Building the Actual Shelves.

Building the Actual Shelves.

Part III – construction of the shelves. Part I & II are here. The only thing I  purchased : the 3 pieces of  24″ x 48″ birch plywood for the tops and bottoms. Including the trim, the shelves were to be 10 inches deep except where it  L’d and that depth was 14 inches. First Keith measured the plywood, then cut & mitered the edges. Then he used the table saw to create the edges on the trim pieces where the plywood would set on. After we were sure the pieces would fit together by doing a dry run, simply holding the pieces on the frame, he glued and then used tiny finish nails to attach the plywood to the side trim. He slid them onto the frame, and because the back wall had a very slight curve, had to scribe a bit so the shelf would be tight and flat against the wall. I then got to do the finish work. First I sanded and primed and painted the walls where the old holes were. The I went about first filling in the nail holes and any small gaps in between the trim and plywood.

I will come clean…..I am a bit OCD about finish work. When an actual project is close to completion, meaning the “construction part is completed, to me the detail of the finish is important, and says whether you take pride in the project. I guess I was influenced by my parents and too many episodes of This Old House. I am always eager to get to the decorating part, the get it done stage, but I want it to look finished in the best sense of the word. So, after filling in, I sanded again, applied some more putty, sanded once more, then primed. After this last sand, I found just a few spots I missed, so I used spackling for that rather than painters putty, because it dries fast, and the spots were tin, then lightly sanded, and put a first coat of semi-gloss in the same color as all my interior trim. Sanded lightly and put on another coat of semi-gloss. When dry, lightly sanded, ran a damp cloth over it, and when dry when I run my hand across, it is like glass. I use flexible sanding sponges. We then slid the shelves on, they fit like a glove, and they were rock solid. A little touch up, and they were done. When you take the time to do these few extra steps, the shelves look like thick, solid pieces of wood, the side trim indistinguishable from the top and bottom piece of plywood.

Of course I am tempted always to begin putting things on painted pieces straight away, but I resist. By waiting several days, you give the paint time to cure, so when you have to remove the objects you place on them, they do not stick or lift the paint finish off as well. Like the garden, interior home projects from start to finish always take a bit more time than you think, and they teach patience! Hope you might be inspired to try these shelves yourself. They really are fascinating, fun to do and then see how they seemed suspended in air.


Keith began by toe nailing the lap joints for additional stability .

Checking to see if the cut plywood fits the trim. Keith taped them together first, and it onto the frame to double-check the fit.

We use this Titebond III for lots of projects. It is waterproof, so stains and paints and caulks do not present a problem.

Glueing the boards up, then using brads/small nails for additional holding power.

This is what the shelf looks like. It is about precision as much as possible. Notice the mitered corner.

Bottom shelf, full view.

Trying it on for size.

Side view, showing just a bit of tweaking across the back, as the wall had a slight bow. Nothing a little scribing and sanding can’t fix.

When we sat in the family room for a bite to eat, we moved piggy to the shelf, just for a moment, and “Bingo”…….we liked him there, so the middle shelf would have to be done a bit different to allow Piggy the space he needs. I just love it when this kind of moment happens!

Looks like he will get a makeover now to suit his new station in life! Lookin’ a little smug as well…..

We put him back up after building the second shelf to see if we still liked him there, and also to take measurements for the middle shelf.

With the upper shelf removed, KBJ made the frame for the middle shelf. Although it would wrap around to meet the upper cabinet like the upper and lower ones, it required a smaller depth now.

A closeup of what a shiplap joint looks like. Notice KBJ countersunk the lag screw. Otherwise it would interfere with sliding the shelf on. This was not a concern on the other two shelves.

Double checking for level front and side before tightening the lag screws up.

Tightening the lag screws on the side.

All Level!

Yesterday I shared my process about the finish work. Here you can see the nails and small gaps.

I used painters putty/caulk to fill everything in that required it.

First round for the edges, doing both top and bottom.

After the first sanding. Repeat as many times as needed.

And by doing that, this is the finish you can get. Looks like a solid piece of wood.

a view of the completed edge from above.

All three shelves drying after their last coat of paint, waiting for one last light sanding.

Completed shelves, waiting for some flourish.

As always, projects make more of a mess than I can hardly stand. Everything gets moved around, is in the wrong place, and looks rough! At those moments, I try to focus on the end result. Now I can clean up all the accumulated dust, put away the cans of paints, stain, tools and what have you., and finally decorate the shelves. The view from my family room and the kitchen table will certainly be an improvement. Check back tomorrow, and see if you like what I have done. Have to do it first, then photograph it this afternoon. I will take some photos them from different places in the kitchen. As always, thank you for stopping by. Feel free to ask questions. cheers, charisse


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