The Rocket Bookcase

This was a mammoth task - much more than I initially anticipated. The rocket bookcase has 52 individually crafted wooden parts - nearly all with some complication of a bevel, chamfer, mortise, tenon, compound curve, kerf cut, acute or obtuse angle. Over 50 countersunk and concealed screws, multiple solder joints for lights, adjustable shelving, soft-close hinges, adjustable footpads, nearly 20 thin coats of primer, enamel paint, and polycrylic for years of durability.

“This rocket is not meant to fly into space, but rather my son’s imagination.”

I started out with some initial sketches inspired by what I will call mid-century futuristic space optimism. I took a lot of inspiration from the 1950s space art of Chesley Bonestell, whose iconic image of Saturn rising over Titan is hanging in the nursery. The goal was to keep the design a little more whimsical than serious. I wanted more of a Buck Rogers, Werner Von Braun XR-1, or Disneyland Moonliner vibe. These examples were not functional rockets, but rather showpieces meant to inspire or educate the public. I want Ryan‘s imagination to be opened by a world of literature and knowledge. This rocket is not meant to fly into space, but rather my son’s imagination.

After making numerous scale drawings with a ruler, set of calipers, and a pencil things were starting to take shape. There are many techniques I had to learn to fill in the gaps of my woodworking knowledge. I had to build a few tools to do things like cut perfect circles - one of the many projects within a project.

My father and grandfather had both dabbled a bit with furniture building at some point in the past. Although I had not done anything with woodworking in about 20 years I wanted to honor this little family tradition with both of them passing earlier this year. I hope that one day I can work on a few projects with my son helping me in the shop like I was able to do with my dad.

These images document my process over the past 3 months of design, construction, and finishing. I’m happy enough with the end result and hope that my son will enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed building it!