To get shelf in place between four turned legs is a challenge I’d not considered before, much less undertaken. Should the shelf have concave rounds at each corner to match profiles with the legs, with dowels to hold them in place? Or should the same setup have notches cut in the legs for additional holding power? The shelf will sag, being in the neighborhood of 50” long; is additional support needed? What can be done to mitigate sagging? All of this, and more, with the certain knowledge there’s little margin for error. Make the shelf board too short, and I’m pulling the legs out of square in some way. Unintentionally too long, same thing. As Winnie the Pooh says, ‘think, think, think.’
I don’t know how high off the floor a lower shelf should be, or how much room is enough above the shelf, so I reached for a cut-off 1x and used it to make a horizontal mark on the inside of each the left and right pair of legs; the plan is to notch in a pair of dado’d rails that in turn will hold the shelf. Four stopped dados in turned legs… sounds fun, right? I thought so, too. Mess up, and it’s back to Lowes for another leg (or two, or three, etc.). Oh, well. Gotta learn sometime, right?
Each side rail was cut somewhat long (how much longer was a wag…), as I didn’t really care how deep each end extended into a leg. Had to be at least 3/8”, but not as much as 3/4” as that’d weaken the leg (or so I think). From there, I wanted to rails to set in the dado fully, if that makes sense. So getting an even depth was a focus (to have full contact when the rail is pressed into place and glued). Hard to chisel on a tapered and turned leg, but I’ve covered that. Held a rail end against a leg and traced a rectangle. First I did a couple shallow cuts at the top and bottom of each ‘mortise’ with the gent’s backsaw, then got busy chiseling.
Lots of fit checks for each, of course.
The way I kept the legs perpendicular to the ground and parallel to each other was low-tech; I measured the distance between the centers of each side leg and checked that it was the same at the bottom of the legs using a couple small marks; when the distances matched, I was done chiseling. Clamp-up of the pieces then confirmed all was well.
With the rails figured out, attention turned to the actual shelf itself. I looked around the shop for materials to use; there was a nice piece of 1×12 pine leaning against the back wall… But with any kind of weight applied, that thing would sag something fierce. After pondering some kind of support structure for the shelf and coming up with nothing aesthetically neutral, the long piece of red oak caught my eye. It’d lend weight to the piece at a low center of gravity, which is good, and is more rigid than the pine alternative. Finally, it was cheap. Very cheap. Okay, it was free; a handyman-for-hire friend of mine pulled a couple long and wide pieces from an office as part of a renovation and gave them to me vs. sending each to the dumpster. I didn’t think to include the shelf board in the quote, either, so this was a win-win.
Width needed was around 12 ½”, board was not wide enough. So a couple rip cuts with a second piece of the red oak stock, and jointing w/ Heft & Hubris, resulted in stock that needed a final rip, so I got a chance to use my ‘new’ panel marking gauge.
Simple but effective iron tool. Long point that slides up and down a trapezoidal shaft, small ‘hook’ on the end.
With the shelf board done (yay! I made a board!), I added a dado to each side rail w/ the Stanley #45.
Then did a fit check of the shelf. All was good! Here it is, in place and hit with some filler where it sported a couple finish nail holes from it’s former life.
And of course, another sandbag sighting; they’re always in use with these pieces. For dry-fitting, the sandbags and clamps work together to add stability. For glue-ups, the sandbags really drag the piece down on all four legs, getting good contact across the board.
Now that everything is constructed, it’s safe to glue up to final form, lightly sand any surface imperfections and apply sealer / primer. Easy enough, right? Right! Here it is, then (glue up went on without a hitch!):
The drawer frame will be included in the glue up just prior to fitting the drawers, and that’s another installment. Until then, thanks for looking!
-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --