The Den of Slack

Half scale book roombox (part 1)

I’ve been working on a half scale roombox made from an embossed book box I got at Pier 1. I’ve seen boxes like this at Michaels before but they always seemed kind of chintsy. These are really nice, though, with heavy leather covers and leather-lined insides. I got both colors — the black one is big enough for a two-story scene, while the maroon one, when I get around to it, will be one (tall) scene with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

As I described in my last post, I started by making a spiral staircase out of a wooden fan.

Once I knew where the top step would be, I made a floor out of pieces of basswood. These are two 1″ wide pieces with a stained 1/4″ piece in between. I decided to stain the middle piece because it was slightly deeper than the 1″ pieces (I was using scraps I had on hand) and I thought it could look like a beam.

I covered the other portions of the ceiling, including the top inside edge of the box, with a leathery gold scrapbook paper from my stash.

For the floor, I used a sheet of wood veneer from a batch I got off eBay.

I didn’t want to cut into another sheet of veneer, so ended up with a thin strip of floor uncovered at the back of the second floor.

I cut a small strip from the piece leftover from the stair hole, and used this on the left edge of the floor. The rest of the blank area will be covered up by the bookshelves. These are Houseworks bookcases I’ve had lying around for about 10 years — I bought them for the Fairfield and didn’t use them. Never throw anything away!

Here’s the general idea.

I like the reddish “leather” that lines the inside of the box, but wanted to add more visual interest. I found some contrasting leathery scrapbook paper in my pile and cut trim pieces to create wainscot-like paneling.

And I added a fake door. A Houseworks door would have completely dominated the wall so I made a (theoretically) narrower one from the same leathery paper and fancy trim.

While the stain was drying on the trim pieces, I glued in the paper.

Next I added the door trim. When I measured and cut my piece of paper for the door, I made it narrow enough that I’d be able to fit the trim used for the wainscot on either edge of this wall, in addition to door trim. But then when I cut the trim that goes on top of the leathery paper to make the door, I accidentally framed around the outside of the paper instead of making the trimmed door the same height and width as the piece of paper I’d measured and cut.

So, I ended up with a door that’s even bigger than the Houseworks door would have been. Oops. It looks okay here, but once the casing is added to either side it takes up almost the entire wall. Of course, everything can be fixed, and you’ll see how I dealt with it farther down in the post.

After making the door, I knew what size the trim around the door needed to be, so I cut this and stained it. While the stain was drying I glued in the rest of the wainscot pieces.

The base of the stairs just fits within the depth of the box. So when trim for wainscot is added, this bumps out the stairs so they stick out a little.

I dealt with this by cutting out a small portion of the trim for the stair base to slide into.

Gluing in the vertical pieces to make panels, I used a spacer to make sure the three panels on the back wall were the same width.

I also had to cut a chunk out of the top piece of trim, to accommodate a step that’s flush against the back of the wall.

Here it is with these two walls finished. The stain on these trim pieces is Minwax Ebony.

I wanted the door to have a fancy header with crown molding, but because I made my door too big I couldn’t do that without having the header stick out of the box. Instead, I used the same small crown I used on the doors and windows in my Queen Anne Rowhouse.

Here’s the finished door. A bit heavy but hey, it gives you something to look at! Since I didn’t have space to use wainscot trim to the right of the door, I sliced off the little bit of paper that showed through there before gluing on the door trim.

Next up – crown molding! To be continued…


  1. And you can receive pizza deliveries without even having to leave your desk! :)

  2. Great book box – love that leather-look lining.

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