Poplar shoe rack #1: Putting the first shoe forward

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Blog entry by JSOvens posted 02-25-2014 06:52 AM 2484 reads 1 time favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Poplar shoe rack series Part 2: The makeshift mill »

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my first project blog entry on LJs. As I will write about (maybe) in another series, I have a blog on Google’s Blogspot (started before I new about LJs). Now that I am a member here, I thought I’d try using this site as a medium for writing about my projects, so we will see how this goes.

As the series title suggests, I am embarking on a journey to build a shoe rack. This came as a request from my wife, who is getting tired of finding her shoes covered in dust after being left in our garage (my workshop). Living in a townhouse, the entry-way is quite narrow, and having numerous pairs of shoes scattered about just wont do, so we leave our extras in the garage. So I looked to Google images for inspiration (I find it very useful for design ideas not only for furniture projects, but for shop projects and jigs as well) and came up with this design:

The top image is a SketchUp drawing showcasing the overall design, whereas the lower image highlights the lattice design on the shelves. The width is no larger than 12” due to our narrow entryway, but I plan to make it about 3’ in length which will comfortably hold three pairs of shoes my size side-by-side (so maybe 4 of hers). So that it will not be in our way, I am also restricting the height to about 17”. This gives about 8-10” between the shelves once everything is taken into account.

The original image I found has all slats equal in width, so in order to add a bit of myself to the piece, I varied the width of some of the slats in both directions, while keeping the square holes square. Furthermore, I plan on using half-lap joinery for almost the entire project (the one exception being the joinery between the shelves and uprights).

Because this is my first solid wood project of this size, and also because it’s just a shoe rack, I was going to make it using pine. However, I recently acquired several large hardwood boards at a very good price from a local woodworker who is retiring, and among them were these very nice looking (in my opinion anyways) poplar boards:

If your goal is to use the poplar as a cheap substitute for maple, then these are not the boards for you as they have a large amount of green. I finished up a couple of small sample pieces, and they have a very rustic, yet fine quality which I think will work well for a shoe rack. Plus, I got these pieces cheaper than what I would have paid for an equal volume of construction grade 2×4s.

My next step will be to mill these pieces to the appropriate dimensions which will be quite a challenge since they are very cupped and twisted, and I don’t have a planer, jointer or any hand planes! I plan to be more committed to regular updates on this project, so I hope you’ll stick around!

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

1 comment so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1651 posts in 2478 days

#1 posted 02-25-2014 12:35 PM

Looks like a great lesson in accurate joinery.

Good luck with it.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

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