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First serious project: corner shelf, open sides and back

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Forum topic by flybyya23 posted 01-02-2013 10:39 AM 1131 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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flybyya23

5 posts in 718 days


01-02-2013 10:39 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question joining

I am just starting this project and have created a rough sketch. I wanted to get some feedback as to where I might run into strength issues, what kind of joints work best, etc. For the 3 corners of the project, I’ve used 3 different strategies (a double 1×4 in the back corner, where I would use some sort of locking miter or simple miter/biscuits; a single 2×2 on the left corner where I would use something like a dado; a single 1×4, dado). I started with 3/4×12 sides but determined I wanted the sides to be open: this will go on top of a corner desk.

I appreciate immensely any guidance you have!

Thanks in advance


11 replies so far

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huff

2810 posts in 2032 days


#1 posted 01-02-2013 09:35 PM

I’d like to ask a few questions to start with, them we can probably give you some suggestions on different options for building your project.
1. what are the overall dimensions? It’s going on top of a desk, so I’m quessing it’s something like 48” tall and you said the sides where going to be 12” wide?

2. What are you using for materials? Shelves; Plywood? Frame work; solid wood? Do you plan on staining and clear coat or will you be painting it.

3. Reason for no back. Is it to just have a more open look and easier access to the wall or just to save on material cost?

4. Tools you have and woodworking experience you have.

There’s a lot of different ways to build this corner unit, but no need to suggest certain techniques if you don’t have the tools to accomplish it.

I’m sure there are a lot of talented woodworkers on the site that can help, but some more information will help us all.
Thanks.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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flybyya23

5 posts in 718 days


#2 posted 01-02-2013 11:01 PM

Thanks for the response and added questions: no problem filling in the blanks!

1. what are the overall dimensions? It’s going on top of a desk, so I’m quessing it’s something like 48” tall and you said the sides where going to be 12” wide?

Correct: about 48” tall; the long sides (the wall sides) are about 24-30” and the short sides around 12”, leaving a diagonal of about 20-25”. The desk in that dimension is 30” wide, so 30” is ideal edge-to-edge if I can support it.

2. What are you using for materials? Shelves; Plywood? Frame work; solid wood? Do you plan on staining and clear coat or will you be painting it.

My thoughts (open for suggestions)
- Shelves: 3/4” plywood (probably oak)
- Frame: solid oak (originally thinking plywood when the sides were closed, but doesn’t make sense since I opened it up)
- Stain/clearcoat

3. Reason for no back. Is it to just have a more open look and easier access to the wall or just to save on material cost?

The reason I wanted no back is because the desk is in my basement which has a build-in shelf at 45” above the floor: that is also why you see the middle shelf not in the middle :). I have books on those built-in shelves and want to add this shelf space and still use the existing space. Off the top of my head, this is probably going to cause a left/right strength issue?

An aside: since I won’t live there forever or change my mind someday, it’d be great if I can move that middle shelf around, but I haven’t thought about it too much yet; more into getting going and if it’s not adjustable, so be it (I’d rather have my project be done and not adjustable than no project at all!).

4. Tools you have and woodworking experience you have.

- jointer (old Grizzly I picked up off Craigslist)
- table saw (Dewalt DW744)
- scroll/band saw (big bench unit but not fancy)
- drill press (more for imprecise metal-working: in the market for one for precision work)
- router/router table: table is just a simple craftsmen bench table, router is a Dewalt
- compound miter saw: Dewalt DW716
- hand tools: most of the basic stuff (combo square, clamps, sliding bevel, etc)

Experience: I’ve built a few projects with mostly butt joints, a few miters, and screws, most recently a wood box with a slanted hinged lid made out of cedar boards.

Thanks again, Dave

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huff

2810 posts in 2032 days


#3 posted 01-03-2013 01:03 AM

Dave,

Thanks for the information.

The Materials sounds like a good choice. Definitely use the hardwood for the frame work.

Here’s a couple ideas; see what you think.

1. I would treat the solid wood frame work like it was a face frame for a typical cabinet and what I mean by that is; I would build the front frame as a unit and each side frames as individual units. Size? I would probably go with maybe 1 1/2” wide for both the stiles (vertical pieces) and rails (horizontal pieces). Cut all your stiles to the same length ( 48” or whatever you decide for height) and cut top and bottom rails for the front section and for each side section. ( Don’t cut one for the middle shelf if you want to make that one adjustable).

2. As far as fastening the face frames together, I would probably just do a butt joint, glue and clamp. ( make sure the rails are placed where you want them and that the frame is square when clamped).

3. Once it’s dry and off the clamps, you could set up and daddo for the top and bottom shelfs. Actually it would be a 3/4” daddo across the stiles and a rabbit along the top edge of the rail. (that way when your top and bottom shelf is in place they will be flush with the top of your rails).

4. Once you have the daddo cut for both the front and side frames then you can rip the outside edge of the front frame and the front of the side frames @ 22 1/2 degrees. (that way, when joined together it will make your 45). Glue and clamp the three frames together to make one face frame for your shelves. You will need to make some clamping cogs so you can clamp the two angled cuts together to get a good tight fit. Once they come off the clamps, you can sand the miter edges. Your daddo on the back side of your face frame should be lined up all the way around the three pieces at both the bottom and top.

5. Now you should be able to lay out the exact size for your top and bottom shelf so they fit into the daddo and the rabbit along the top of the front rails. Your shelf should be flush with the back of your side frames. Your other dimension along the wall can be whatever length you want as long as both sides are the same.
I would probably cut about a 4” flat spot on the back corner of each shelf so I could make a back stile to support the back of the shelves. If you rip both sides of a 4” wide stile @ 45 degrees then you can fasten it flat to the back of the shelves. I probably would not worry about daddoing that because you could glue and screw from the back side.

6. Once your shelves are cut to size and sanded, glue your face frame to the top and bottom shelf. It’s pretty easy to hide a nail hole in oak, so if you wanted to you could nail thru the face frame into the shelf. When it’s all glued and clamped together it will be plenty strong. Fasten your back stile in place (glue and screw)

7. If you want your middle shelf to be adjustable, you can lay out and drill 5mm or 1/4” holes in the back of the face frames and on the back stile and use regular shelf pins. Your middle shelf would sit behind the face frame instead of being daddoed in. You could edge the shelf with 1 1/2” wide stock that would fit between the stiles of the front face frame and also between the stile of the side frames to give the same appearance as the top and bottom shelves when looking at it.

8. Since you’re not using a back, for added stability, you could run a 2” stringer under the top and bottom shelf along the back edge of the shelf between the back stile and side face frame.

Like I said before, there are a number of ways to build it, this is just some ideas or at least “food for thought”

Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1593 posts in 1116 days


#4 posted 01-03-2013 09:13 PM

Dave,
For starters, welcome to the forum, all the way from West Endicott.

I would go along a similar general route as huff has suggested, although maybe a bit simpler. I would cut dadoes for the top and bottom shelf. It looks like your picture has 5 legs. If you have a piece of oak you can get all of the legs from, it’d be that much easier. Crosscut the oak to the length of your legs. Mark the position of your bottom and top shelf, and the position of holes between those shelves for the removable shelf pins for the middle shelf. Carry those marks all the way across your board, and everything will (well, should) line up at the end. Cut your dadoes, rip into 5 legs, and drill the pin holes. Glue and clamp the legs to the top and bottom shelves. For the adjustable plywood shelf, I would add some thin trim on the edges that wont be hidden behind the legs.

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

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huff

2810 posts in 2032 days


#5 posted 01-03-2013 09:33 PM

Dave,

I like Ed’s idea about laying out for the daddo’s. Should be easier and very accurate.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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runswithscissors

1234 posts in 772 days


#6 posted 01-04-2013 04:21 AM

I made a unit similar to this some years ago, consisting of a wide lower unit for a TV and an upper unit to function in the usual shelf sort of way. For the ends (your 12” wide parts), I used 2X2s, joined together with 1/2” dowels to form a kind of ladder. These were spaced to form supports for the shelves. Don’t recall how I did the part that goes into the corner, but looks like you could do the same thing with dowels going to your corner post. It seemed to be reasonably sturdy, and wasn’t hard to take apart when I had to move it. The dowels of course were glued in, but the shelves needed no fastenings at all. I think I had to fasten the end pieces to the wall with little angle clips for stability. You could also fasten the shelves to the dowels with screws driven up through and into, or use the kind of clips for fastening light tubing to a surface, the ones shaped like the Greek letter omega. (That, plus alpha, are the only Greek I know).
Actually, I did a whole wall unit this way one time using the same kind of “ladders,” and even one that went overhead of a wide double French door, with vertical units at either side, all of it integrated into one unit. It’s the sort of thing you have to make up as you go.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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flybyya23

5 posts in 718 days


#7 posted 01-05-2013 02:12 AM

Thanks for all the input so far. I’m adjusting my sketches with your comments, but a few questions while I’m in process (BTW, Ed, howdy from miles away!).

I like the idea of cutting the dadoes also: theoretically can’t get them any more level than that to start! With this concept, would you use a 3/4” thick oak, dado in 3/8”, then use two pieces about 1 1/2” wide for each leg (kind of like the back corner leg in my original sketch and the dad would be hidden)? Or would you use a 1 1/2” thick piece and just use one edge for each leg?

One thing confused me with that idea (forgive me if this is a beginner question reading too much and not doing): I didn’t expect to use a dado for the top shelf but I suppose I was thinking using a rabbet. How would a dado work on the top shelf?

Thanks again everyone!

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huff

2810 posts in 2032 days


#8 posted 01-05-2013 02:36 AM

Dave,

For the front legs I would use two pieces each; 3/4” thick by 1 1/2” wide.

Sorry, just used the wrong term for doing the top shelf. It would actually be a rabbet.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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flybyya23

5 posts in 718 days


#9 posted 01-05-2013 04:47 AM

Here is how I pictured the top coming out: it would actually be a 1/4” rabbet in the top shelf piece of plywood? Is this a difficult cut/route or is there an easier way? I’m trying to avoid just laying it on top and gluing/screwing since this would be a visible top shelf when on the ground. I suppose I could dado it and extend the legs a few inches above the top shelf, which is maybe what you were both thinking with dadoes on top.

Also you’ll see I used 3/4” x 1 1/2” and mitered the corner. (?)

And here’s the bottom shelf: a little more straight forward dado.

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

1593 posts in 1116 days


#10 posted 01-07-2013 02:33 PM

If you choose to go that route, I would cut the rabbet for the top about halfway through the plywood. That would give you decent glue surface, without making the plywood top too thin at the rabbets. To cut the rabbets, I would mark them in pencil, use a router to get the bulk out, then use a chisel to finish the rabbet to the markings.

I guess I misunderstood that you were trying to hide the corners of the shelves, this is what I thought you meant, using my awesome paint skills (showing two top-down shape options):

I would leave the vertical pieces extending above the top and miter the four sides of the leg top for aesthetics, plus more long-grain glue surface. There would be two dadoes on each leg for the top and bottom, and no rabbets necessary. The plywood shelves would simply be cut to shape, glued into the leg dadoes, and exposed edges then trimmed in hardwood. This would be the simplest and quickest way, I think. If you wanted to miter the corners like you showed, cut the legs as described then rip a 45 degree and glue together. Since woodworking is something personal, that is just how I would do it, but I would advise you to do it your own way and ignore my way :)

P.S. I’m envious of your sketch-up skills.

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

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flybyya23

5 posts in 718 days


#11 posted 01-08-2013 04:43 AM

I like it with the legs extending above … I’m going to make some mods and see what it looks like. I’m no Sketchup expert, just went through a few of the tutorials here (getting started I/II, dadoes, and joints) and then started playing. It has helped me picture the joints really well.

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