Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ginter Park Bookcases Pt. 3

The next step on this project was to establish a level base on the left-hand side of the fireplace onto which the case could be fastened. My main concern was that the line describing the top of the lowest shelf read as level from the old to the new case. This line is highlighted in red on the right-hand case below; it is 4.25" from the floor.

To transfer a line from the right-hand side of the room, around the fireplace, and over to the left-hand side, I used a laser level. I set it up in the room on a base which I leveled front-to-back and side-to-side with shims. I directed the laser to the top of the lowest shelf on the existing case, making sure that the laser sat perfectly level as I did so. The point at which I was aiming was the same one highlighted in red in the photo above.

Next, I pivoted the laser until it was directed to my target point on the left-hand side of the fireplace. I had made a base about 1/2" shorter than I would need and used shims at its four corners to raise it to its final height. That height is represented by the line onto which the laser beam is shining in the above photo. Once this height was correct all the way across the front of the base, I leveled the front-to-back dimension with shims and a regular spirit level.

The photo above shows the almost-complete base. At this point, two steps remained. The first was attaching permanent feet which would hold the base in its final, level position.

The last step was establishing a plumb line from the new mantel shelf above to the floor below. Once I had the base positioned relative to this plumb line right where I wanted it, I attached it to the floor with screws. At this point I could be sure that when I plopped the case onto its base, it would sit in the proper relation to the existing case on the right-hand side, with all the shelves reading as level with one another all the way across.

Here's the installed case. With minimal fuss it slid onto its permanent base just as I'd hoped it would. Next week, I'll trim the case to match the existing one, and I'll get started on the upper cases with their adjustable shelves.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Ginter Park Bookcases Pt. 2

Here's a picture of the right-hand side of the wall where I'm installing the built-in bookcases. I will be matching the existing cases you see in this photo over on the left-hand side of the fireplace. Once that's done, I'll build cases that go from the existing mantle-shelf level up to the ceiling on both sides.

In my last post about this project, I described the method I use to create a 3D "map" of the spaces I'm working with. Below, you can see how I use the computer model to derive templates for workpieces that have to fit into odd areas. I'll be extending the mantel shelf you see in the photo above over to the left-hand wall. Since the left-hand corner is about 5 degrees from square and slightly curved, it took some careful templating to make a piece that would fit just right.

This last photo shows the piece which will form the top of the new mantle shelf. If you viewed this piece from the top, you'd see that its ends are far from square and parallel. When something like this is fit properly, though, one doesn't see how wonky it really is.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Ginter Park Bookcases Pt. 1

I recently began work on a set of built-in bookcases for a home on Ginter Park's lovely Wilmington Avenue. I plan to track the project's progress here on the blog as I make my way through it. Though specific details vary from job to job, most projects go through a series of similar phases. With built-ins like these, my first step is always to make a very detailed three-dimensional map of the room.

The map of the room which will house the bookcases is pictured below. I generated it using 3D drafting software and my extensive field notes. Initial measuring of the space took about an hour, and making the drawing was another few hours-worth of work. It's very important to me that I get this map just right. Because of settling, old houses like this one rarely have plumb or square walls. The various kooky angles that result directly affect the dimensions of the cases as I'll detail in a later post. My concern at this point is that all those angles and dimensions are accurately represented in the model.

As you can see in the model, the house already has a case on the lower right-hand side of the fireplace. It's a mystery to me why the left-hand side did not also have shelves. When I'm finished, cases will go from floor to ceiling on both sides.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Walnut Tea Caddy

Here are a few shots of the walnut tea caddy I just finished. I made the bookmatched veneers on the top with my new bandsaw. This one is a gift for a dear friend.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Goodbye Beckstoffer's

After 110 years of continuous operation, H. Beckstoffer's and Sons of Richmond's Church Hill have shut their doors. Over their century-plus of hard work they supplied Richmond's builders with countless lineal feet of fine millwork, the highest quality doors, and decorative architectural woodworking of every conceivable kind. Employees were notified of the firm's closure upon their return from the New Year's holiday. It almost makes me feel guilty for complaining about the turkey I received as a Christmas bonus.

My friend Clay and I went over to see the old mill this afternoon. He took a bunch of pictures while we were there, a few of which are included below. More can be seen here.