteed.The first step is to lay out the 1 ⁄ 4 " x 1 ⁄ 2 " notchesso that the shelves will fit into the dados andsit back 1 ⁄ 8 " in from the front edge of the sides.This setback adds another nice shadow line tothe project and saves you from having to fit theshelves perfectly flush to the front edge. Lay outyour lines with a marking knife and cut the notch,leaving just a sliver of waste.You can cut this notch with a band saw, butthis is an excellent opportunity to instead practicewith a hand saw. Sawing to a line is a worthy skillworth developing.A chiseling guide is a jig that takes about fiveminutes to fabricate and will make this paringoperation a snap. It’s made using three piecesof wood: a small scrap of waste wood from theproject and two scraps of thin plywood. Nail theplywood to the scrap as shown in the photo at rightand clamp the chiseling guide to your shelf.First AssemblyNow you’re almost ready to start putting thepieces together. Before you fit the stretchers andsupports, plane or sand your parts so they areabout ready for finishing. This is an importantpoint. If you fit the stretchers and supports beforesanding or planing, they won’t fit as snugly whenyou assemble the unit at the end.Clamp up the shelves between the side piecesand stand the unit up on your bench. Now youwant to do the critical fitting. Cut the lowerstretchers to their final length so they fit snuglybetween the side pieces of your clamped-up case.Do the same thing for the two shelf supports.You can do this fitting operation on your tablesaw. I, however, like to use my shop-made “shootingboard.” A shooting board guides a hand planeso it trims off small increments. It’s my favoriteway to sneak up on a tight fit.Once you get the stretchers and supports fittingsnugly, cut the pocket holes for the screwsthat attach these parts to the side pieces. Usingyour pocket-hole jig, bore the screw pockets onRouting the dados in the sides with the T-square jig ensures straight and clean dados that stop exactlywhere they are supposed to. It is an elegant solution to a thorny problem with case joinery.the bottom edge of each shelf support and on theinside face of the lower stretchers. These screwswill add a bit of inexpensive insurance.Dry-fit all the parts of the magazine standon your bench. Clamp it up like you were goingto glue things for real. Now glue and clamp theshelf supports and stretchers to the underside ofthe shelves. I really recommend you do this withthe shelves clamped in place between the sides– even though you’ll have to take care and not letyour glue squeeze out and onto the sides.Once the glue has dried, you can drive allthe pocket screws home. If you are building thisproject in oak, here’s a word of advice: Rub theA marking knife or chisel is the perfect tool to layout the notches on the shelves. Assemble andclamp the case, then use the sides as a guide tomark the notches.threads of the screws with a bit of paraffin orbeeswax before driving them. Oak is such a densewood you can easily snap the screw heads off.After the glue dries, remove the clamps anddisassemble all the pieces. Do any final sandingor smoothing at this stage.When sawing the notches, the best way to ensureyour success is to begin the cut correctly. Useyour thumb and index finger to guide the sawblade as you begin the cut.20 ■ woodworking magazine Spring 2005


Finishing DecisionsWhenever I finish a shelving unit or cabinet, I liketo finish it when the parts are disassembled andthen glue it up after the topcoat finish is dry. Thisprocess is delayed gratification at its best.Finishing the parts before assembly makesthem easier to finish (everything is flat with novertical surfaces), but it takes a bit more time. Youhave to tape off all the joints that will be glued soyou don’t seal them up with the finish. However,the inconvenience is outweighed by the qualityresults. The inside surfaces of the project endup well finished – a mark of good construction.Tape off all the dados and their mating edgeswith masking tape – I prefer the blue painter’stape that doesn’t leave a sticky residue behind.I recommend the finishing technique outlinedin this issue on page 30. It’s an improved and fasteradaptation of a version we have been refining duringthe last six or seven years. Once the color isdry, add two or three coats of spray lacquer. Thisproject is small enough that a couple aerosol canof spray lacquer will do the job (though the cansare expensive; about $8 each).Final AssemblyOnce the finish is dry, glue up the case. Put gluein the dados and knock the shelves in place.Clamp everything up. Clean up any squeeze-out;it should be easy to wipe up thanks to the alreadyfinishedsurfaces. Once everything is clampedand square, drive the pocket screws home. Allowthe glue to cure and remove the clamps.This is the fourth magazine stand I’ve eitherbuilt or bought for our home. And it’s the only onewith real backbone. The system works. WM— Christopher SchwarzThis chiseling guide ensures the chisel cutsexactly where you want and no deeper. Make thisparing cut with a couple passes of your tool to getthe hang of the operation.My shooting board is made from a few layers ofplywood that are glued and screwed together.Any plane with the sides ground 90° to the solecan be used for shooting, though I find thatplanes with more mass are more accurate.I use a smoothing plane to prepare my parts forfinishing. Sandpaper or scrapers are the otherlogical choices. Which method you select willalter how the color is absorbed by the oak. Seethe article in this issue on Arts & Crafts finishes(page 30) for details.SuppliesFrank Miller Lumber Co.1690 Frank Miller RoadUnion City, IN 47390800-345-5711 or frankmiller.comLee Valley Tools800-871-8158 or leevalley.comVeritas Round Spokeshave#05P33.03, $65If you don’t have a pocket-hole jig, you can rig up the jig shown here to do the job with a stepped drillbit. The workpiece is angled at 15°. Set the depth of the drill bit to stop cutting right before it breaksthrough the end of the workpiece. This will take a little trial and error to set right.Lie-Nielsen Toolworks800-327-2520 or lie-nielsen.comSmall Curved Bottom BronzeSpokeshave, $75Prices correct at publication deadline.woodworking-magazine.com ■ 21

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