Friday, October 8, 2010

Bookshelf a la Matt Part 2 - Finished!

Today I completed the assembly of the bookshelf. It's been quite a month since my last post on the bookshelf and I won't bore you with the details of my non-woodworking adventures. Let's say that there was some good and some not-so-good. C'est la vie.

Most of what you're reading about occurred over 4 weeks, so I'll ask your pardon if I gloss over some details. If there's anything you'd like to hear more detail on, please let me know by leaving a comment and I'll elaborate in a future post.

My next step was to route the stopped dados for the bottom and middle shelf. I set up an edge guide for my router by gluing a 2x2 to a piece of 1/4" plywood followed by a pass with the router to create a clean edge exactly the right distance from the 2x2. Because I was using a 3/8" bit, I had no worries about starting to wander away from the edge guide. For a 3/4" dado, there was plenty of wiggle room. Once again, yours truly forgot his camera, so no pictures of the process. I set the 2 sides beside each other back to back so that I could cut the entire dado and be in perfect alignment on both sides. Except that on the bottom piece, I routed all the way through to the front. So much for the stopped dado.

I did get it right on the middle and that was the critical one as I planned on having the shelf stop about a 1/2" shy of the front which is a bit of a design change from my sketchup pic in Part 1.

Milling Completed

Cutting the rabbets
A few days later, I took the boards that would make up the ship-lap back and cut them to their appropriate width of 4". From there, I used a 3/8" rabbet bit with my home made router table (which I had almost thrown out, but decided to wait - incidentally, it works great being clamped down to my workbench) to cut rabbets on opposing faces.
All cuts completed
Finally, I used a chamfer bit to add a bit of softness to the corners so that the gaps between the boards would look more natural. I guess in the summer when the boards swell, the gaps may close, but in the winter, it gets dreadfully dry around here and I expect that the gaps may widen to about 1/16". Or so says my Woodshop Widget app. Dialing in the router to cut the rabbets exactly .25" deep was fun. I don't have a router lift, so I would make a test cut, check, adjust, repeat and after about a dozen attempts, I deemed it close enough. The chamfers were much easier to set up. Not bad for 1 nights work.

Knot stabilization

The next time I got out to the shop, I routed the rabbet around the inside of the sides, top and bottom - again on the router table - it's just easier than trying to balance the router on a 3/4" thick edge. I found that using green tape on the top side of the board to mark where to stop and start cuts on the side pieces invaluable. The rest of my time was spent sanding everything to 180 grit and I ended my day in the shop by doing some knot stabilization using epoxy. This is part of the joy of working with off-cuts from the lumber yard, but I think that knots give the wood some character and the grain some life. Sure it's a pain to hand plane, but I think the end result is worth it. Just mask off the areas around where you need to apply the epoxy (and tape the bottom of the knot if it goes all the way through) and apply. I had to go over some of the areas twice as the epoxy had settled into the deep recesses of the knot and left a hole in the surface. The first application sealed the knot however and it didn't happen a second time.

A few days later, I assembled the outer shell of the bookshelf using epoxy as my glue of choice. I would have used wood glue, but I had to use bricks as my downward pressure on the assembly because I had only 2 pipe clamps that were long enough. Well, I would have used the wood glue on the dovetail joint in the top because dados all have end grain at leas on 1 of the mating surfaces throughout the joint. Because of the weight that the shelf would have to hold, I decided that epoxy was just a better choice.
All that was left was applying finish, inserting the middle shelf and attaching the back. It was the Home Stretch!

Nice figure! Applying sealing coat
 The boards were all of varying shades and just putting a coat of shellac on it just wouldn't do. I didn't want to just cover it up, I wanted the grain to remain visible. So taking a method I picked up from Charles Neil during the last guild build, I applied a single coat of shellac cut to 1 lb and then followed up with either 1 or 2 (depending on the piece that was having the stain applied to it) coats of water based stain wiping off after 3-5 minutes of sitting with the stain on. Finally, I applied 2 coats of the same 1 lb cut of shellac (The Woodshop Widget rides again!). I of course sanded with 600 grit after every coat of finish except the last where I used 800 grit.

Today I attached the middle shelf again using epoxy before I started my regular day job and let it set over the course of the day. This evening, I fastened the ship-lap backing using my pass-lode cordless nailer using my pull saw's blade (the back edge) as a spacer (I would hazard a guess at 3/64" thickness). I then brought it in, and introduced my daughter to it.

I can't say for sure, but she seemed pleased and that is all a father can ask for.

It's more than enough.


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