Friday, August 26, 2011

Burnside Bridge Bookcase

My young friend Heather is heading off to college and I wanted to make her a special going away gift, something unique that I knew she would really like.

A bookcase of a manageable size seemed just the ticket for all of her dictionaries, thesauri, style guides, etc.  To make the whole thing perfect for her I would add a design element reflective of something that I know is dear to her heart.

More on that in a moment.

I also wanted to incorporate into the cabinet something dear to my heart and essential to any young person with a gifted imagination...

a secret compartment!

The design motif that I wanted to incorporate is Burnside Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield, where Heather and I have worked for several years now.  The bridge is special to everyone but especially so to Heather.

This is Burnside Bridge one foggy morning as the mist rises up from Antietam Creek.  These multi-arch, buttressed stone bridges typify Washington County Maryland,  Some 32 of them were built between the 1820s and 1840s.  All but six of those bridges are still open to traffic today.

I've modeled Burnside Bridge several times in the past, and the place I started this time was with the turning of the buttresses on my wood lathe.  

This piece would be halved on my bandsaw to provide the two buttresses.

Here they are, glued to the bridge.

And here's the bridge clamped into place during the fitting process.

With a Rapidiograph pen and Prismacolor pencils I added the stonework.  What you see is all drawn on a piece of poplar.

The bridge, along with the sloped side panels provides more book storage on the top surface.

I oversprayed the artwork with clear acrylic and applied cherry stain and spar varnish to the rest of the clear pine cabinet.

Surveying the results made me realize that one day when Heather has a friend help her move this book case the natural place to grab it would be by the bridge.  And even though the bridge is screwed and glued into place, it seemed to me like an accident waiting to happen.  I subsequently cut crescent-shaped hand-holds into the side panels about a third of the way down from the top, a perfect balance point.

The result is both spiffy and unique.

And the secret compartment?   That's none of our concern.

Best of luck Heather!



How many would you like?