Poplar shoe rack #5: The final stages

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Blog entry by JSOvens posted 07-21-2014 06:28 AM 1991 reads 2 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 4: Fixing a mistake Part 5 of Poplar shoe rack series no next part

Well, it’s been a bit of a drawn out project, more so than I originally thought it would be. I began this project with much enthusiasm, quickly got all the parts milled and most of the joinery cut, but then BAM! Ph. D. thesis writing time!

No, I am not done writing yet, but I’m in the final stages and on track to finish and have it submitted some time in August. I was able to finish this shoe rack build mostly because whenever I got frustrated or tired of writing I would spend a few minutes in my shop (garage) doing a little bit more sanding here and there, but now I am finished.

So I left off last time with both the upright supports and the shelves completely assembled. Since then I spent a painstakingly long time sanding in all the nooks and crannies. I didn’t really feel I needed any photos of that process since it’s very hard to tell the difference through unprofessional photography. Just in case anyone’s curious, I used a 1/4 sheet sander on the `faces’ up to 180 grit, and then did a final pass using a random orbit sander (ROS) with 220 grit to remove any swirlies. I didn’t use the ROS for the lower grits because I found it didn’t travel as well over the grid-work surface. All of the edges were done by hand of course.

In an earlier post, I had a short back-and-forth with a fellow LJ about how to approach the joinery between the shelves and uprights. I ended up taking his advise and making a sort of mortise and tenon joint. I cut the mortises using a plunge router and a straight guide, as shown below.

I drew start and stop lines and just nudged up to them with the router by hand (i.e. without the use of stop blocks) which worked quite well:

As for the tenons, they aren’t the traditional style, where the tenon is inset from the piece from all sides, as this would be very tricky what with the shelves already being assembled. Instead, I used a rabetting bit on my router table to carve out tenons as shown below.

Before anyone says anything I want to point out that I normally do use push blocks and am not exactly sure why I wasn’t in this photo, but no harm was done. Do avoid chip out since I am cutting across the end grain, I first scored the cut line with a marking gauge as shown in the following photo, which resulted in the tenons shown in the photo after.

Of course I had to round the tenons with a chisel so that they would fit into the mortises. I felt more comfortable doing this than trying to square the mortises. With this done, the next step was the finish. My wife requested I use a product I previously purchased to try out called `Odie’s Oil’. I believe this was in part because she liked the idea of hand rubbing in a finish together. Whenever she asks to be a part of a project I am more than happy to share that with her, so that is the finish we went with, and I think it turned out very nice.

The oil gave the poplar a very `royal’ golden colour and really brought out the subtle grain patterns. It effectively gave a lot of life to the poplar wood. The one drawback to Odie’s oil that I’ve found is that it really accentuates glue lines, even ones that were nearly invisible before the finish was applied, and also any other imperfections show up a bit more than I’d like. But enough about me talking about it, here are some pictures of the final project after the final glue-up!

This last one shows how it fits into its intended place in our narrow entry-way.

I want to say a few things about what I’d do differently next time:

First, I would plan things a little better. The whole assembly was maybe 2 inches too wide for my longest clamp. This made the final glue-up very challenging. If I had thought about this a bit, I probably would have had no problem with it ending up 2 inches shorter. I think I would approach future projects with more consideration for the capabilities of my tools and supplies.

Second, I would plan out all of the joinery beforehand. If I were to plan this out again, I would do proper mortise and tenon joinery for the shelves and uprights for example.

Third, I would seriously consider getting a thickness planer, or learning how to properly hand plane the boards. The `Mickey Mouse’ method of milling the stock as described earlier in this series resulted in inconsistencies in the half-lap joinery for the shelves and uprights. These inconsistencies needed to be sanded down, which in turn resulted in further unevenness due to the large amount of sanding I needed to do.

Overall though, despite this set-backs, I am very happy with how this turned out in the end. Everything my wife and I look down the stairs when we’re about to go out, or come home through the front door, seeing the shoe rack brings a smile to our faces. I am very excited about improving my skills for future projects.

Thank you to all those who stuck around for this long, admittedly drawn out series. Hopefully I’ll have another one before long!

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

4 comments so far

View Diggerjacks's profile


2253 posts in 3166 days

#1 posted 07-21-2014 07:11 AM

Hello JSOvens

It’s look very strong

Nice builded

Thanks for sharing

-- Diggerjack-France ---The only limit is the limit of the mind and the mind has no limit

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2299 days

#2 posted 07-21-2014 02:35 PM

What a great looking piece of furniture.
As you have discovered, lap joints are a bit ‘fussy’ on the initial set-up and as you stated, the thickness of the stock is the secrete to success.

Very appealing design and well executed.

Best of Luck with your thesis.
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.

View Roger's profile


20929 posts in 2831 days

#3 posted 07-22-2014 07:43 PM

A very fine shoe rack

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View JSOvens's profile


78 posts in 1683 days

#4 posted 07-27-2014 05:56 AM

Thanks guys for the kind comments!

-- Jeffrey S. Ovens, Canada

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