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Forum topic by CitySlicker posted 02-16-2014 01:04 AM 3638 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 1561 days

02-16-2014 01:04 AM

Topic tags/keywords: box frame maple

Hey everyone! I’m a total newbie woodworker and am trying to build a kids stuffed animal zoo for my kids room. I designed the plan in sketchup and here is a screenshot.

So that is 1×4 maple and 1×3 maple for the tall side pieces. I have built this (and secured the slats using a kreg pocket hole jig). Now, what I’ve got tips like crazy.. it just doesnt stay in the shape you see there. One size can easily rise and the whole thing just twists no problem.

I should note that is my actual first project ever… and I’d love to learn how to build things, but I’m not off to a very good start :D

Can anyone point me in the right direction? I can add some pictures of my actual piece if you’d like to see too.

If you look at the picture, the motion I am talking about is that it can sway left or right entirely and the thing becomes diagonal to the ground.

10 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2487 days

#1 posted 02-16-2014 01:23 AM

What you describe is called ‘racking’.
It happens because you only have one screw in each corner or at most 2 screws very close together.
You don’t have a cross brace or a backing board to keep it all straight.

in the case of your stand I would use 3 screws in each corner of each rail/stile intersection. Not pocket holed, just straight in from the back side.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View AandCstyle's profile


3052 posts in 2257 days

#2 posted 02-16-2014 02:04 AM

Another option: In addition to Dallas’ suggestion, you could also run diagonals on the sides that are racking to hold them rigid. A rectangle will rack into a parallelogram, but a triangle won’t move at all. That is why Dallas’ suggested 3 screws in each corner. HTH

-- Art

View TheGermanJoiner's profile


847 posts in 1637 days

#3 posted 02-16-2014 03:03 AM

Did you glue everything. Mechanical fasteners (screws) only hold in a small spot. Glue when done right hold in a large area. Unless you need it to be disassembled Glue glue glue

-- Greg - Ferdinand and Son Construction: Do it right the first time. Like us on Facebook

View CitySlicker's profile


4 posts in 1561 days

#4 posted 02-18-2014 10:51 PM

Excellent, thanks guys! That helps so much!

Any tips on how to get the thing totally level? No matter how hard I try, I can’t get the whole thing level without taking off boards and reattaching and repeating forever.

View TerryDowning's profile


1077 posts in 2117 days

#5 posted 02-18-2014 11:04 PM

Oh and to get back to the basics

Make sure all of your cuts are square and pieces that should be the same size are in fact the same size. It doesn’t take much deviation to get things out of whack from the start.

Been there done that, kept wondering why things were racking and not square. Careful inspection and measurement reveals that some pieces are 1/16 inch different or were never square to begin with. We’ve all been there.

-- - Terry

View CitySlicker's profile


4 posts in 1561 days

#6 posted 02-18-2014 11:11 PM

Thanks Terry (my name is also terry, so there you go!).

I’ll double/triple check the cuts. They were made at the lumber yard and I did check them, but I’ll make sure everything is square again.

One thing is I am trying to assemble on my garage floor, which isnt very level at all. Should I be doing something different?

View MrFid's profile


874 posts in 1904 days

#7 posted 02-18-2014 11:13 PM

As for your question of getting it level, make sure that you assemble your table on a level surface. I’m hoping that you haven’t glued your pieces together yet. Glue and screws will solve your racking problem, and if you assemble on a flat, level surface, you should be good in the end. Post your project after it’s completed! Welcome to LJs.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View CitySlicker's profile


4 posts in 1561 days

#8 posted 02-18-2014 11:14 PM

I’ll have to create something level then :D

Will definitely post—thanks for the welcome!

View BurlyBob's profile


5494 posts in 2266 days

#9 posted 02-18-2014 11:50 PM

You might want to change your plan and on the back side replace the 3 horizntal pieces with a single piece of plywood. A piece of 1/4” will add the stability you want with very little weight. Also you can secure it with screws spaced evenly the whole lenght of the 1×4’s. Add a light bead of glue and you’ve built a real cage for your zoo. You could also paint scene on the inside of that back, trees, grass, rocks, or whatever trips your fancy

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2487 days

#10 posted 02-19-2014 12:18 AM

In one corner, measure 4” across the top, 3” along one side. Now, from the 3” mark daigonally to the 4” mark will be 5” if the case is square.
An easier way is to cut some triangle gussets. (They look like a speed square.) tack one into each corner and the case will be square, as long as you have 2 90° angles and a 45°’

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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