Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Simple Homemade Country Shelves

  My son and I built this set of country-style shelves for my wife one Christmas. It took us an afternoon to build it and a couple of days to stain and varnish it leaving time for the varnish to dry between coats. You don't need more than simple tools and a few basic carpentry skills.  Here are the tools you need:
  1. Circular Saw
  2. Saber Saw with furniture quality blade
  3. Drill
  4. Philips driver bit
  5. #6 pilot bit
  6. 1/8 inch drill bit
  7. 1/2 inch drill bit
  8. Tape measure
  9. Nail set
  10. Compass
  11. Router
  12. 1/4 inch quarter round router bit
Here are the materials you'll need:
  1. One 12 foot long 1x12
  2. Three 8 foot 1x12s
  3. One 8 foot 1x6
  4. Box of 1-1/4 inch #6 Philips screws
  5. Ten six inch 1x2s
  6. Glue
  7. Box 2 inch finish nails
  8. Wood filler
  9. Putty knife
  10. Multiple grades of sandpaper
Build the sides first.  Cut the 12 foot long 1x12 in half. Use the compass to round the top of each side. I put a heart shaped cutout and a little dip in the top of the arc as shown in the picture to the right. To cut the cutout, draw the shape you want. I used a heart shape, but you can use any shape you like. Drill a half inch hole inside the area you marked for your cutout shape. Slip the blade of the saber saw through the hole and cut out the shape.  Go around the outside edges of the sides and the inside edges of the cutout with the router. Then sand the faces and edges of the sides and the inside edges of the cutout.

Center the 1x2 shelf rests as shown.

Shelf Rests
Screw a series of 1x2x6 inch long boards to ask as shelf rests. This makes for a much sturdier shelf than simply screwing the ends into the sides.  Set the first pair on the inside of the side boards so they are centered with the bottoms resting on the floor. Drill a #6 pilot hole, but don't go through the sides - just enough into the side boards so the screws will grab.  Glue the shelf rests and screw them to the sides. Put the top of the next pair 18 inches above the first pair. Then, set the third, fourth and fifth pair 12 inches apart. Test fit shelves to make sure they are all level as shown in the picture of the shelf  face below.

Cut the shelves the length you want them. I made these 3-1/2 feet long. You can adjust the length, but if they are over 3-1/2 feet long you'll want to add more stiffeners behind the other shelves if you do (see below).
Set the shelves on top of the shelf rests. Apply glue to the top of the shelf rests and ends of the shelves. You can use bungee cords to hold the sides against the shelf while you fasten them in place. Tap finish nails into the shelf rests to hold them in place. Drill 1/8 inch pilot holes through the sides into the ends of the shelves. It will look like the picture to the right underneath each shelf.  Spread wood filler into the nail holes, level with the putty knife and let it dry.  Then sand the nail hole filler the shelves and all the flat surfaces and edges.  After the glue sets, lay the shelf on its back and route the top and bottom of the front sides of each shelf. Sand everything smooth.


Attach the stiffener to the back of the bottom shelf
Cut the 1x6 into two pieces matching the length of the shelves. Round the top edges with the router and nail one to the back of the bottom shelf as shown in the photo on the right and one to the back of the top row as shown below. Add a screw to each in the center into the edge of the back of the sideboard.


Note the position of the top stiffener board.
Use a wiping oil stain and good quality polyurethane varnish.  Do three to 5 coats of varnish. Allow each coat to cure for at least 4 hours and sand with fine sandpaper or steel wool between coats. 

You can use this anything anywhere. It's cute and even if it comes out a little rough, the oil stain gives it a rustic look that adds to the charm of the piece. My wife loves that little shelf, as much because my son and I built it.

© 2018 by Tom King

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