Picture frame shelves pt.II

Fixin’ whoopsies

Sometimes things just do not work out the way we intended, and any good craftsperson should have some tricks up the sleeve to fix whoopsies.

I started out great by using two holdfasts and a piece of gash to clamp the small “lip” on the front edge of the L-shaped shelves while gluing. I made two shelves, so I just used the “tape hinge” trick and placed the pieces on top of each other. A piece of gash acted as a big clamp together with two holdfasts. This worked out great!

Here’s a shot of how the two pieces were clamped while the glue was setting. I don’t keep things in clamps for very long – usually half an hour to an hour is sufficient for non-structural joints.

I then glued and clamped the “back” to those two pieces.

And then things got a bit sour on me. During clamping, sumThingTM happened and the joint has gaps. Not very big ones, but certainly the strength of the joint is compromised. These shelves won’t carry heavy loads, so I don’t think it would really matter as there seems to be plenty of good glue contact despite the gaps.

But to play on the safer side of things, I decided to strengthen the joint with four dowels. I have a pack of lollipop sticks (arts and craft stores are GREAT for woodworkers!!!), and I decided to use those. I clamped a board to the drill press to act as a guide and drilled holes for the dowels, to exact size.

Since the dowels fit like a glove, I needed to create a canal for the excess glue to escape. If not, the dowels won’t bottom out and a hydraulically caused fibre failure would be very likely – i.e. the glue could blow out a weak spot in the wall of the hole.

I put the stick in the vise and sawed a groove along the whole length of the stick.

I then cut the stick into small dowels and whittled the end a bit pointy with my Mora knife – a GREAT tool which I bought at a Dalahäst factory outside Mora, Sweden. Be sure to read the article about that visit!

A small drop of glue in each hole is more than enough. The drop was about the same diameter as the hole. Look how nicely it has sagged down into the hole!

I then inserted the dowels and tapped them home with my hammer. Look at the bead of glue that escaped through that groove I sawed! Perfect!

A flush trim saw and a swipe with a card scraper, and the dowel is nearly invisible.

After the glue dried, I applied Liberon beeswax to these two shelves. After leting the finish dry overnight, I polished the wax with some polishing yarn. This gives the shelves a nice shine and shows the natural oak color. They will be placed on another wall, so it won’t matter if they should become a bit yellow over the years to come.

Images of these shelves on the wall can be seen on the last page.

And so this run of picture frame shelve production is done. The L-shaped shelves is a dead simple design that is easy to make with rather thin pieces of wood – perfect usage of offcuts from when you dimension wood on the band saw, and miscellaneous gash! It does not take much – these shelves are between 5 and 7 millimeters thick. Approximately 3/16” to 5/16”.

They are 6cm (2 3/8”) high and 4cm (1 9/16”) deep and about 60 cm (1′ 11 5/8”, or nearly 2′) long, but you can make them as short or as long as you need. Just remember: it does not matter if the shelf is a wee bit longer than necessary. It can be a design element in and of itself to have some empty shelf space with an image or piece of art near one end. The long lines will draw your attention to the piece of art / picture. This is basic image composition – if I am going to take a picture of a road, I let the road start in a corner and go into the center of the image to draw your eyes towards that spot. That sort of thing.

Enough jabbering – let’s see the pictures. Next page please!

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