Monday, September 1, 2008

Cutting Shelf Blanks

OK, we've make all the parts for the frames. Before we can make the raised panels, we have to make the shelves. Time to pull out the second sheet of red oak plywood I bought & cut it up.

I was determined to do these cuts on the table saw. My shop, and the work table I use specifically, has just got too much stuff in it (and on it) right now to make using my saw horses & circular saw convenient. It would take me more time to clean everything off of the work table, set up to cut the sheet, and then put everything back, than it would to just make the cuts on the table saw.

Remembering the difficulty I had cutting the ply partitions, I pull out my roller stands and set them up. I place one about 2 or 3 feet or so behind the outfeed table so it will support the keeper piece, and another one next to it to support the cut off. I placed my sheet of ply on the saw & moved it back so the leading edge touched the rollers. This way, I was able to adjust the rollers parallel to the leading edge of the sheet and set the height so they weren't too high.

Then I measured the width of the shelf in the center section. And I proceeded to set the fence to that setting. Only instead of using the indicator you're supposed to use when the fence is to the right of the blade, for some stupid reason, I used the other indicator! I've never ever done that before. And I went ahead & ripped the sheet. It wasn't until I went to do the rip for the other shelves that I realized I'd messed up.

Luckily, this mistake wasn't hard to recover from. It turns out that the piece I'd just ripped was wide enough for me to get two strips wide enough for the narrower shelves with about 5" or so left over, and the other piece was about 1" or so too wide for the center shelves. I got lucky again (or God's just watching out for this pulpit).

After getting the three strips I needed to the correct width, I had to rotate my saw 90° so I could cross cut the strips into blanks. I pulled out my cross cut sled & went to town cutting the blanks to length. When I was done, I had 4 center shelf blanks & 10 wing shelf blanks.

At this point, I should have just made the edge banding & glued it on to the blanks as my punch list calls for me to do. Instead, I skipped to step 15, "Cut notches in all shelf blanks to fit around posts." This has caused me more heartache than I want to remember. I'm getting ahead of myself, though.

I took my blanks, carefully cut to the correct width & length, and placed them between the upper rails & ply partitions of each box in turn. I carefully marked where the post intersected the blank, then extended those lines. This defined the corners I had to cut off in order to form the notches I needed in the corners.

I then used my band saw to cut these notches. And the blade drifted slightly, only I didn't realize it until too late. I should have used my table saw with a tall aux fence on the stock miter gauge to do these cuts. At least they would have been square.

But that's not the worst of it. Somehow, I ended up screwing up my layout on a number of the blanks. The result is there's too much room around the posts & I didn't get the tight fit I wanted. In most cases, I can just glue a carefully sized piece of hardwood onto the edge to correct the problem. On other shelves, I've too much space cross grain. I'm going to have to glue on a piece cross grain to fix it. And that will definitely be visible.

The problem is that the boxes, for the most part, won't stay square without the fixed shelves. As I was doing the layout, the darn blanks kept moving because I couldn't get them between the posts. I should have only notched the six fixed shelves, very carefully, and held off on the others until after the glue up. The adjustable shelves need to be a little smaller than the fixed shelves so they'll adjust easily, and they would have waited just fine.

Here's a couple of shots of the center box after the shelves were notched & put in, but before the edging was applied. You really can't tell how out of whack the shelf notches are in these shots.

The clamp across the top in these pictures was there just to close up the space between the posts & the top rails. And, lastly, here's a shot of one of the wings with its shelf blanks installed.

Next time: Adventures in Notching Shelves

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