Shelf mounting

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Forum topic by BradMaynes posted 09-30-2015 02:04 PM 526 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 1023 days

09-30-2015 02:04 PM

So, I am most of the way through building an arts and crafts end table. I have significantly slowed down over the last week or so, and I’ve determined the reason. Okay, the reason OTHER than stopping to build a Dutch tool chest. The reason is that, while I’ve figured out joinery solutions for everything that has made me happy, this bottom shelf is killing me.

Though the table is not exactly the same as the image below, the shelf is similar enough for discussion purposes:

The question is how to mount the shelf. I’ve come up with a few options, none of which have thrilled me so far:

1. Stop dado, either to fit the shelf thickness itself, or a tongue from the shelf to hide the joinery a bit. I would cut the dado slightly oversize, and glue the shelf in only at the middle, to allow for seasonal expansion.

2. Tight mortise and tenon in the middle, loose mortise and tenons on the outside, glue only the middle M&T. Similar to the above, this would allow for seasonal expansion in the outside M&T’s.

If it’s relevant, I’m a hand-tool woodworker, and I’m looking to avoid “glue and screw” or “glue and screw and then cover up with plugs so it looks doweled”. I feel like either of the above solutions would work, and probably either would work relatively well. I just feel like I’m missing something for some reason, so I thought I’d ask if anyone had any other “correct” or more appropriate methods.

Also, I’m not thrilled at the prospect of doing a stop-dado by hand, which I feel like is almost certainly really the right answer. ;)

Thanks in advance,


3 replies so far

View Halc's profile


146 posts in 1625 days

#1 posted 09-30-2015 02:23 PM

I would choose #1. There is no way the shelf could pop out if the rest of your joinery is solid.

View Mark's profile


916 posts in 1998 days

#2 posted 09-30-2015 03:04 PM

+1 for #1. Although it’s a small table, you still should make provision for movement. The dado will also provide support for whatever you put on the shelf.

-- Mark

View jumbojack's profile


1677 posts in 2647 days

#3 posted 09-30-2015 03:19 PM

+2 for the stop groove.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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