Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Wood Wall Shelves


Ever since moving to Arizona, my mother has been asking me to build her some shelves for some of her art pieces.  One day I printed numerous styles of shelving and brought them to her to see what she wanted and she chose the shelves displayed above and below.


While at her house I measured the height and width of her tallest and widest pieces and made plans for 2 shelves in Google SketchUp.




With my plans set, I went out and bought the wood needed.


Then I measured and cut all the pieces for the 2 shelves.



Next I measured and drew a line from the center of the board to the bottom and cut out a curve with my jig saw.


Using the cut piece as a template, I cut the other side with the same curve and sanded the edge with my belt sander.


Then I used that one board as a template on 3 other boards.


Before long I had 4 boards with the same curve.  I will use 2 boards each to make the main vertical center for each shelf.


Next I measured and marked the positions for the shelves.  One side of each unit will have one shelf in the middle....


...and the other side of each unit will have 2 smaller shelves.


With my measurements and markings complete, I cut each piece.


Next I laid out the position for each piece of the main vertical pieces, using pieces of wood to mark where the shelves will go.  In the image below there is a small piece of wood sticking (spacer) out of the center - this is where the one shelf will go.  And above there are 2 shelves sticking upwards.  


Happy with how it looks, I added glue to the vertical pieces.


Then I attached the top glued pieces to the bottom piece, keeping the shelves/wood spacer in place.  I then nailed the vertical pieces with my nail gun.


Once the whole piece was glued and nailed, I removed the shelves/spacers.  Looking good!


I repeated the process for the second unit.



Once both units were dry, I tested all the shelves to see how they fit.  I was happy when everything fit in perfectly.


The shelves fit in nicely but there is some uneven spots on both verticals.


I then trimmed the backs, tops and bottoms with my table saw.


The flat surfaces are now even, but the curved surfaces still need some leveling.


First I tried to level the curves using the trimming bit on my router, but unfortunately that bit was too short to level the thickness of each unit.


So instead I used my hand planer to level.


The hand planer did the job well, but the cuts were a little rough and angular.  So I smoothed it out using my belt sander.  First I smoothed them out individually...


...then I clamped both units together and sanded them together.  This made both units the same shape. 


Then I smoothed out all the cut edges with some finer sandpaper and my mouse sander.


With the units now perfectly shaped, I rounded the curved and bottom/top edges with a round-over bit on my router.


Both units are looking great!  Now it's time to tackle the small shelves.


I started with the larger, center shelves.  They fit in perfectly but the tops stick out a few millimeters.


So I trimmed them with my saw table.


Now the height of the shelves match the vertical.


For the smaller shelves I couldn't simply trim them.  Since they are located on the curves of the vertical, I had to trim them at an angle.


Using my protractor I measured the angle...


...then I set that angle on the miter gauge on my saw table and trimmed the pieces.


Since the 2 side shelves are located equally from the center and bottom edges, the miter cut for each shelf was the same.


And shortly afterwards all the shelves were trimmed perfectly.


Next I routed the edges of the larger, center shelves to give them the same rounded edge as the verticals.



I could not use the router for the smaller shelves since they were angled...


...so I simply rounded the angled edges with my mouse sander.


After a while all the shelf edges were nicely rounded.  Now it's time to permanently attach the shelves to the verticals.


To do this I will be using glue and brad nails.


Since the units and shelves are held together with glue and nails in lap joints, the joints will be quite strong.



Even though the joints are pretty strong, I decided to drill holes with countersinks...


...and add screws to make everything stronger.


While everything dried, I started cutting some smaller strips of wood about 3/4" thick.  These will eventually become the wall mounts for the units.


I then cut a 45 degree angle into each piece using my miter saw.


Each one of these pieces will be fitted to the bottom of each shelf.


But before I attach them I drilled 2 holes with countersinks into each piece.


Then I clamped, glued and nailed each mount in place.  I made sure that the back of each mount was flush to the vertical and shelf.


After a short while one unit was done....


...followed by the second unit.  Looking at the unit below, I think these shelves would be pretty good if hung horizontally - but I think they're better vertically.


Once the glue dried I tested the mounts and screwed it into the wall.


The whole unit is flush with the wall and is quite secure.


I threw a few tools on the shelf to see how it looks.  I love the look of these shelves!


Next I took down the shelf and began applying wood filler to fill up drill holes and a few small gaps.


When the filler dried, I sanded.


When sanding was complete I gave the 2 units a good cleaning and then prepped them for staining.


The stain I chose to use is the same I used for my bedroom furniture (Jacobean).  It's a great, dark stain and this will go well with the surroundings at my Mother's house.


Once I wiped the excess stain, I let it dry overnight.


Normally I would start sanding these to fit in with the worn rustic look that I like, but I think I will leave these as is.



After drying I applied some polyurethane.


Once that dried I sanded with very fine sandpaper.


Then I gave them a good cleaning.


Lastly I applied some finishing paste.  It wasn't necessary since I applied polyurethane, but it added a little extra luster.


And I'm done!  All I need to do now is hang it up at my mother's house.



Once the shelves were up my mother wasted no time putting all her Native American figurines and nick-nacks on them.







This was a great project and I am super pleased how well the shelves came out.  I'm happy my mother likes them.


I really really like these shelves.  I think I'll have to make something similar for my home soon!  Thanks for reading!

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