Wall Shelf Workings

On Friday and immediately after taking those photos for the latest Workshop Tour, I began sorting through my offcuts of 1in English oak. This stuff was left over from a dining table I made about a year ago, for which I had to buy a load of new boards for the top at the last-minute, which had left me with this pile until recently:

I need to start working through my offcuts in order to clear some space in the workshop. However, the only item I really ‘need‘ at the minute is a general storage shelf; the depth of which should allow me to make use of the narrow widths available…

My initial design after some work in SketchUp called for something like this, with a graduation in shelf size from the depth of the top (250mm) down to the bottom shelf (300mm):

That one the right was inspired by a design for Sapperton Shelves that I found via. a Google Image search. Unfortunately, thanks to a few splits and a couple of nasty knots, it turns out that I don’t have enough oak to make something 300mm wide so, I’ve scaled it down to 230mm deep which more of a clean and simple design (as much of the Arts & Crafts/’Craftsman’ furniture was, initially):

Dimensions: 900mm L x 500mm T x 230mm D

Fortunately, I was able to find enough oak to join each width cleanly with two boards.

Well, okay – almost!

But for a strip of contrasting brown oak down the ‘centre‘ of each shelf… This is partly out of necessity; again, due to a slight lack of good wood. I’m hoping it will add a bit of interest although, there’s also the risk that it’ll look as if it’s just been glued in to fill up a gap or make up a larger width… That’s why I’ve graduated the size of these – starting at 12mm wide on the top; 18mm in the middle and 24mm in the bottom shelf. Also, you may not be able to see this but, I have offset the centre line of all the joints by 5-10mm (depending on whether it’s one of the sides or a shelf). I’ve tried this in the past and, as strange is it may seem, I think it does make a slight difference… I hate centrelines, unless you have enough material to beautifully book-match two leaves deep-sawn from a thicker board.

You’ll also note the through-wedged tenons, and the 50mm overhang left above and below the top and bottom shelves (again, both common features in this style). I want to have another go at doing through-wedged tenons after making that wall cabinet at college, a couple of months back. I won’t bother with any fancy shaping as I would like to preserve the height between the shelves.

[Sorry – I know I haven’t drawn the joint-details in correctly. I rarely do this with SketchUp drawings now, as I mainly using this program to establish a design, rather than the constructional elements, which does take time.]

Before I end this post, I’d like to share with you a bit of a surprise I found with one of my oak boards…

As far as you can tell, this one looks pretty good, right?

It’s clean, aside from one or two knots and, there appears to be very little sap.

Now, turn that same board over…

…And look at all that vulnerable sapwood!!

Any wood-boring insect would love to sink its teeth in to that and I dread to think of what could happen if they were to then find their way to the softwood used to construct our house!

Not to mention the fact that the pale sapwood won’t take a finish like the durable heartwood and it certainly would stand out by a country mile…

I did manage to sneak a shelf side out of it though, before binning a good 50% of the pale stuff left on the offcut. 😛

That’s about all I have to say on this, for now. Currently, the oak has been roughed out and will sit indoors for at least a week until I can start machining and gluing up. It’s really difficult to gauge the moisture content without a meter… My hand tells me it feels a little ‘damp’ (it has been stood up unconventionally in an unheated garage, for a year now). However, it could just be cold! 🙂 The brown oak I’ve cut felt very dry – but then, that’s spent the last twelve-months or so stacked carefully on a wall rack, with spacers in between each layer.

I apologise if anyone’s still waiting for an update on the back door. To be honest, the weather’s been rather unpleasant lately and it hasn’t allowed me a chance to put the final coats of paint on (despite the fact that it’s been hung and in-situ for a couple of weeks, now). I might see if I can rustle something else up, in the mean time.

Hope you all like the new header! 😉

Thanks for reading.

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