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Mid-Century Modern Book Case in Popular Woodworking

Popular Woodworking October 2015 Cover

The October 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine includes my article on building a Mid-Century Modern book case.

The October 2015 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine features my article on building an open-backed book case (it also works as a room divider) in the Mid-Century Modern style. I’ve detailed parts of the build on 1910 Craftsman, but the article goes into depth on step-by-step construction. I’m in good company in this issue–I enjoyed Jeff Miller’s article on the slat-back chair and am sorely tempted by Lee Valley’s new trammel points.

You can read the introduction to my article on the issue index or order a copy from This case is one of 29 designs featured in my book Mid-Century Modern Furniture, which is available on Amazon and

Milling Loose Tenons (aka DIY dominos)

Loose tenons

Loose tenons ready for use.

When I am making my own loose tenons, I have cause to remember thinking how absurd milling dominos was as I read about it on the Festool Owners Group. After all, one of the key benefits of using the Domino is the time savings, savings lessened by milling your own loose tenons instead of using Festool’s pre-made dominos. As it turns out, there are situations where a custom tenon suits, especially when I’m using the Domino joiner on the widest cutting setting. As designed, this width is intended to allow for slight mis-alignment when using multiple tenons to join parts together. It’s also a way to use wider tenons than those available from Festool.  Continue reading

Craftsman Hall Mirror–Construction

Craftsman Mirror

Through tenons provide the only ornamentation in this Craftsman-style mirror.

Through tenons join the rails to the stiles of this Craftsman-inspired mirror and provide much of the ornament as well. I began by cutting the rails and stiles to size, then marked the rails for the mortises. I used a straight bit in my plunge router to waste out most of the mortises, then finished up a 1/4″ mortise chisel. I cut the tenons on the tablesaw in multiple passes, then pared them to fit with a rasp and chisel.

With joinery cut, I planed 1/8″ of the rails to vary the thickness of the frame members and bevelled the ends of stiles and rails and routed a rabbet in the back to hold the mirror. Like the hall table it complements, the white oak frame was fumed, then I applied a couple of coats of boiled linseed oil and garnet shellac. I had the mirror cut and bevelled at a local frame shop and put it place in the hall.

Doormaking and Window-Making for Carpenters & Joiners

… though some so-called up-to-date men may dub them old-fashioned, they are not so by any means, being in constant use at the present time for good work by many who decline to do “jerry” work

I’m taking a short break from timber frames to review Lost Art Press’ new Doormaking and Window-Making for Carpenters & Joiners (available here). The book collects in a single volume two booklets originally written by an experienced joiner and published in England in the early part of the Twentieth Century.  Get past what may seem overly-formal language to a modern ear, and the book contains a wealth of useful information. Doormaking covers the construction and installation of board-and-batten and frame-and-panel doors as well as door frames. Window-Making moves from the simple to complex, detailing the construction of casement and sliding sashes and frames, then bay windows before concluding with Venetian windows. Frequent drawings and occasional photographs illustrate the text. The care with which the originals were scanned and reproduced is evident—the text and images are clear and show minimal artifacting. And all of this comes in a delightful package: the diminutive hardback is embossed with a drawing of the bolection-molded three-panel door (figure 64 from Doormaking), a visual invitation to open the book and learn. Continue reading

Limbert Furniture Company


A drawing of the Holland factory from one of the company's booklets

A drawing of the Holland factory from one of the company’s booklets.

After years as a traveling salesman of furniture and a failed manufacturing partnership, Limbert founded the Charles P. Limbert furniture company in 1894 and spent the rest of the decade building it. By the turn of the century, his reputation as a furniture salesman was well established–the April 1901 Furniture Record called him the “furniture commission man.” That skill earned him several prominent contracts, including the Patlind Hotel in Grand Rapids, the Grand Canyon Hotel, the Mission Inn (Riverside, CA), and the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park. Continue reading

Build a Leaded Glass Panel

Straight cuts allow for plenty of design variation while allowing for easy construction. Here the choice of frame, color of glass, and thickness of came combine to suggest a shoji screen.

Straight cuts allow for plenty of design variation while allowing for easy construction. Here the choice of frame, color of glass, and thickness of came combine to suggest a shoji screen.

On the local Historical Society’s annual tour of homes, we admired the leaded glass paneled doors of a kitchen’s cabinets and decided to do something similar as part of the update to our kitchen. While
cutting and fitting curved pieces requires special equipment, the straight edges used here are easily assembled using only a few additions to common shop tools. Simple variations adapt the panels to a variety of styles, including Craftsman, Prairie, and Asian-inspired.

To build your own panels, you’ll need a glass cutter, straight edge, solder, came, a way to cut the came (I used a power miter saw, but a hacksaw will work), glass, putty, putty knife, and an assembly board, a large rectangle of MDF or plywood with two fences forming a right angle at one corner of the board. The panel is assembled from that corner outward, ensuring tight fitting joints and a square panel as glass and came are added to achieve the desired size. The panel is then soldered and puttied. Read more.