First Project Plans Help (radiator cover)

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Forum topic by bringitonhome posted 12-24-2009 08:23 PM 9610 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View bringitonhome's profile


28 posts in 3103 days

12-24-2009 08:23 PM

I’m making the plans for my first project and I have a few questions. I hope some of you nice folks can help me.
I have some basic knowledge from a year of shop way back in high school, as well as some experience in framing and trim carpentry from remodeling my home. This will be my first foray into making furniture.

I’ve decided to make some radiator covers for the house. Below is a sketchup of my plan.
My questions are as follows:

  1. I’m planning on painting them, so I’m thinking of using solid 3/4 poplar. Is this a good choice?
  2. in the sketchup, each of the corner pieces was drawn with a 3”x3” ‘post’. Obviously I’m not going to use a solid 3×3 post for the real thing. What’s a good technique for this? Is it as simple as joining 4 panels on each side? If I do this, will the seams be noticeable under the paint?
  3. since each of the slats is recessed 1/4” on the rails (is this called a reveal?), I was thinking I’d still use strips of 3/4” thick stock which are longer than the actual span, and cut a 1/2” rabbet on each end, securing the ‘tongue’ to the back of the rail. Does this make sense? Is there a better way to do it?
  4. what’s the best way to join all of these pieces? I don’t own a biscuit joiner, but I will get one considering if this goes well, I have a whole host of other projects i’d like to tackle ;). Again, since none of the joints are edge-to-edge, what is the best way to get a joint that is flush and square/parallel to the edges?

Thanks in advance!

Radiator Cover

4 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4246 days

#1 posted 12-24-2009 08:56 PM

1) Poplar is great if you’re going to paint it.

2)Glue two 2×4’s together, and rip the resulting board down to 3” in width. You now have a 3×3 post. The glue joint should not show under the paint.

3) That seems like a reasonable approach, although 3/4” stock for the slats seems kind of beefy.

4) Traditionally, I think mortise and tenon joints would be called for. For simplicity, though, I like dowel joints. You can buy a nice doweling jig for around $50, and it will frequently come in handy on future projects.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View CaptainSkully's profile


1601 posts in 3586 days

#2 posted 12-25-2009 07:21 PM

First, nice job with the SketchUp model. This still eludes me.

1. Poplar is great for building something that will be painted.

2. Glue up some oversized pieces, then trim it down to 3×3. Make sure your splitter and anti-kickback is installed!

3. Just because the stock is 3/4” thick doesn’t mean you can’t cut thinner strips off of it and let that face front. Your idea of the reveal being the same thickness as the “tongue” that overhangs the back is great if you’re not going to see it, you have the clearance, and you don’t have a lot of tools. Simple, yet effective. Of curse this means the apron/stretcher and slats have to be the same thickness.

4. The “tongue” will give you enough surface area for the slats (providing they’re long enough). You could pocket screw the whole thing together. It’s a cheap, easy, and strong method if you’re not going to see the inside. Make sure you use shims the proper thickness to establish the reveal between the aprons/stretchers and the legs. Biscuit joiners are nice, but they can be tough to squeeze in on small pieces. I used one to make my magazine rack years ago. I used half the biscuit to affix the two parts and cut off the protruding half with a flush-cut saw.

This is a great first project. Good luck and keep us posted.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View bringitonhome's profile


28 posts in 3103 days

#3 posted 12-28-2009 12:54 AM

Thanks for the suggestions.
So I decided to use pocket screws. I’ve seen them used on commercial furniture before but i never occurred to me that it could be done at home with a simple jig. Seems much easier than hand cutting all those mortise & tenons.

Right now, all of the wood is cut (except trimming the 3×3 posts – waiting for the glue to dry overnight) & all of the pocket holes are drilled.

Lessons learned so far:
My table saw requires a separate throat plate for dado cutting, which i couldn’t find at either of my local big box places, so i decided to cut the rabbets with 2 cuts with a regular blade. It went ok – but i didn’t realize until i started cutting that even still, I should have made a zero-clearance plate. There was lots of space in there, so the ‘tongues’ on some of the slats are a bit less than perfect. Hopefully i can hand-correct them with a rsap…

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 3868 days

#4 posted 12-29-2009 09:04 AM

If you go to the Kreg web site they have plans for a lot of basic projects for using pocket screws.
Also depending on your saw, you can make your own table saw inserts. Just use your existing insert for a template. For the dado/zero clearence insert take the one you have made put it in the table, level it up. Then get a piece of wood big enough to go from the front of the saw to the back about 3” wide and 3/4” thick. Then clamp it down covering the insert, with a clamp on the front and back of your saw to hold it down. Then raise your blade or dado set slowly up through the insert. This works for both zero clearence and dado inserts. Some guys just use their fence over the insert to hold it down, I’m just more comfortable with the way I decribed.
Ask 20 woodworkers how to do something you’ll get 20 different ways.

almost forgot, great SketchUp drawing you have that skill figured out, I wish I had. I’m still using pencils

-- Taigert - Milan, IN

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