Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Shelves, Interrupted

     Woke with a terrible headache Tuesday.  Weather was coming in and this time of year is not the kindest to my sinuses.

     But there was sunshine and a project already begun, so I got up, took OTC pain meds, had coffee and a little breakfast, and got to work.

     Set up the compound sliding miter saw (I have come to really like it -- I used table saws for years, starting back when we ran them without any guards, and the sliding compound miter is easier to use and much easier to set up for large pieces) and a support, knocked out a couple of brace sections, then rigged to cut the sides, 95" tall.

     "Eight-foot" boards vary a little in length and over the years, I have settled on trimming them an inch short of nominal.  It has been a good compromise.  The ceilings at Roseholme Cottage are an inch or two over eight feet, which allows good clearance.  The shelves I'm working on now are 11"  deep and I may end up having to trim corners to stand them up. 

     It takes a little while to set up to trim longer lengths of wood.  I work outdoors, and the back sidewalk is my longest level area with a hard surface.  When I do woodwork, getting everything measured, lined up and clamped down takes ten or twenty times as long as the cutting.  I spent years growing up with parents who could do this sort of thing by eye and a few casual measurements (and who were honestly puzzled that other people could not*), but I don't have that knack; if I'm concentrating on cutting a straight line, it inevitably turns out to be at the wrong angle, in the wrong place, or I will have cut clean through something else as well (most infamously, a tabletop).  Doing it the way that works for me, there are long intervals of silence and then a quick "Bzzzzzzp-zing!" as I run the saw, not needing to focus on anything but making a clean cut.

     It's slow.  By the time I had both sides cut to length, the skies were darkening, and by the time I had unclamped and stowed away the saw, the wood blocks to prop the long ends of the boards at saw-table height and all the small tools, the wind was rising and it was obvious we were in for a storm.  To make matters worse, my head was aching with ever-greater intensity.

     Once I had gathered up the remaining tools and supplies -- with no little haste -- and had put them away, the pain in my ears was so bad, I could barely keep my eyes focused.  I took more acetaminophen and aspirin, and went back to my bedroom where I crawled under the covers and kind of collapsed.  The tomcats joined me and we dozed away most of the afternoon, me hurting and the cats purring.

     I'll finish the shelves another day.
* My parents were extraordinary people, each of them among the youngest of large families of extraordinary people, and for them, that was "ordinary."  Both were highly successful in their careers despite never attending college.  I don't know if they ever really grasped just how far out on the edge of the curve they were, even when we all -- for fun! -- took the IQ test that accompanied a Reader's Digest article about Mensa and every single family member qualified to apply, most by a quite comfortable margin.  Both of my parents had picked up basic skills like cooking, carpentry, gardening and raising small animals so early in life that they were honestly mystified that other people, including their own children, didn't "just know" them or could not quickly work them out from first principles.
     I have gathered that their own parents did not want their children feeling superior or "putting on airs;" neither family was well-to-do or especially well-connected.  But just a little more self-awareness of their giftedness probably would have helped them cope better with people who struggled to keep up with them.


Douglas2 said...

I just has a light-bulb go off over my head with the "trim the corners" bit.

We have two tall bookcases that came from my spouse's family home, that have a giant 45° notch at the base, leaving a 'foot' of about 3 inches at the front of the upright.

For us this has meant that they sit flush with the wall even with our victorian built-up baseboards, and the COG is always behind the support so they aren't going to tip forward.

In place, the notch at the back bottom of the upright planks is not really noticeable, especially as there is often something else sitting next to it.

But it just occurred to me that this would allow tilting the bookcase up into place in rooms that were barely taller than the bookcase. In doing it myself, I would think "ceiling gets in the way, make a notch at the top to clear". But if the weight of the assembled bookcase is low enough for two people to lift easily, it is equivalent to "the floor is too high, make a notch there to clear".

It is odd that I never thought of this before, because:

A) I've done my share of floor-to-ceiling bookcases where I did the final assembly such that they could be assembled upright in place, as there would be no tipping them up. and

B) I'm looking right now at a bookcase that is only present in the room because our farmer-built mid-19th-century house has sagging floors. When my wife said she wanted that bookcase in the dining room, I measured the diagonal and then found the spot in the room where it could be placed upright before shoving it over against the wall at the "short" end of the room where the floor is higher.

stuartl said...

As you say the actual cutting is the smallest part of the overall job. Measure twice (or more)
Cut once

waepnedmann said...

Might I suggest a toe-kick base for your shelf unit?
Basically it is 3-4 inch high detached platform that the shelf unit rests on.
Usually you recess it back an inch or three such that the shelf unit overhangs a bit.
If you make it a smidge (a precise measurement used by cabinet makers) taller than your baseboards the shelf unit can be pushed back so that it fits against the wall and there will be a minimal gap between the wall and the sides of the shelf unit.
To install, you put the shelf unit in place , raise it up, and slide the toe-kick base under the unit.
Let the shelf unit down on the base, attach the unit to the wall, and reward yourself by backing off and spending some admire time looking at your completed project (adult beverage is optional, but recommended).

Roberta X said...

I build a toe-kick into most shelves, as high as the baseboard, since the bottom shelf has to clear it anyway. The inset vertical element serves as one of the stabilizing pieces that keeps the shelves square. (The other one is at the top, usually set at the back.) The shelves and cross-pieces all fit into grooves routed into the sides. The baseboards at Roseholme Cottage are 7" tall, or just a little less. I cut clearance for the baseboards in the sides.

I have built a lot of shelves and this method has given me good results. I use many clamps during assembly and if I have been careful with cutting and routing, it all gets pulled pretty square, even using inexpensive pine boards (or salvaged packing-crate wood).

For these shelves, the space under the bottom shelf will serve as a place for shoes, so the stabilizer goes at the back, just in from the baseboard clearance cut. We'll see how it works.

waepnedmann said...

One never seems to have too many clamps!
I like the shoe storage idea.