It’s more a vernacular bookcase really. Something locally designed and built to last at a fair price without going cheap in any way. The thing is it is self-assembly, solid wood, manually, mentally and emotionally demanding/stimulating, but all in the most positive doable thing to do which is more than I can say for the one often made by or pronounced with the four-letter word, wrapped in a cardboard flatpack carton, and assembled with a single allen key (hex wrench USA).
I designed this for those who want to own a bookcase, display unit or tool stowage unit with a view to getting totally immersed in the whole and wholesome process of DIY making of it without resorting to using only a hex wrench. My premise that everyone wants to grow something, cook something and make something from seed, scratch or real wood is at the core of this. Making a bookcase is no small project but when you can make it using only one repeated joint type 20 times and, AND, use only seven or eight hand tools you may well already own, from real wood you bought from your local supplier of construction grade softwood, suddenly, surely, it fits the bill. 16 studs oughta do it too if you’re building a case three feet wide, 10″ deep and three feet wide as is mine.
Here’s the thing. It will take a few hours of physical energy, but most likely much less than you might spend in the gym and you will be producing more than just physical muscle. Unlike in the gym, you will be making minute by minute decisions, your mind will be much more alert rather than numbed by boredom and, AND, all of the senses will be transmitting information from the three dimensional endeavour you are working on, working with, working in. It is a BLAST! Stretches, pulls, compressions. They are all right there at the ends of your arms, legs and then all bits in between. Your core muscles or immersed in full training to say nothing of your brain muscle/chemistry too.
What are core muscles? These are the major muscles of your pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, rectus abdominis, erector spinae (sacrospinalis) especially the longissimus thoracis, and the diaphragm. Then too there are the minor core muscles which include your latissimus dorsi, gluteus maximus, and trapezius. Not muscles we general give much attention to but there they are doing their bit in the planing and sawing of wood, the lifting, twisting and moving of wood. The more the case comes together the more weight you end up lifting. Even in the application of finish, the sanding and such you are constantly engaging every one of muscles in your body and that without reserve. In the core muscles you have 35 muscles alone. Imagine working 650 muscles in refined synchrony. Beyond that then there is the brain, the cerebrum of which transmits information to work the muscles. The brain is not a muscle but an organ and of course it the most important organ in the body.
That said, the brain seems apt to work like a muscle in that it muscles its way around the body through the neurons to improve different cognitive functions like making the memory recall information for our use minute by minute or perform maths and such as we work the wood. Neurons as I understand them at least, are electrically charged cells in the nervous system that work as sensory processors and transmitters of all information received to direct the working of our bodies to do the necessary work. As with our core muscles, neurons are the core components of the brain, the spinal cord and peripheral nerves. It’s through the neuron as or of the brain that all the nerve cells in the body fulfil their obligations to perform as drawn on for us to perform our tasks.
So here we are, building a bookshelf and exercising our whole being without getting on a treadmill, be that the treadmill of mass manufacturing or the treadmill that expends energy purely for the benefit of exercising because, well, our normal day jobs do not require or allow physical work much any more.
As a long term diabetic my work has saved me thus far. I have never been particularly overweight and my working gives me every kind of exercise I need in a given day to keep me lithe, supple, strong and very healthy. One minute I am down on my knees (not a bad place to be), and then I am reaching to lift wood over my head to spin it mid air for working an opposite side. Ripping down three to seven foot lengths gives my upper body and lungs a good workout to stress test me through and through. In this bookcase I found myself several times a day out of breath but not because I am not fit, more because of the high-demand exertion it takes to do that ripping, planing, lifting, spinning and just generally working the wood. To be honest, I enjoyed it, and tonight, Saturday at 5pm, I looked back in the shop and saw the completed bookcase, the final finish, the day’s clean up and the drawings on my drawing board and, I must say, once again, it felt pretty fulfilling.