Weekend Project – Shelves with Style

Wednesday 11 July 2018

I'm on a 'clear out trip' trying to use up offcuts as the Pocket Workshop just doesn't have enough room to store big bits of anything and rather than torching all the waste board, I would rather make something fun like this set of shelves. There are one or two things that need attention in order to make this project work but it isn't difficult to make.


This is meant to not be straight and square so the shape is laid out strictly by hand creating overlapping pencilled arcs with a twist of the wrist. A large diameter dowel will be used to hold the shelves together so I have marked those positions but I did change it later when I decided that I wanted to have the middle shelf flipped the other way round.


The first shelf is cut on the bandsaw, on the pencil line, taking great care to create smooth, flowing curves.


My favourite 'sanding bat' is used to smooth the outside curves working repeatedly around the curve until it is even, but also very square across on the edge.


4The inner curves are harder to keep nice and crisp in profile but luckily we now have a Triton oscillating spindle sander in the Pocket Workshop and it creates flowing internal curves quickly.


5The other two shelves are marked off the first one, laying out nicely on another waste piece of board.


In order to get exact copies of the first shelf the other two are routed using a top bearing-guided template cutter. Double-sided tape is used to fix the blank to the original.

STEP 7 The template shelf is on top and the pack is then sat on Bench Cookies so the cutter cannot mark the bench surface beneath.


The three identical shelves are now ready for marking and drilling to take the large diameter dowel. Finding ready made dowel that exactly matches a cutter size isn't going to happen so a quick check shows that I have a 32mm diameter cutter which is close enough. These digital callipers from 'iGaging' are so easy to zero and give a precise readout that is very easy to understand; this set is sold by Intelligent Workshop.


As a result of the design change swapping the middle shelf around, I re-marked the dowel holes so they are in exactly the same position at each end.


You can use a flat bit and freehand drill but a small pillar drill makes a much more accurate job of it and has a small footprint in a small workshop – you can see that the guard is raised here for clarity.


The dowels are identically marked and the shelves slide into position. The dowels are a loose fit but we will deal with that later.


Firstly, some tiny oval nails are used to pin the shelves in marked positions. Then slips of veneer with glue applied are pushed into the gaps around the dowels. A new knife blade is used to trim off excess veneer and the glue wiped away. Leave the shelves flat, check for square and leave to set. Paint the shelves in a suitable colour scheme and use a couple of small mirror plates to hold it in position on the wall with wall plugs and screws.