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i want to make a 'shelfing unit' that is an upright with slits across for the shelfs (with matching slits) to fit into. Answered

The shelf will have two purposes: one for putting plant pots on and secondly as security against someone breaking in.
I have to keep drilling to the minimum as its rented property so the uprights which are 4 x 1in will be wedged from sill to ceiling with just small (maybe 1in) angle brackets to fasten to wooden sill.
Few questions:
1. How can I get a perfect fit between sill and ceiling? I know I can measure but it isnt even.
2. How to get those slits perfect? Would there be a certain type of jigsaw blade that will make the job easier? 
3. Are there any other measures I can take eg. to stop the wood splitting at the end of the slit.


Away for Christmas but due home tomorrow to get back to working on the units.
I will buy some of the PVA glue you are talking about or at least something similar. (I'm also going to treat myself to a countersinking bit).

I have adapted the design a little, or should I say extend it so that the adjoining window panes have shelves as well without having to do more without the bother of more 'wedged' uprights. When I get home later to my own laptop I will attach the pic.

This part will be a bit trickier. When I attach the pic I'll explain more.

Hope you are having a good Christmas!


Brilliant I love looking through old practical books.

I have already made up 2 units with just screws. I guess I should take them apart and put some wood glue in especially since one of the purposes of these units is to be a deterrent/obstacle to someone trying to break in.

One thing I don't think I got the hang of is what order to put it all together in. What I did was put all the shelves on one upright then attached the other ends of the shelves to the other upright.

I think that maybe it would be easier if I make the 'frame' (the top, bottom and uprights) first and then put the internal shelves in? That way I can have something to apply pressure against. The way I was doing it meant that I have a 'T' shape and trying to screw at the top of the 'T'.

Is there a faster drying/stronger glue than the white PVA woodglue sold everywhere?

I would like to draw a pic of what I mean. Do I use MS Paint? How do I embed it?

I did not mean the 'pierced' version (which I now realise is called dado). What I meant was this: imagine a 1 x 4 that has slits across across its width halfway, ie 2" slits say every 10". This would be the upright. The shelves which are say 8" in length have a slit also halfway across its width in the centre of its length ie 4" from either end.
You take each shelf and slot it on the upright by bringing the slots together perpendicular to each other and drive them home.

Not sure if this makes sense. Would be easier if I could draw it.

BUT, even though this was what I originally wanted I realised that those slots were not going to be easy to cut accurately and therefore decided to make a regular unit which for am amateur is hard enough.
Did you mean your top example is the least secure? Is the bottom example with the brace the most secure?

Great. Thanks for very thorough explanation. Funny, someone told me that I shouldn't be making a hole in the end grain of the shelves. I totally can't go with no pilot hole? Your explanation seems to make the most sense. Am I correct in saying though that the hole in the uprights should allow the screw to just slip right through and this allows the shelf to be 'pulled' to it and this gives a stronger join?
I improvised for a countersink bit..I used a larger bit than the hole and just less than 1/16th inch to allow the screw head to sit in.

Oh and thanks for heads up so I don't seem a dweeb! Although in the UK a dweeb would probably sound like a cartoon character!

What I would do if I were building this is.

1.  Make the frame out of 1 x 4 to fit snuggly in the opening.  Each piece should be cut to fit since it's probably not square.

2. then instead of slits (dados), cut 2 pieces of 1 x 4 to fit inside the frame for the shelf to sit on.  Glue and nail that all together.

3.  Do the same for all of the other shelves.

4.  Cover the joint at the front with a piece of trim.

Unless you are quite lucky dados are difficult even with power tools.  the extra wood makes a stronger frame.

Thanks. Yes decided a frame would be the best option for the reasons you mentioned.

Yes, cutting each piece to fit is a nightmare. I am sure there is a tool/technique for getting the end angles right - something that maybe is made up of two pieces that allows one to slide up and down to fit. I know that would only solve the 'smaller' height but then I guess you could 'eyeball' the 'triangular' space that is left. Aaaah or...you put a piece of cardboard there and trace it off!!

Oh it's so good to have a place where as I air my question I end up finding an answer! Well half an answer as I still need to work out how to slide the two pieces up and down each other. Actually what has probably happened is I have seen this solution to something else, somewhere else and it's just come to mind!

Sorry, been busy and just got notice that I had more replies.

Yes, I have invested in a very reasonably priced 'chop' (mitre) saw. Wow, how did I live without one! Have made one of the units and few more to make over the holidays.

I decided to do a frame after all as realised it was loads easier (although this means getting two uprights to fit tight for each unit!). I do need some basic lessons in screws, corresponding drill bits, what size for the hole in the side pieces, pilot hole or no pilot hole in the ends of the shelves etc. But having said that I have muddled through but would like to do more than just muddle!

I have a massive frustration with Phillips/Posi screws. I have loads of these as freebies so obviously want to use them. I find it hard to know the difference and to know what drill bit to use. My drill even on its slowest is hard to control as a screwdriver but I will dig in the cupboard as I believe there are some cordless tools there which maybe are slower.

I am enjoying my woodwork this time round and want to improve as I go and also by getting my daughter (young adult) to help I hope I am setting her up to do the same for her own home when she moves out. For this reason I want to do it the best each time and see improvement that way also she feels inspired to contribute ideas and help me work it out.

Really enjoy reading your answers, thanks :)

Thank you both very much. I feel much better equiped to tackle the job now.

The drilling diagram was especially helpful.

Can you help me with how to ensure that the uprights are the precise height and 'wedge' in? A flexible tape doesnt feel like it will be accurate. If I cut it longer how can I easily trim off small amounts? I do have a sander I could dig out.