Making a shelf out of a single board - my first project in the Techshop woodshop

Picture of Making a shelf out of a single board - my first project in the Techshop woodshop
After I'd taken the basic safety course for the Techshop woodshop in SF, I was ready to knock out some basic projects to get some practice on the tools before trying anything more complicated.  My first project was making this simple shelf out of a 7-foot board.  Making a shelf can be a good first project if you're just getting into working with wood.

In our kitchen we had an overflowing pile of cookbooks and a tiny nook that was just right for a shelf.  I got this large pine board for cheap at MacBeath Hardwoods in Berkeley and set about turning it into a shelf.

Here's how I grade my work in the end:
As a learning experience: A
As a couple's bonding experience putting together the shelf: A+
As a final shelf: B+ (we'll get to that later)

As they say in the world of Instructables written in part to get a free class at Techshop, "I made it at Techshop!" 


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Step 1: Get a board!

Picture of Get a board!
Went to MacBeath Hardwoods in Berkeley and picked out a board.  Just got a simple pine board - looking forward to mucking around with the many amazing kinds of hardwoods they specialize in.  This guy was 7' by 1'.  I wanted to end up with a shelf for cheap so I just got the one board for less than $20.

Step 2: Design your shelf

Picture of Design your shelf
I doodled a bit to figure out how I'd cut the board up and eventually settled on this design.  It was a fun exercise in making sure I used the whole board and didn't have to do any extra cuts.  One thing I would change in hindsight is the beveled edge for the corners.  Not many shelves have a beveled edge when you look at them - turns out that's because it can be a pain to actually assemble.

Anyhow, the dimensions in my doodle ended up being the cuts I made.  Given the size of my board and my design, I ended up with six pieces, with each piece having one identical buddy that matched it.
MikeCicc (author) 2 years ago
*** I meant "Rip those babies in half" metaphorically, like King Solomon.
jbrauer2 years ago
I'm impressed that you used those milled slots (rebates, rabbets, or through dadoes) on your first project. I've done plenty of those, but anymore I usually just use a butt joint, and put a skirt under the back edge of the shelf to keep it from racking.

Glue-ups are generally stressful. For years, I disregarded the advice to dry-fit everything before slathering glue on 100% of both contacting pieces. But after learning the hard way, I dry fit everything now.

Gel stain works really good on woods prone to blotching, like Pine, Maple, and Poplar. Wipe it on, wipe it off, hit it with some spray lacquer, you are good to go.