The Design

The Design

The shelves at home

The shelves at home

We needed shelves. After looking at the offerings around the local stores I determined that 1) the quality ones were WAY overpriced and, 2) the affordable ones were little more than tarted up cardboard. After discussing the possibilities with my wife, we realized that we could build our own for a reasonable price.

Meanwhile, back at the office, I am constantly working to improve our process and make better use of materials. I was looking through the latest FDM magazine and noticed in an article on a canadian cabinet shop a photo of a joint they were using to build face frames. It was a half-lap puzzle joint that would allow quick assembly of a frame while maintaining squareness.

While designing our shelving unit in SolidWorks, I decided to try the joint to see if it was a viable alternative to our current process. I tried a classic style and  incorporated the joint,  then cut the parts out on our router. The one thing I knew would be a potential problem was the plywood thickness. I chose plywood over solid stock only to see how the system would work. I miked the plywood and  made some adjustments in the  model before running the toolpath.

The parts came off the router extremely clean, and after edgebanding the lot, it was time for assembly of the side frames. All the parts fit perfectly within the puzzle joint, but the varying thickness of t he plywood made for a few uneven joints. Knowing we would stain the final product, sanding through the finish veneer to even them up wouldn’t detract too much from the final look.

Once the frames were cured, we attached the shelves using a tab and slot joint. If I had  made them by hand, I would call them mortice and tenon, but since  the router did the work, I won’t take the credit. After a few coats of finish, the shelves arrived at home to the delight of my wife and me. As it turned out we had our son about a week after they were filled with books, so the timing was pretty critical.

Thanks to Scott for allowing us  to use the shop, to Shane for staying late one night to help with the router, and mostly to my wife for her hard work during too many long days in her delicate condition.

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