HELP! I am a beginner with a bookshelf on the mind

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Forum topic by Hopefulbeginner posted 10-28-2015 02:48 PM 484 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 359 days

10-28-2015 02:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: bookshelf no fasteners joinery help

Hello lumberjocks,

I am ver much a beginning woodworker and I really want to build the above bookshelf for my new home. The only thing I am not positive about is how to cut the slits that hold the shape of the shelf at an angle. Do I do this with a handheld router and a jig? Can some one please help?


The Hopeful Beginner

6 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile


2110 posts in 898 days

#1 posted 10-28-2015 03:11 PM

Basically what you have is an angled through-mortise.

My approach would be to make a initial slot perpendicular to the upright, then make a paring block of the suitable angle of the shelf and pare with a chisel.

I think if you started with something like a 3/8’ router bit you would be OK but you will have to do some geometry and definitely use some scrap wood to figure out the exact dimensions.

Once you determine the layout, score a line with a marking knife on both sides and using the paring block, only chisel down 1/2 from each side to avoid damage.

You can also forgo the router completely and just go with a mortise chisel.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2263 posts in 1787 days

#2 posted 10-28-2015 05:55 PM

I’d form each side piece from two smaller pieces. Install a dado set the width of the shelf on the table saw, then run the pieces over at an angle using the miter gauge, cutting half the depth of your final mortise. Be careful about making sure you’re angling the right pieces the right way, so that when you glue the two smaller boards together, you have your through mortises at the correct angle.

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

View MrUnix's profile


4022 posts in 1617 days

#3 posted 10-28-2015 06:06 PM

I don’t see any need to cut the slots to match the angle of the boards… Simple through cuts, maybe rounded over on the edges a little, should work just fine.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View BikerDad's profile


284 posts in 3019 days

#4 posted 10-28-2015 08:31 PM

Drill starter holes at the appropriate angle. Then use a jigsaw with a tilt base (not all jigsaws have tilting bases) to cut the slots. Clean up with a chisel/file/sandpapers. If you don’t have a jigsaw, you could also simply chain drill holes at the appropriate angle and then clean up. If you were really adventurous and had a track saw, you could plunge cut the slots, then use a chisel on the ends, but I suspect you don’t have a track saw.

I’d recommend making a “shop shelf” out of pine to practice the different options you choose to explore, then pick the one that works best for you and make the “house shelf” out of the wood you want to use for the good stuff.

The basic challenge that makes a router less than optimal for this task is the angle. You might be able to get a trim router with a long bit, or a mid size router with a really long bit, that can cut this, but the angle makes it tough. Do the math (or do mockups), and if you can find a bit that long enough, all you’ll need to do is fab up some sort of angled base for the router and you can go to town.

Last option is what Brad aka MrUnix proposes, don’t worry about matching the angle, just cut the slots perpendicular to the face of the uprights, easy to do with a router, drill & jigsaw & cleanup, drill & cleanup. Simple and functional, keeps the main lines of the design. I’d strongly suggest going the “shop shelf” path on this, because you may find that you hate the result.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

View tomsteve's profile


392 posts in 637 days

#5 posted 10-28-2015 08:37 PM

think ya got some good suggestions there. just wanted to say my initial thought lookin at the picture was ,”why did someone put flooring on a wall? did they glue tne plants on???”

View Hopefulbeginner's profile


2 posts in 359 days

#6 posted 10-28-2015 09:26 PM

Thank you all for your suggestions!

I thought initially the angle of the slots was necessary to hole the overall shape of the piece. Now I think you may be right that it might not be imperative. I am going to do some tests over the weekend. Thank you everyone again for your great suggestions!

All the best,

Hopeful beginner

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