Picture frame shelves pt.II

My wife wanted some picture frame shelves for the hallway and staircase to break up the large wall surfaces. I was not hard to ask, and decided to do different styles to mix things up a little.

Both Astrid and I are fans of Lisa Aisato‘s artwork. I bought the 2023 calendar for her as a present, and we want to display some of the artworks in the calendar. In addition, we have pictures and other pieces we want to display on the walls to make the hallway and staircase look nicer and more “homey”.

I made some nice picture frame shelves a few years ago, but decided to mix things up a bit this time. Here’s the ones I made back then:

(You can click on the images to expand them)

That design is very good – easy to make and requires very little wood. But too many of the same design are boring, so I came up with an additional idea.

Floating slanted groove shelf

The first design is a “floating shelf” with a slope on the top. A groove for the picture frame is routed into the shelf, and it is secured to the wall with screws hidden behind the picture frame.

I got a small piece out of the stack of wood and cut two boards which I then squared and dimensioned with my No.7 and No.4 hand planes to 6S (six square: all 6 faces square to the adjoining faces).

I wanted a stopped groove, so I brought out the router table. A rounded groove bit was selected and I made marks 2cm in from each end of the planks. I also marked the fence using pieces of tape so that the groove would stop 4cm from the ends.

Taking two passes – it is not a good idea to take too much per pass – I carefully dropped the plank over the bit while moving the plank sideways so that the bit could cut a path into the wood in a controlled manner. I then moved the plank from side to side until the marks lined up. As evident from the following image, I should’ve used a secondary fence or featherboards so that the planks couldn’t move away from the fence – which they did. But that is okay, because I am going to open up the slot a bit at the rear anyway.

And this image serves as a perfect example why I don’t like using power tools. A slight error, and a big chunk of wood goes from part to firewood in a split second. Of course, the more experience one gets the less chance for catastrophe. But never nil…

I then taped two strips of wood to the planks to make them wider on one end:

By running the planks against the band saw fence like the image below, I cut a nice slope. I moved the fence so that I would get a flat spot at the rear.

This worked out well, and I cleaned up the cut with the hand planes afterwards. Swiffa-swoffa and boom! – baby butt smoothness!

To secure the shelf to the wall, I wanted hidden screws. The simplest approach was to drill countersunk holes in the groove. That way, the screws will be hidden when we put a frame on the shelf. Simple and effective.

I clamped two pieces of gash to the drill press table so that the planks were tilted enough for the drill bit to clear the front edge of the groove. First I drilled with a drill bit the same size as the screw heads, then a smaller bit matching the outer diameter of the screws. I want the screw threads to “bite” into the wall and not the shelf. This will ensure a flush mounting.

Lastly I secured my hand plane in the vise and ran the edges of the planks over the plane to remove the sharp corners. After a bit of sanding and tidying up, I finished the shelves with two coats Osmo TopOil natural which has a bit of white pigment in it – it keeps the light color of the oak.

More images of the shelves can be seen in the last page of the article. For now, let’s make more shelves in a different style!

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