Arts-and-Crafts Cottage Bookcase
This classic Limbert design offers a unique twist on a traditional style
Synopsis: With glass doors, pierced panels with integral corbels, and eye-catching details, this bookcase is based on Charles Limbert’s No. 355 Cottage Bookcase. This project will provide a lot of storage space and plenty of authentic Arts and Crafts style.
I like to build in the Arts and Crafts style, and I usually design each piece from the ground up. But once in a great while, I stumble onto a design that cannot be improved. This was the case with Charles P. Limbert’s No. 355 Cottage Bookcase. With its glass doors and pierced panels featuring integral corbels, it’s a true gem among Arts and Crafts designs.
Start with the sides
The No. 355 is like three small bookcases in one. There is a main case behind the glass door, flanked by two side-facing banks of open shelves. These side assemblies are the place to start. I use a pair of routing templates to make the pierced panels: one for the shelf dadoes and a second for the edge profile and cutouts.
Start with the dadoes for the shelves. I elected to make a full-size template and rout the dadoes using a guide bushing. The finished dadoes are 5⁄8 in. wide, so I use a 1⁄2-in.-dia. straight bit to cut them in two passes. I mount a 3⁄4-in. guide bushing in the router that rides in 7⁄8-in.-wide slots in the template.
The next task is to rout the profile and the cutouts. I use a full-size template made from 1⁄2-in.-thick MDF that is longer than the workpiece. This extra length helps me to safely enter and exit the profile cut.
Use the template to mark the profile on the side panels. Then head over to the bandsaw and cut just outside the layout line. The two front panels receive the cutout, so you’ll need to drill a hole and rough out the shape with a jigsaw.
Next, clamp the template to the panel, and then clamp both to the workbench. Make sure the panel is accurately positioned on your layout marks, and trim it to shape with a router and flush-trimming bit. Because the grain direction changes along the profile, I use a 1⁄4-in.-dia. down-cut spiral bit, which is ideal for handling the details and inside curves. Move the router in a counterclockwise direction along the edge of the panel, and in a clockwise direction inside the cutout. Consider an oversize router baseplate for improved stability.
Now is a good time to circle back to the rabbets in the rear panels. These 1⁄2-in.- deep by 5⁄8-in.-wide rabbets receive the back of the center bookcase. Since the rabbets extend the entire length of the rear panel, they are easily handled with a dado blade at the tablesaw.
From Fine Woodworking #274
More on Finewoodworking.com:
- Video Workshop: Limbert Inspired Coffee Table with Kevin Rodel by Kevin Rodel
- Safe and Simple Arts and Crafts Finish by Jeff Jewitt #157–July/Aug 2002 Issue
- Video Series: Build a Classic Cherry Bookcase
Get the Plan
Click here to download the digital project plan.