Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Shelves, Some Pictures

     A reader asked for "in the works" pictures of my current shelf project.  In the crowded garage, some fuzzy smartphone photos are are the best I can do right now, but they show some of the work.

     The first is a view of most of it, seen from the back,  The cross pieces that help keep it stable and (mostly) square are a little clearer than the flat drawing, as well as the bracing piece that should help keep the top shelf from sagging without losing any depth.  The wood's only slightly wider than the fabric storage cubes that will fill most of the space, and losing three-quarters of an inch to a cross-piece won't do.

     The second picture shows my rough joinery, a bit of a stencil and a couple of pencil lines, one to locate the guide for routing the shelf dado and another that carries the line of that dado to the opposite side of the board.  There's a slight difference in width between the shelf and the vertical: some of the wood was bought new and some is salvage.  When working with dimensional lumber at full size, you run the risk of this.  The front edges are aligned, planing will even out the back a little and past that, I'm willing to accept a sixteenth of an inch error in a mostly-hidden place.  A real cabinetmaker, working with something fancier than pine, buys oversize and uses a planer and jointer to get the wood to the necessary dimensions. This wood has a lot of "character," but you have to accept the irregularities that come with that or spend hours trying to pretty it up.

     There is exactly one non-mortised joint in this entire project, where the short vertical supporting the three small shelves meets the full-width shelf above it.  I thought about it, but the complexity of ensuring everything would fit was already pretty high and it didn't seem necessary.  The short shelves may get a triangular brace under the lowest shelf, to carry downard force over to the main vertical on that side and provide some additional lateral stability.

     The next step will be to wipe it down with methylated spirits to remove the pencil marks and mute some of the stencil markings on the wood.  That calls for having the doors and windows open -- and Tam's car farther away!  It's nosed right up to the shelves


The Neon Madman said...

Hmm... going to be quite a project in it's own right moving it into place.

Blackwing1 said...

Thanks for the pictures! It all looks really good, and the dado cuts for the cross-shelving look impressive. Can't wait to see it in place and loaded with the fabric storage cubes.

Roberta X said...

Neon Madman: It's too big to move in one piece. (Well, probably -- I moved my bed into that room, and it's even larger, but it was a slow and difficult process.) The small shelves and the vertical on that side are glued, as is the short vertical between the two upper shelves. Everything else is only held with wood screws. It will get match-marked and taken apart to move it into the room. I haven't decided if I will glue it on reassembly.

Blackwing1: Thank you! Mostly a nice Hitachi router with a good bit, and a small, sharp wood chisel to square up the corners. There's some wandering, here and there, but I think most of it will be hidden.

Buying a router and using guides for every cutting process has done more to improve my woodworking than anything else.

Eck! said...

Did a shelf unit many years back using AB sanded fir plywood, 3/4 inch.
All the joint similar to yours however the tool was skillsaw and a pair
of wood strips to define the rightmost and leftmost edges. Bunch of
passes and dado of the exact desired width and straight. Gets past
the fact that 3/4" ply never was. A chisel to clean it up. Glue and
brads. Front was faced with poplar again glue and brads. Back got
covered with 1/4" AB sanded ply for stiffness and so stuff didn't
fall behind.

Size 70" tall 72" wide 18" deep. The depth was to fit computers
of the day. also pullout for the printer and desktop for working
keyboard and a drawer under it. Finish was natural (no stain)
after heavy sanding and several coats of poly for a satin finish.
The outside and visible surfaces the wood was picked and placed
for minimum patches or knots. The result is the wood has
character and looks nice.

The materials were chosen at that time for cost.

Moving it required first getting it on furniture dollies as it
was heavy. Roughly 4 sheets of 3/4" ply needed with all the
shelves and depth plus the desktop (birch veneer ply with pine
doublers). Plywood is heavy stuff, only beaten by MDF.

I would build two more as people that got to see it wanted it.
The sale easily covers the total cost of the first one and a
bit more. The latter ones I got a router and belt sander for
faster work. I still had to hunt for a 11/16ths inch router
bit. I learned wood working from my pop and old school at
that but he showed me tricks I use to this day.

I like working in wood and metal too. There is a satisfaction
in seeing a finished object that has tangible substance.

Keep building!


Roberta X said...


The weight of plywood and the awkwardness of working with it are why I mostly use dimensional lumber.

The exception to that is floor of the office here. I found out it was heavily water-damaged under carpet after I'd bought the house. I replaced it with 3/4" oak-veneer plywood, as near to full sheets as I could manage, with 3/4" lap joints. It's holding up all right, though it got some chair wear before I bought proper mats for the chairs. Did that while I was moving in, so I had a rented van to carry the plywood.

I used MDF for the very first set of bookshelves I built -- MDF shelves with a 2x4 under each one. The vertical supports were each a pair of 2x4s that sandwiched the the ones under the shelves. I cut the shelves from a 4x8 sheet of MDF using a handheld jigsaw and pencil guidlines. They were...wavy.

John in Philly said...

As you said, using a router and guides to cut dadoes gave us far better results than the dado blade and tablesaw ever gave us.

Nice work.

Eck! said...

Prefer dimensional as well and in more interesting woods too.
The yabut was 18 inch wide is hard to come up with on anything
short of unlimited budget. So ply and veneer plys are the usual.

For standard depth shelves then its dimensional as books aren't
as deep as old school computers and displays. I did that at one
end of the room as I needed access for the technical library.
10ft wide by 4ft high surrounding a window wall hung. I was
able to use 1x10 #1 pine for that.

I like how you did offset shelves and maintained structure.

If I had my way a planer and joiner doing glue up of planks
would be interesting to do again. Then again I'd need a
workshop with space for all that.

Tricks used was a long cut system where a 8ft straight edge
is clamped to the work and the skill saw runs along that for
a straight cut. Same for saber saw. Two tables to support
the work is needed. You do that to work with 4x8 foot
pieces. I use that for play and MDF. Table saw is handy
but for really wide work a pain. For ripping strips for
edging and the like its the bomb. I also make up a frame
that supports a skillsaw as a moving guided cutter and the
frame to keep the work square like a cutoff saw save for
it was built to take 20" side pieces. All built up of ply
and 1x3. Its gadgets like that that takes a little time
to make them it simplifies all the later square cuts to
marking a spot, slide it in and run the saw. For shelves
using 1" a stack of four can be done with that (least
with a larger saw.).

Keep building!