learn from my mistakes #1: newspaper rack

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Blog entry by moshel posted 02-20-2009 01:49 AM 1392 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
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Hi all,

This is the first of (I hope short) series of blog entries that follows projects and the mistakes I made while doing them.

remember that i am an amateur. I am sure an experienced professional would finish this project perfectly in a few hours…. I would appreciate any feedback.

first, here is the final result:

now, this is the original design:

The most critical mistakes were done at this stage – the design. i’ll go over them briefly:
1. the design calls for having the same exact angle at three places – the back and the sides. this is hard to achieve once, and much harder to achieve 7 times (for each shelf)
2. the design calls for very complex assembly. if the back is glued first to the shelves than clamping is very hard as the shelves are angled and many (so probably a jig with slots for the shelves has to be made which is not trivial as well). if the sides are glued first (what I did) than it is very hard to to complete the gluing in one go and it is also very hard to position each shelf so that the back will be flush.

ok. to the process itself:
initially the shelves where wider, but my saw sliding table played tricks on me (see the ducky project), so i had to recut everything. by now it was too narrow, so i decided to add a small piece of wood at the back as extension. that was actually not a bad decision. it gave the project a more “airy” feeling. it also simplified cutting the angle at the back as i could made this piece on the mitre drop saw.

the shelves are made from recycled Rimu, and not from my best pieces (mostly sap wood). Rimu has a very different colour before and after applying finish – it darkens substantially. being a recycled timber, it had lots of nail holes. I used timbermate filler (said Rimu on the packaging….) but as you can see in the photos it did not darken.

I have decide to use biscuit joinery for everything. this was a big mistake. I should have used screws for the sides. screws would provide me with much better ability to position the shelves correctly and would simplify the assembly process considerably. as it is, the big benefit of biscuits (they can be repositioned 1-2mm) was a big problem in the process.

I have decided to glue the shelves one by one to one rail and then glue the other rail. this was a tedious process…. I made a jig to position and support the shelves but the jig got in the way of the clamps so i had to remove it and the shelves moved.

after finishing the gluing of the shelves, when i tried to glue the back, i noticed that there are unbridgeable gaps:

luckily, it was convex, so i could still glue the back to the top and bottom shelves.

i learned heaps from this project. I hope this entry will help others in designing and assembling their projects.

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

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865 posts in 3653 days

#1 posted 02-20-2009 03:49 AM

for some reason the pictures do not appear in the text.
you can see the pictures in

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

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