Saturday, April 19, 2008

Making Shelves

When last we met, I had put the doors aside to make the shelves. So let's talk about that.

The plan with the shelves was to take a fresh 1/4 sheet of 3/4" MDF & make a template for the shelves. The idea was to take the template for the carcase top & bottom & trace that shape onto the new template stock. The tops & bottoms have a 3/4" wide rabbet cut along the three back edges. So I took a scrap that was long enough & 3/4" wide and lay that with the right edge on the tracing of the shape. I'd then trace along the left edge & that would give me a 3/4" offset. I had to make sure that the resulting shape was actually smaller than the top & bottom or the shelf wouldn't fit in the cabinet.

Now, two of the three front edges are buried in a dado in the face frame. So I repeated the procedure on those edges with the same scrap. Then I pulled out my circular saw & straight edge guide & cut off the two triangular pieces from the rear corner. I used the fence on the table saw to make the other cuts, since those edges were all parallel to the ones opposite them.

Now it was time to make the shelves. The first step was to cut four blanks to an appropriate size from what was left of the third sheet of white oak ply I had on hand. I planned to put a 3/4" wide by 1 1/4" wide solid oak edge on the shelves, so I next cut the edging, then I glued the pieces onto the blanks.

I used biscuits to attach the edging, but in hindsight, I should not have used the biscuits. I ended up with a small misalignment on three of the 4 shelves I made. One of the edge pieces was about 1/32" above the top of the shelf, and the others had spots in the middle that were lower than the top by less than 1/32". If you look closely, you can see a little ledge on these two shelves.

If I had just glued on the edging & let them all be about 1/32" higher than the top of the shelves, I could then have used a flush trim bit in the router table to get everything perfectly flush. Hindsight is 20-20, as they say, but I had to live with what I had.

I traced the template's shape on the blanks. I cut the two triangles off of the first blank. The picture below shows a typical set up for this operation.

I used a pattern bit in my router table to finish the back cuts & make them the same as the template. I then used the table saw to finish the parallel cuts. I installed four shelf pins at the same level in the upper cabinet. I took the shelf over to cabinet & tried to put it on the pins. But it wouldn't fit! I then tried to put the template on the pins, and that wouldn't fit, either. But it fit fine on the bottom of the cabinet. Time to scratch my head for a while.

The only reason I can come up with for this disparity is that the backs of the carcases aren't straight but slightly bowed inward. I'm not sure why this is, as everything was cut straight, but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

OK, I've got to make the shelves smaller. I put some 80 grit sand paper on a sanding block & sanded for a while. While this did make the shelves smaller, it wasn't working fast enough. I could kind of wedge one shelf in one position, but it wouldn't go in at a different height.

After making a couple of attempts at this, what I ended up doing was putting the template in at about the middle of the upper cabinet. The front edges & the right side in the back fit fine, but about 1/16" had to come off the left side in the very back. I marked the rear of the template to show how much had to come off.

Since everything was fine in the front, this had to be a tapered cut. I don't have a taper jig for my table saw, plus this is an odd shaped piece. What I ended up doing was attaching a scrap to one side of the template with double sided tape, with one end even with the front corner and the other even with my mark in the back. I added a second piece to help keep the template level & then I trimmed off the material I needed to remove. The picture below shows the set up for this operation.

I tested the template in the carcase & it fit fine. Perfectly, in fact, and I could put it at any level & it had no trouble fitting at all.

Now I trimmed three of the shelves to the template again & they all fit fine. But I never trimmed the fist shelf I had put in, which would only fit in the one position it occupied. I took the router table apart & put it away & quit for the day. I even went to work the next morning. And I thought about it when I wasn't otherwise occupied.

When I got home, after thinking about it for a day, I realized I needed to trim that shelf, too, since I didn't want a shelf that would only fit in one place in the cabinet. I wanted all of them to be interchangeable. So I set the pattern trim bit back in the router table & attached the template to the shelf with double stick tape. Then I took it to the table & had at it.

Only I didn't get a good bond with the double sided tape & the template moved while I was routing it! I had to stop in the middle & I had a 1/8" deep gouge taken out of one side! Arrrrgh!

While I had plenty of ply left to make another shelf, I had run out of 3/4" stock that was long enough to make the edging, and I really didn't want to go out & buy more at this late date. I didn't think I could cut the edging off of the munged up shelf & glue it on to a new shelf & get the ends aligned properly. Now what to do?

I figured that if I put this shelf in the top of the upper cabinet, you'd never really see the missing material, so I'm just going to use the shelf as is. If it turns out I'm wrong, I can always make a new shelf later.

So I finished trimming the shelf to shape. By adjusting the position of the template on the shelf, I was even able to make the gouge a little smaller & so less noticeable. I just hope I'm right.

The four shelves all fit fine. I then started contemplating finishing, since the only woodworking I had left was to glue up the doors, make the bead moldings for the doors, miter the molding & glue them to the doors.

Next: To Finish the Door Panels or Glue the Doors?

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