Collapsible Campaign Furniture Bookcase

Collapsible Campaign Furniture Bookcase

How to Make a Campaign Furniture Bookcase

This is an easy and fun woodworking project. I made my Campaign bookcase out of mahogany and Brusso hinges using the plans from Christopher Schwarz's book Campaign Furniture. This bookcase is fairly small and is meant to be easily transported. Originally designed for British military and travelers. The only "trick" to this bookcase is to have the top hinges and bottom hinges the exact same distance from the middle hinges. There are 12 hinges in all. The better and tighter you cut the mortises the sturdier the bookcase will end up. I finished this bookcase with a simple shellac finished thinned down with denatured alcohol and buffed with steel wool in between coats. I have links to all the supplies down below including the book and hinges used in this woodworking project.

Tools and Supplies Used in This Woodworking Project

Collapsible Campaign Furniture Bookcase

Collapsible Campaign Furniture Bookcase

Collapsible Campaign Furniture Bookcase

Collapsible Campaign Furniture Bookcase

cutting on tablesaw
Step 1: Cut All Pieces to Size
First thing you need to do is to cut all pieces to size except for the middle shelf. We'll cut the middle shelf to fit in a later step. One of the unique features of this bookcase is the two ends are slightly thicker than all the shelves. Exact dimensions for this project can be found in Christopher Schwarz's book, Campaign Furniture (link above in the description).
draw bookshelf ends
Step 2: Draw the Decorative Shapes
Next you'll draw the decorative shapes on the tops and bottoms of the end pieces. To save time and get an exact mirror image you can double stick tape the end pieces together before cutting them out.
cutting on bandsaw
Step 3: Cut the Shapes on Bandsaw
Now you can take your end pieces over to the bandsaw and cut out the decorative shapes.
laying out hinges
Step 4: Laying Out Hinges
Next you'll cut all the mortises for the hinges. This can be done by hand with chisels and a router plane or by using a router and template. I chose to cut all mine out by hand. Here I'm using a marking knife to scribe my lines.
chisel mortise
Step 5: Chisel Mortise
If you're cutting out the mortises by hand start chiseling away at the material. I make a series of parallel lines and then a series of perpendicular lines on top of them to create a crosshatched pattern.
using a router plane
Step 6: Using a Router Plane
Now you can take a router plane and remove all the material. The great thing about using a router plane along with chisels is you can set the depth and mortise out a perfect pocket with ease.
installing hinges
Step 7: Installing Hinges
Now you can start installing the hinges. I'm using solid brass hinges from Brusso. When using brass it's best to drill pilot holes and set them with steel screws before using the brass screws. This will prevent the brass screws from breaking or stripping.
cutting dado on tablesaw
Step 8: Cut Middle Shelf Dado
The middle shelf will be removable by sliding in and out of a shallow dado cut in the upper half of the end pieces. Here I'm using a dado stack installed in my tablesaw to make the cut.
shelf dado
Step 9: Cutting Middle Shelf
Now you can cut the middle shelf to fit into the the dados cut in the previous step. You'll want a good snug fit. As you sand, finish and wax, the shelf should slide into place easily and stiffen up the assembly.
bookcase glue up
Step 10: Middle Shelf Dropped Edge
To help stabilize the the carcase a dropped edge can be cut to size and glued to the middle shelf.
shellac finish
Step 11: Finishing with Shellac
Now you can take everything apart and finish it with 3 coats of shellac. I thin down each coat with denatured alcohol so it spreads on very thin with a cloth. Each coat dries within 20 minutes. Between coats I'll use steel wool for a glassy smooth finish.
final assembly
Step 12: Final Assembly
Once the shellac dries you can reassemble the bookcase.