fitting the shelves

If you’ve been following along with the shutter stand, now is the time to fit the shelves. In yesterday’s post I went into some detail about beading and practical embellishment, so I’m not going to rehash that here, but I did want to show some progress pics and share the process as to how I fit those fine beaded shelves into what I’ve got so far.

This is the basic idea. You want the shelves to fit securely but after taking the time to make such beautiful shelves you don’t just want to jam them in there.

Paying attention to the space you’re working with is half the fun of designing pieces like this.

I knew that I wanted the shelves to be the full width of the boxes and runners, but I wanted them to extend just a little further to the front and back beyond the framework. In order to do that you need to notch them out to fit around the lip of the shutter frame.

I made the shelves out of two boards 1″ x 8″ x 12″ long. I joined the boards with a tongue and groove and beaded the joint and the front and back edges with a 3/16″ beading plane. Lots of fun shavings for my daughters to play with.

(As an aside, you know you’re raising your kids right when your three year old can tell the difference between types of shavings)

Anyway, after putting the t&g on the boards you’re left with just over 14 1/2″ front to back which is perfect. In order to figure out how deep to notch the board take a quick measurement of the gap between the front rails of the shutters. Subtract that from the width of your shelves (12″ – x) and then divide that by 2 and set your cutting gauge. I set mine to somewhere just shy of 1/4″

You can do the rest without long division.

Measure the distance front to back between the shutter frames (again 12″ here). Set your divider to half of that. Put the shelf together and mark from the joint to the front and to the back.

Now you have your depth and length for the notches you need to make. Using these two measurements, mark and square across the end-grain on all corners. 

I used a dovetail saw to rip these little notches and a carcase saw to crosscut. These cuts are for show so make sure to do first class cuts on the front (notch with a chisel before cutting)

I trimmed them up with a chisel and test fit everything at this point for a welcome sense of accomplishment. I removed the shelves, drilled pilot holes along the edges (one, per board, per end) and fastened the shelves to the carcase with finishing nails.

Remember to leave space for the tongue and groove to do its thing as the wood moves with the seasons. The fit can be snug side to side because the wood doesn’t move much on it’s transverse or tangential faces (end grain or side grain) but it will move significantly along its radial axis (face).

Everything fits. Everything is square. Time to paint this thing and work out a top.


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