Author Archives: Maxwell's Carpentry

Bookcase – December 2014

The alcoves either side of a fireplace are a particularly good place for bookshelves and cupboards, and this room is no exception. With one bookcase already installed, this customer wanted a near matching set built on the opposite side with a small cupboard in the middle, alcoves for storing logs, and shelves above. So I obliged…..


So first start with an empty space, and build a level platform to build upon…


sb bookcase pic 1

sb bookcase pic 2













Next add some sides and frame the front, plugging the screw holes so once painted you’ll never know they’re there. Then add a top, and upon that build up the sides and fit the rails to carry the shelves…


sb bookcase pic 3

sb bookcase pic 4













Then add the shelves, and a little door…


sb bookcase pic 6sb bookcase pic 5













And there you go, a matching pair of bookcases….


sb bookcase pic 7

Walk in Wardrobe – November 2014

So what can you do with an awkward space in the corner of your bedroom…? Build a walk in wardrobe of course! Complete with numerous shelves, drawers, rails, handleless ‘push to open doors’ and motion sensitive lighting that activates when you walk in, no ordinary wardrobe!

I’ve been steadily building this over the past few weeks and have finally finished everything today, planing down and re-fitting the doors now both the decorator and carpet fitter have played their part. Here is a step by step record of how I did it…….

The first thing is to build a timber frame, onto which the inside, and then the outside are panelled with MDF. A visit from the electrician to fit new lights, and the doors are cut and fitted….

wardrobe an empty spacewardrobe batten in place










wardrobe inside panellingwardrobe outside panelling










wardrobe doors fitted


For the inside only floating shelves will do…. First fit timber batten to form the shelf, then clad the top, clad the bottom, and finally the front again with MDF, with no brackets, screws or nails on show….


upper shelf stage 1upper shelf stage 2











lower shelves stage 2lower shelves stage 3

















Then a little free standing chest of drawers and a bookcase were built and fitted…..


chest of drawers satge 2bookcase stage 2

















And then everything was painted…..


wardrobe painted, closedwardrobe finished and painted, open

















So there you go, finished, but what do you do with the off-cuts… build a desk of course…..


desk stage 2desk stage 3











Straying away from wood, the desk, built in just the same way as the floating shelves, has been covered with clear perspex. And there you go, another job finished and another happy customer….




New toe rails for Hesperus

In between the rain showers these past few weeks (it actually seems more like months now!) I’ve been steadily making progress with finishing the new mahogany toe rails on Hesperus’ decks. This is to firstly cover the edge of the glass and epoxy sheathing I covered the deck with, to stop it peeling up! Secondly, and how it gets it’s name, is to stop you walking straight off the edge into the sea..!!! And lastly, it looks quite nice.

The rails themselves were put on back in the summer, they were just bendy enough to fit without steaming and were glued and screwed in position. However there are quite a lot of deck fittings around the edge of the boat, the pullpit, cleats, fairleads… and the rails aren’t wide enough for these, so additional blocks are needed

So here are some photos showing progress as it happened…. The first thing was to cut and shape the blocks to size to neatly fit against the curve of the rail…

planing blocks blocks ready to fit








They could then be fitted, sometimes with a little clampage….

foredeck pads being fittedpullpit block fitted


















The blocks and pads are glued down with epoxy resin and screwed, the holes are counterboard so the screws sit about 5mm below the surface, then mahogany plugs cut from off-cuts for a perfect colour match are glued over the screws…

lower cleat block being fittedforedeck fitted









Once the glue dries the plugs are planed flush and virtually disappear, and all of the edges are radiused with a router and sanded smooth ready to be varnished. Mahogany takes on an almost suede like appearance and texture when it’s freshly sanded, if only it stayed that way…..

foredeck unsandedside deck sanded


















You can’t call yourself a boatbuilder unless your joints are perfect, and I’m fairly proud of mine. I used scarf joints for the rails themselves, it’s basically a diagonal butt joint and very tricky to get right, but if you take your time…. And once you’re happy, the varnish can go on…..!

foredeck sandedforedeck sanded close-up









scarf sanded

finished scarf









lower cleat block finishedfore and side decks finished









So it’s looking really good, it still needs a further 4 or 5 coats of varnish to be sea proof, and there’s still the afterdeck rails to finish, and then it’s onto the hull for a little winter project…..!

Phosphorus – my dinghy

So while I’m on a role I thought I’d post a little about the first boat I ever built, Phosphorus. For part of my boatbuilding apprenticeship I had to build a little plywood dinghy, and over a period of about 2 years this is how I faired…. It is an American design and built (mostly) from a single sheet of 8’x4′ 6mm plywood, but somehow my boat ended up with quite a few embellishments including solid mahogany gunwales and rubbing strake, oak stem, a mahogany and douglas fir stripped after deck, and solid bronze rollocks, cleats, and even a flag pole holder. Not bad for a student hey…!

You can see a photographic record of Phosphorus’ life from birth to boat on my facebook page….

Digital imageDigital image

My first blog post – a half size bookcase

So my first ever post, and to give you an idea of some of the commissions I undertake here is a little bit about what I am currently working on, a half sized custom built bookcase. I was asked to build this specifically to fit in an awkward space and not be too dominating, hence it’s low height of only 4’6″, have adjustable shelves, and made from that finest of woods, MDF, stained and varnished to match other furniture in the room.

After designing it on paper, the individual parts were quickly cut to size, the rebate for the adjustable bookcase rails and an attractive moulding on the front edges were machined using the router, that was the easy part… The next stage has been to carefully stain each part with 2 coats of teak woodstain thinned with white spirit and applied with a cloth, and then given 4 coats of satin varnish. Luckily the basement floor provides a suitable and dry cabinet makers workshop!

Once the internal sides of the parts had been stained and varnished, assembly could begin and the sides, back, top and bottom shelves were screwed and glued together. The screws were all counter-bored and the holes plugged, all that is now left to do is stain and varnish the outside, and it’ll be ready for delivery, let’s hope it fits….!




















Luckily it did fit, perfectly….! And here it is in it’s new home, sitting perfectly in the gap between the cupboard and the window, not only being put to it’s intended use, but decorated for Christmas….


half size bookcase finished