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Walnut book shelf questions.

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Blog entry by RussellAP posted 05-24-2012 01:00 PM 1094 reads 0 times favorited 34 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I visited my local wood guy yesterday after the latest load of walnut came out of the kiln. I got there early enough to have first pick and got a couple of nice 8ft x 11” 15/16 boards for my twin book shelves that I plan to make for my living room.

There are going to be a few challenges in this project. One is how I’m going to cut my dado’s and rabbets in such a long and heavy board. I hate free handing a router and the board is too long to use my table saw. Pushing it through my TS may get dicey because it’s very hard to support a 7 ft 15/16 board without twisting it as it is cutting.

I was thinking of just scoring the dado’s with a circular saw and using a chisel to remove the wood between the scores. This may be the most accurate way to do it, but I’m sure you all may have better idea’s about how it should be done.

I was also thinking I may use rabbet joints in the corners and either a biscuit or dowel to reinforce along with some walnut along the top as a fascia for extra strength.

I hate the idea of holes and pins for shelf supports, but if the only alternative is to dado or make permanent shelves I may have to do that. I do plan to have one permanent shelf (non-adjustable) in the middle.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.



34 comments so far

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1372 posts in 1036 days


#1 posted 05-24-2012 01:12 PM

You could make a dado jig out of MDF to guide your router using bushings or a bearing bit. Would give you consistent, clean, repeatable results.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2954 posts in 953 days


#2 posted 05-24-2012 01:21 PM

BinghamtonEd- I’m a firm believer in moving the wood through the blade instead of the blade through the wood. Love router tables but hate freehanding them. A 3 hp router can ruin a board so fast. I have only used my router on small projects in the past. If this were a softer wood, I’d feel more confident about your idea. I could use the circular saw to cut three slices in the walnut then it would be a lot easier to route out whats left using a guide, but to rely on the router to stay in the guides would make me cringe.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2315 days


#3 posted 05-24-2012 01:30 PM

I’m a firm believer in …

Sounds like it’s time to adapt some new beliefs ;)

moving the wood through the blade works well when the wood is supported properly – aka – a sled, or a rolling table with a helper person to help you push the 7ft (thats LONG) boards straight and steady.

a 3hp router can ruin a board quickly, but so can a table saw, and then you also have the high potential for a kick back (cross cut a 7foot board).

If it were me (and I did similar projects) – larger boards go on a workbench, and I use a square jig to follow with my handheld router. While you may consider this freehand – it isn’t so, your router is locked to the square jig, you are not really freehanding it in the sense that you can come out of line. there are router jigs out there for just that purpose that make it impossible for you to mess this up. look it up. this is the safer and easier way abut it when dealing with larger boards/workpieces – move the blade/cutter over the wood.

(although for smaller pieces its usually easier to move the wood over the cutter)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2954 posts in 953 days


#4 posted 05-24-2012 01:35 PM

PurpLev- its times like these when I wish I’d kept my radial arm saw. If it were a mere 1/2 dado, I’d feel more confident in using your suggestion, but how would a router handle nearly an inch in solid walnut? This is a record walnut tree in Kansas City by the way. I feel honored to have some of it and really respect the wood and would hate to mar it in any way.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Cato's profile

Cato

641 posts in 1979 days


#5 posted 05-24-2012 01:36 PM

Do you have an edge guide for your router? That would make it easy to cut rabbets for the back panel, and then for your shelf dadoes you can make a simple jig as an offset guide for your router base to crosscut the dadoes.

When I made my bookcases I crosscut the dadoes on the permanent shelf in both boards at the same time so they would be a perfect match. I did drill holes for adjustable shelves, as that gave my wife some latitude in her decorating some of the shelves with some items other than books.

When I did the permanent shelf dadoes I had already bought one of those long aluminum edge guides that the big box stores sell to use with a circular saw for breaking down plywood panels. I just clamped it at both ends once I set it to my router bases offset and made sure that the bit fell in between my layout lines all the way across, but a piece of straight wood could accomplish the same thing.

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1372 posts in 1036 days


#6 posted 05-24-2012 01:43 PM

Russel,
I completed an entertainment center where I needed to route 3/4” wide dados, almost 1/2” deep in hard maple. My dadoes came out virtually flawless. The only additional thing I did was score the surface of the maple with a blade on both edges of the intended dado, before routing, to prevent tear out. I then made a thin pass (~1/16”), lowered the bit a little, made another pass, etc. Went very quickly making multiple passes as the jig stays put, you just lower the bit to the next stop. Do a test piece first to make sure you have the router speed set correctly, and you may be surprised at how nicely your dados can be done with the router.
Ed

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2954 posts in 953 days


#7 posted 05-24-2012 01:45 PM

Cato- I wouldn’t have any problem using the router for the rabbet for the back panel, it should only be about a 1/4 inch. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to use a piece of plywood or some thinner walnut planks on the back yet.
When I bought my router I had planned to use it only in the table I bought for it, so I don’t have anything else for it such as guides. The shelves are going to be 15/16 thick and I’m thinking that that’s a lot for any router to cut through in walnut. Would you recommend using several different size bits to work up to the one inch cut?

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2954 posts in 953 days


#8 posted 05-24-2012 01:47 PM

Ed- My bits are some that I got at Sears close out sale. They are carbide. Do you recommend a better brand or will these work?

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Cato's profile

Cato

641 posts in 1979 days


#9 posted 05-24-2012 01:48 PM

+1 on PurpLev’s suggestion on the square jig. My sides were cabinet grade plywood so they could be replaced had I messed up.

If the stock would be hard to replace, then Purp’s jig if I am understanding him correctly would be similar to what the wood whisperer just posted a day or so ago for flattening a workbench top.

that would lock the router into a fixed track.

View Cato's profile

Cato

641 posts in 1979 days


#10 posted 05-24-2012 01:58 PM

If you are using a plunge router or fixed base I would stay with the same bit as that would save considerable set up time.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2954 posts in 953 days


#11 posted 05-24-2012 02:13 PM

Jonathan, I’ll have to check into a square base for my router, it came with a round base I think. The shelf frame will be 11” and the shelves will be 9 or 9 1/2 which isn’t too long of a cut. I’ll have to use every Jorgensen clamp I have though to hold the jig and the work.
What kind of wood would you suggest I make the jig from, or does it matter?

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2954 posts in 953 days


#12 posted 05-24-2012 02:15 PM

Cato, it’s not a plunge, I bought this one to mount in a table because at the time I didn’t think I’d do anything this large.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View RussellAP's profile

RussellAP

2954 posts in 953 days


#13 posted 05-24-2012 02:25 PM

Here is the wood I got yesterday. The two shelf sides and a couple shelves. The other shelves will come out of the kiln next time. 5 shelves per case.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1372 posts in 1036 days


#14 posted 05-24-2012 02:37 PM

Russel,
To be honest, I used a lousy old cheapo bit that I inherited a while back. Just never got around to replacing it. A better bit would probably cut easier and be less stressful on your router, but I had no problem with my old one.

However, it looks like you have justification here to buy new router bits if you so choose :) As my wife knows, every project comes with the “Well, I’m going to need to buy (insert tool here)” clause.
Cheers.
Ed

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View Cato's profile

Cato

641 posts in 1979 days


#15 posted 05-24-2012 02:49 PM

Russel, I love working with walnut and those are some nice boards for your project.

Router bits are not overly expensive compared to the cost of the wood in a project and I am definitely on the same page with Ed, every project justifies a little upgrade for this or that.

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