Custom Hardwood Furniture & Accessories

  Library Wall - Hickory - Tung Oil based finish

     MountainHaven created a media storage and library wall for a private office space.

     The initial 3D conceptual model of the library wall is shown below. Some of the functional requirements included having a standing height work surface, considerable drawer storage below the work surface, and library and artwork display space above the work surface. The client selected hickory (often referred to as pecan, as well) as the wood species of choice. The library and artwork display space utilized a mix of glass and solid hickory shelves.

    The wall system was designed to be built and installed in two stages. The base units and working surface were constructed and installed first so that the client would have the use of the storage space and work surface while the upper library and display units were being built.

    The full collection of base and upper units have been installed in the office of the client. as shown below. Click on the small images to open a full size image in another viewing window.


     The lifecycle chronology of the project is illustrated and described below. Click on any of the small images to open a full size view in a separate viewing window.


    The base assembly is comprised of three physical carcasses that will hold four drawers each. This image shows the three carcasses and the completed drawer boxes. The drawer boxes are solid hickory and utilize full dovetail joinery for strength, durability and aesthetics. The drawer bottoms are a hickory veneered plywood.
    This is another view of the three carcasses. Four drawers have been stowed inside each carcass as a matter of shop space utilization and reduced risk of damage. A solid hickory face frame is attached to the front of each carcass. At this point, all the drawer boxes, face frames and solid hickory end panel have been prepared for the application of the first coat of finish.
    This image shows the collection of carcasses and drawer boxes. Laid out on the shop floor are the solid hickory drawer fronts. The top row of three drawer fronts is on the left, the bottom row is on the right. Each row of drawer fronts is milled from a single piece of hickory. This will create a grain pattern for each row that will be homogeneous across the full row of drawers.
    An initial finish test was prepared and the client was invited into the studio shop to review the tonality and  grain clarity of some finishes. The result was close, but not quite there. Consequently more "recipe" development is being done to perfect the blend and application process to yield a subtle shift in tonality of the highlights in the hickory while maintaining superb grain clarity across the full spectrum of the natural tones of the hickory. The "recipe" boards are shown at left.
    The full length work surface has been grain matched and joined together from three planks of hickory. The grain pattern runs uninterrupted from one end to the other. Solid hickory has been used for the work surface rather than veneered ply to ensure rugged durability and ease of repair, should such ever be needed. The work surface will be mated to the base units in a manner that will allow wood movement with changes of climate, though for the cross grain dimension of this work surface such expansion/contraction should never exceed 3/16" maximum.
    The base units are undergoing the fitting of all the drawers. In this image, the nearest base unit has had all the drawers and slides fitted, then taken apart to prepare to receive the wood finish. The center base unit has all the drawers and drawer fronts in place. The far base unit is on the workbench (not visible) having the drawer slides fitted.
    Two base units are visible in the foreground. One base unit has drawer fronts and pulls installed. The other base unit has been completed fitted, but is now taken apart and is ready to receive the first application of wood finish. The solid hickory countertop is visible resting on top of the base units. In the background is the third base unit sitting atop the workstand. The fitting of drawers has just been completed on the third unit.
    The base units and drawer fascia (drawer fronts) have all received the last coat of finish. Visible in this image is the end panel of the base unit that will be set next to the entry door to the office. Resting on top of the base units are the drawer fascia pieces. The last coat of finish has just been applied and is still wet. The sheen will be more subdued when dry.


  All of the fascia pieces for the drawers have been laid out on top of the base units. The last coat of finish has just been applied and is still wet. Once all the pieces are dry they will be attached to the drawer boxes. The drawers will then be remounted in the drawer units and the drawer pulls will be put back on.
    With the final coat of finish applied to the base unit face frames and all the drawer components, the drawers have been remounted and the fascia pieces attached to the drawer boxes. Drawer pull hardware has also been installed. This is the base unit that will be positioned next to the office door. The end panel is solid hickory rather than hickory veneered plywood. The end panel has been mounted to allow for expansion and contraction over time, yet is solidly connected to the drawer unit box frame. This will be much more durable than a veneered ply.
    A view of the base units, drawers installed with drawer pulls in place, too. Grain patterns are continuous from left to right across each row of drawers. All three base units rest atop a single foundation to which hickory toe kick plates will be added. The foundation is not quite visible in this image.
    Staying on top of the work in the studio shop.  The counter top for the drawer units is solid hickory. This image shows the beginning of the sanding and finish prep process on the counter top. Both top and bottom surfaces will be rough sanded. Once rough sanded, the bottom surface will be given 2 coats of sealer and finish. The top surface will be sealed and receive at least 4 coats of finish, one of which will be tinted to reduce the degree of yellow in the white woods. No stain is being used anywhere in the project. The toner is custom mixed using dye in order to avoid loosing clarity in the darker tones of the grain.
    The counter top has been prepared for the finish process. Note in this image that the edging has been applied and has also been profiled to match the profile pattern on the perimeter of the fronts of the drawers.
    The counter top has been cleaned and is ready for the seal coat of the finish.
    The tung oil based seal coat of the finish is being applied to the counter top. Even at this step, the wood grain really comes alive.
    The counter top has been given 2 coats of the tung oil based sealer. Although several more steps remain in the finishing process for the counter top, this image and the next one down really convey how the base units and counter top will look as a whole. The counter top has not yet received the toner coat to control the degree of yellow tint in the lighter areas of the wood. An overall tone disparity may be noticeable in this image and the next one down because the base units have received the toner coat that is yet to be applied to the counter top.
    This view of the temporarily assembled base system provides a good idea of the overall look of the cabinetry. The counter top has not yet received the toner coat to control the degree of yellow tint in the lighter areas of the wood. An overall tone disparity may be noticeable in this image, and the one above it, because the base units have received the toner coat that is yet to be applied to the counter top. The most prominent wood grain patterns key around the union of the three planes (top, front, end) of the base system.
    All of the base units have been assembled. The foundation has been anchored directly to the floor after the carpet was cut back. The base units were then placed and aligned, anchored to the foundation and wall studs, then the one piece, solid hickory top was set in place and anchored. Ready for use.  The next phase will create the bookcases that will go above the base units.
    The upper bookcases will consist of two tower units with internal shelves. The tower units will be places at the ends of the base units, forming a space for a third virtual tower between them. The second of the two towers has been assembled and is yet in clamps in this image. The tower on the right side of the image is almost ready for the application of the finish.
    The upper bookcases are shown with wood shelves inserted into the assembly (excluding top glass shelves). The cases are almost ready to have finish applied. All the shelves need to be sanded yet and have the front edges profiled.
    This is a view of one bay out of the three bookshelf bays. The recessed mini-flood light is visible. Each bay will have a recessed light in the top of the unit.
    The shelves have received the first coat of finish. They are of solid hickory and have been designed and built to resist sagging that can be induced by a heavy load of hard cover books.
    A view of two tower units for the bookshelves. The unit near the camera has received the first coat of finish.
    All of the trim pieces have been milled and profiled, including the crown mouldings. Each piece is rough cut a bit long and will be trimmed to precise length at the time of installation. The first coat of oil finish has been applied to all the trim pieces.
    An open cabinet unit has been fabricated to go above the office door. The unit has been designed and fabricated to include two downlights to facilitate using the cabinet as a lighted display bay.
    A view of all the pieces for the upper section of the office wall. Two bookcase towers are visible in the rear of the photo. The above door cabinet is visible resting on the stack of solid hickory shelves. The tower bridge is in the stack of shelves. The bridge will be used to create a center bay of bookshelves between the two towers. All the crown and corner trim pieces are laid out in the foreground. The only items not included in the photo are the glass shelves and the recessed lighting units that will be installed as a final step before delivery.
    The upper section of the office wall includes lighting fixtures. This photograph shows the base units being modified with the addition of a switched wiring harness to supply the accent lighting built into the upper units.
    All but one of the upper units have now been installed and connected to the wiring harness. Trim is yet to be installed.
    All upper units are now in place and the lighting has been tested. The display unit above the office door contains two small flood lights. Each bay of the shelf towers contains one small flood light.
    All of the upper units are installed and the trim is complete with the exception of the center section of crown molding. Shortly after this photograph was taken the last piece of crown molding was installed and the installation was complete.
All content, including graphics and images, copyright 2010, Ed Reasoner, all rights reserved.