Built in Cabinets/Bookcase #3: The Shelves

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Blog entry by Jerome posted 01-28-2014 12:06 AM 1996 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: From Base to Cabinet Part 3 of Built in Cabinets/Bookcase series Part 4: The Doors »

The shelves, the shelves, the shelves! There were so many “learning experiences” with this portion. I never made a dado cut. I didnt have a dado blade set, or a dado insert for my table saw, and my fence was too short to support my work. To make matters worse, my plywood was not flat.

HD did me a favor by cutting the plywood into strips. Someone on CL did me a favor by giving me an Armoire, which i cannibalized for screws, wood, drawer slides, knobs, and other hardware (nice poplar at that). I did what i could to cut the sides of the shelving straight on the table saw, but that was a scary experience, so i opted for the circular saw. Im not big on using a circular saw, but i put my clamps and old workbench to use.

Along the way a light went off in my head. I needed a table saw sled. In the meantime, i made my shelves and sides the sled. I cut some of the hardwood from the Armoire and made strips of wood so they would fit snug in the miter slot. I countersunk the two screw holes where the wood touches the mitre slot. Then I flipped my work over and attached the strip to make the cuts. See the pic below. Straight cuts every time!

With accurate cuts the gig was on! But wait! no dado insert. I shopped online for inserts, but the inserts for my saw are about 3/16 thick. I could cut the shape out, but the thickness was another issue. I picked up a piece of 1/4×5x6 oak from the store. Luckily, my retired neighbor just bought a planer. I used my combination square to measure the thickness and it was planed down to size. I then cut the oak using my scroll saw. I attached a clip on the bottom and set up the dado. Slowly rose the blade and wa laa! Zero clearance dado insert!

Once all my cuts were made, I was ready for assembly, or so i thought. When i measured the shelves and sides, they were exact. However, my walls were not straight nor was precision the best route. I actually assembled both shelf cases (glued, screwed, attached the backed board and additional bracing) only to find out that they did not fit! Luckily, i found out before the glue cured all the way. I ended up cutting the shelves an inch short so that they could fit in the space. Assembly was an issue too because. i only hand hand clamps. I found a way to do it by clamping boards on each side of the shelves to support the assembly (long story)

At the end of the day i decided to go without the backer board as shown below. I wanted to leave some space behing the shelves for future use, but i needed to use the outlet. I removed the trim and board and just got the shelves as flush with the wall as possible. One thing to mention about the top of the side pieces of the shelf; assume the you are wiring the lights and the wires will go from one side to the other. Either a hole has to be drilled, or an area of the top portion of the sides cut out. I opted to cut an L shaped portion of the top sides, leaving the top face for the front and crown to nail to. The l-shaped extraction meant that the shelf could be leaned in, instead of lifting it up and moving it straight backwards. If not carefully, the back- top part of the shelf sides could peirce the drywall.

Next up…The Doors!

-- Jerome, Marietta, GA

3 comments so far

View CJIII's profile


157 posts in 1632 days

#1 posted 01-28-2014 01:01 AM

Looks good!

-- Woodworking with Limited Tools

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3361 days

#2 posted 01-29-2014 07:19 PM

Challenging Jerome, but a lot of learning points. We all go through these kind of things with our projects, or at least I do.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View wakeque's profile


5 posts in 1205 days

#3 posted 03-06-2015 02:16 PM


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