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Floating Serpentine Shelf #8: Final Assembly and Installation

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Blog entry by Ron Stewart posted 07-15-2017 02:45 PM 1143 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Applying the Finish Part 8 of Floating Serpentine Shelf series no next part

Initially, I thought I could assemble the entire shelf in the garage, and that my wife and I could move it into the study. As my wife is happy to tease me, what in the world was I thinking? Weight-wise, it wouldn’t have been a problem. Size-wise, it’s theoretically possible, but totally impractical. We’d have dinged the frame of every door and cased opening along the path. So I did the final assembly in the study.

Here’s the finished back panel with the shelf alignment dowels in place.

I did one last dry fit in the garage to make sure the shelves would slide over the dowels, and I also checked to see if I could fit the sides between the attached shelves. In most cases, the shelves had just enough “give” to make it work. (If you recall from an earlier post, I had trimmed the dowels in the sides to short stubs.) In two cases, the shelf offsets from the panel were too short to allow any flex.

I placed all of the shelves face-down on the study’s floor, then glued and clamped the sides between the short-offset shelves. After the glue dried, my wife helped me place the back panel onto the shelves. With that done, it was a simple matter to drive eight 2” long, #14 screws through the back panel into each shelf. (I had drilled and countersunk the screw holes earlier.) I staggered the screws vertically to try to counteract sagging forces on the front edges of the shelves.

Here it is, ready to install. (The remaining sides are not in place yet—I decided to wait until the shelf was on the wall so I could spread glue on horizontal surfaces.)

To install the shelf, I placed the wall cleats and guide in position and drove two 3-inch x 1/4” lag screws through each cleat.

Then I removed the temporary guide boards, and we were ready to install.

Getting the assembled shelf over the cleats and onto the wall was a bit of a struggle for two people, but we managed to do it. (Three people would have been better—two to lift, and one to direct the positioning.) After that, all that remained was gluing and clamping the remaining sides.

At long last, the shelf was finished.

As a reminder, here’s the pre-construction SketchUp rendering.

And here’s the real thing.

Unfortunately, despite all my care with the cleats, the shelf isn’t perfectly level. I’m not sure what went wrong. Maybe I failed to accurately level the cleats, or maybe the shelf cleats aren’t mating perfectly with the wall cleats. If it bothers us enough, we can remove the shelf, make adjustments, and re-install, but we’ll hold off on that for now.

Thanks to anyone who has read along. Happy woodworking!

-- Ron Stewart



2 comments so far

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

65 posts in 1621 days


#1 posted 07-28-2017 02:45 AM

This is a wonderful project! Thanks for sharing each step of the build, seeing it step by step gives me courage enough that I’m thinking I might attempt to duplicate it! Might! (-:

View Ron Stewart's profile

Ron Stewart

103 posts in 2317 days


#2 posted 07-28-2017 02:40 PM

Thank you very much, Kelly (both for reading and commenting).

Another member mentioned to me that he might consider building something similar, and his idea was to hollow out thick boards to form the skins. (He’d end up with C-shaped skins that he’d have to cap on the ends.) I’m not sure how he’d do that, but one advantage of that approach is that the top and bottom corners would be perfect, and he wouldn’t have to deal with all the fuss of beveling and gluing the skins. It’s something you might want to consider if you decide to build your own. If you do, I’d appreciate it if you’d send me a message so I can see how it turns out. Also feel free to send me a message if you need any other information (the SketchUp model, more details, etc.).

-- Ron Stewart

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