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Magazine rack #1: I like the design, but how to build it?

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Blog entry by Mark Gipson posted 1941 days ago 3059 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Magazine rack series no next part

One of my next projects is a magazine rack for our hair salon.

I drew up a short list of requirements:

  • Wall mounted so the magazines can be removed from the coffee table
  • Only big enough for around 6 magazines so we don’t have piles of old magazines in the salon
  • Quite challenging to build for a beginner (only my 2nd project) but not too hard, no hand cut dovetails please!

After a few sketches and a couple of attempts in SketchUp I have a design I am quite happy with. The proportions are wrong at the moment and I will make it about 4 inches shorter in height which will improve the proportions and make sure the title of each magazine is easy to read.

SketchUp magazine rack

The final rack will be around 18 inches wide, 11 inches high and made from 1/2” stock, in this case it will be solid rubber wood.

While I am happy with the design I am struggling with how to actually put it together and deciding what kind of joints I should be using. I know I could screw and plug everything but I would like to at least attempt to build some of this rack using joinery.

This is what I am thinking so far:

  • The back slots into a dado in the sides, leaving space behind it for a French cleat
  • The bottom and sides are joined with box joints, this will be a challenge for me
  • The slatted front part is put together with mortice and tenons, a big challenge and maybe it will be too difficult for me to accurately cut that number of joints in one work piece

What I am really not sure on:

  • How is the front slatted section fixed to the sides?
  • Should be back be secured to the sides or left to float to allow for wood movement?

I may be biting off more than I can chew for my current skill level but designing the piece myself is just as important to me as actually building it. If anybody has time enough to help me on a good way to put this rack together I would be very happy to receive some guidance.



3 comments so far

View Don Newton's profile

Don Newton

712 posts in 2223 days


#1 posted 1941 days ago

Hi Mark, Don’t overthink this! I appreciate your wanting to challenge your skill level but don’t frustrate yourself. The box joints would be overkill, let’s keep in mind we are holding magazines not lead bars. I would approach this as a series of components being the back, front, sides and bottom. I agree with Dave that if the back is solid the grain should be horizontal. This also eliminates visible end grain. The bottom would be the same. I would have the bottom concealed behind the bottom rail of the front assemble to eliminate the visible joint. The front can be either doweled or mortise and tenon, I would dowel it, unless of course you wanted to practice your mortise and tenons then go for it. The ends could be solid material bandsawed or jigsawed to shape. The front, back and bottom could be doweled to the ends. The french cleat is probably overkill, maybe some concealed keyhole slots would work better. If you dowel it together you can finish the entire project BEFORE you assemble it. That would be sweet! 18” wide seems kinda long as most magazines are around 12”. Rubber wood????? What the heck is that? Good luck and please keep us posted on your progress.

-- Don, Pittsburgh

View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

171 posts in 1985 days


#2 posted 1941 days ago

Thanks everybody for the suggestions. I think using dowels is a good idea and it will be a challenge as I haven’t used them before. The only dowels I have found here in Thailand are 8mm in diameter, should I be using 3/4” stock with that size of dowel?

Don, rubber wood is also known as parawood, it is the wood from rubber trees that are no longer producing latex. I am using it at the moment as it is the only wood available here that is square and planed, I don’t have the equipment or hand plane skills to deal with rough timber just yet. It’s not the most beautiful wood but it’s OK to work with and relatively cheap to buy. We have 1,000 rubber trees that are almost 3 years old so it’s nice to support our fellow farmers as well.

View Mark Gipson's profile

Mark Gipson

171 posts in 1985 days


#3 posted 1940 days ago

Dave, that looks very nice and not too difficult to make. I was playing with SketchUp last night and our versions look very similar after I changed the proportions of mine. I am still learning how to use SketchUp, how did you make the geometry for the dados? Did you use the intersect feature or draw them by hand?

2nd version

I would like to get more practice with making mortice and tenons and they may actually be easier for me than dowels, I don’t own any kind of dowelling jig or a drill press yet.

How would you secure the back to the sides on your design and still allow for wood movement? I’m still trying to learn about wood movement and how it works, especially in Thailand. Everything I read about movement due to humidity changes seems to be based around high humidity in the summer and low in the winter. Here in Bangkok the humidity is generally around 90%+ in the morning, drops to ~30% during the day and rises again at night. What affect does that have on my wood?

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