The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Mission Style Oak Shelves

I do not have a place to store my wood padlocks or mechanical models. I found a neat looking Mission style Music Stand design in the 1909-12 book for Popular Mechanics. 





The shelves are only 15 inches wide on this music stand. I decided to stretch the design and make the shelves 32 inches wide.  I put this design into Google Sketchup.......


Wood Selection

I decided to use red oak for my project.

Pattern for 4 Main Legs

Google Sketchup lets you print out full-scale paper patterns.  I printed out the lower section of one of the 4 legs (the upper section is just tapered so you can use a ruler to lay it out).


I glued the paper pattern onto a piece of 3/16" Luan to make a master pattern. I rough cut the Luan, then drum sanded to the line for the final pattern. Since my drum sander will not fit into the small points at the bottom of the legs, the scroll saw was used to make these cuts very carefully (both on the master pattern and on the legs themselves).

The next step was to cut the mortise's on the drill press using the square chisel mortising attachment. I used the 1/4" square chisel size and made them about 1 inch deep to accept the 3/4" long tenons. Here is the AMT mortising attachment I probably bought 25 years ago.......

And here is the mortising attachment being used on this project.........


I used the tenon attachment for the table saw to cut the tenons.  I chose to make multiple passes using a single blade, versus taking all the time to set up a dado blade for 1-pass the time to remove the dado blade when done.

Here is a picture of the Rockler tenoning jig type that I bought a couple years ago..............



And here is my tenoning jig being used on this project........



Here are the two ends partially built........still have to make the vertical 1.5" wide slats.  I made an error and the horizontal stiles are 1/2" short versus the plan, but I decided to keep this size to prevent the time of remaking 4 horizontal stiles.  Ooops, I am human and do make mistakes :)



I decided to use Spanish Oak stain for this project.  I recently bought a 1-quart can because I am doing several projects...and a quart is not that much more expensive than a pint can!


Red oak is a very pretty wood when you apply the stain to it

Wood Grain Filler

I wiped on Behlen's wood grain filler using my finger, then after 10 minutes wiped it off using the Behlen plastic knife.  I did not mix up the wood filler...I just poured off the liquid that had risen to the top, used the thick filler........then when done poured the solvent back into the can.

After drying over-night, I wiped off the rest of the wood filler using a burlap piece I got from McMaster-Carr a while back:

After letting it dry some more, I then re-stained the end pieces that I had applied the wood filler to. I only applied the wood filler to the outside faces and the side edges. I did not apply it to the insides of the end pieces, since they will be inside the shelf assembly.


Making the Shelves and Top

 I have had trouble with the boards slipping against each other when I tried to use the Kreg pocket screws on another project with red oak.  I decided not to use the Kreg pocket screws and simply glue-up pieces to make the shelves.  Here they are glued and clamped up:

Thank goodness I have a lot of clamps!!  There are 5 glued up pieces (one top and 4 lower shelves).

After the glue dried, I sawed the 5 pieces to their final thicknesses on the table saw. I also used the table saw to cut them to their final 29.5 inch wide widths.

The 2 smallest width pieces fit in my 12 inch capacity planer, so I slightly planed them to take out any mis-alignment on the glued up pieces.

On the 3 pieces that would not fit into my 12 inch planer, I first marked the glue joints with my pencil, trying to mark the piece that was below the other mating piece. I then used the belt sander with 80 grit to smooth them flat.

I then sanded all 5 pieces with the orbital sander using 220 grit.  Below are all of the pieces after I stained the 5 pieces.  I will put Behlen's grain filler on the tops of the 5 pieces to give a super-smooth finish next.



Final Assembly

I decided to use my big black plastic squares to hold the sides vertical while I attached the chair rail braces to the top.  I used masking tape to mark the location of the 2 sides with respect to the top.  I assembled the shelf unit upside-down:




 As you can see in the photo above, I used Rockler table top steel fasteners to attach the top to the two vertical sides. This allows the top to expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes over time.



Kreg Pocket Screws 

I used Kreg pocket screws to attach the shelves to the two sides.......



I forgot to take a picture of how I held the shelves in place while I screwed them to the two sides.  I clamped a board on each side temporarily, then rested the shelf on these 2 boards.  I put on masking tape to mark the center position, and 4 pieces of masking tape to mark where I wanted to drill the Kreg pocket screw holes. This method worked well.

The Completed Project






Concluding Thoughts

I did not use Kreg pocket screws to make the wide boards for the top and 4 shelves. I had trouble with the pieces slipping against each other when the screws tightened up, even when I first clamped them in place.  I used glue-only to make the 5 shelf boards.

After I stained the shelves, many of them had planer snipe marks on the ends. These are time consuming to belt sand out.  At the beginning of final assembly, I found I made the top and the 4 shelves the same length of 29.5 inches.  I should have made the top 34.5 inches long.

I did not want to make another top piece that was longer. I decided to leave the top at 29.5 inches long, and cut the shelves back from 29.5 to 24.5 inches.  I lost a little shelf space, but I sawed off the snipe marks as well.  If I make any more of these shelves, I should......  1) make sure the top is longer than the side pieces..... 2) made the pieces about 2.5 inches long and saw them to size after planning to remove any snipe marks.

Someone suggested to me that you do not have to mix up the Behlen grain filler can each time you use it. Instead do not mix it.  I tried this by pouring off the liquid on top. I scoop the Behlen's out of the can with my fingers, and it worked ok for the first few scoops. But then it became too dry and just rolled into a string...without sticking to the wood. I poured the liquid back in, added a little more paint thinner and stirred it up.  Then it worked fine.

The music stand plan of circa 1909 scaled nicely to make this an attractive shelving unit.

 Feb 2016 Update

The 2014 shelf worked very well for holding all of my wood mechanical toys and locks.


But I kept more wood toys at work, and had to bring them home when I retired from the office. So, time to build a 2nd shelf unit.

I read over my Lessons Learned from the 1st project, and the 2 big take-aways were:

1. Verify I make the top shelf the full length I want. I messed up on this on the
   1st unit.

2. For the 2 shelves that are smaller than 12" in width and fit my planer, make them
   long so the plane snipe marks can be sawed off.

I am also going to try a different method to join the boards to make each shelf.  It takes me forever to belt sand shelves to get rid of the glue joint mis-alignment. I will try a couple of routed edge techniques, to see if they work better.

Making the curved legs

On the 1st project, I wrote that I scroll sawed these big curved legs.  That takes forever. I decided to band-saw them with a 1/4" blade.  They band-sawed ok, but I had severe wood burn.  I used a combination of 60 grit on the drill press drum sander, the belt sander on the tapered section, and the dremel for the tight geometry. This worked fine and is faster than scroll sawing.

 I kept the old pattern for the curved legs, so it was easy to trace them out again....


Here is some of the band-saw wood burn that I had to sand out......


And here are the 4 curved legs with all the wood burn sanded out..........

Mortising the curved legs

I always have issues keeping the mortise long side straight with my 1/4x1/4 square tool on the drill press.  I decided to try grooving the mortise on the router first, then take it to the drill press.  This really worked slick!!






I made the tenons using the same table saw fixture........


 Here are the 2 ends ready for final sanding and glue-up...........


I had to screw 2 pipe clamps together using a coupling fitting, to get the clamp long enough for the vertical clamping. Make sure you have the 2 horizontal short pieces assembled the right way with for the 5/8" thick 2 vertical styles!  I messed up one of them, and had to dis-assemble, switch orientation, then re-glue and clamp!


Table-Top Steel Fasteners

I forgot to put the groove in the 2 top pieces on the table saw, before I glued up the I put the groove on with the router table after the ends were assembled.

 New Method of Joining Boards

I tried the tongue and groove method. I used a straight bit to cut the tongue (flip the board over on the router table.  I made the tongue 1/2" thick on the 3/4" stock. Then I used my 1/4" slot cutter to trial and error cut the groove to match the tongue. It took a ton of trial & error setting on the slot cutter, to the point, I gave up and only did it for the narrow shelf. I still had to belt sand the glue joints, even with the new method.

What I did learn, was that putting a new 40 grit belt on the belt sander significantly speeded up the sanding of the glue joints, I had a brain fart, and forgot to change belts after many hours of usage.

A couple of ultimate answers to gluing up boards wider than my 12" planer, would be to buy a huge planer, or buy a sander where you can turn the board side to side to sand wider panels. So, I guess I will put up with belt sanding.

Behlen's Grain Filler

I filled the top of each shelf with Behlen grain filler like on the 1st table.  I did have a slight accident with the Behlen grain filler.  The stuff settles out in hours, so you have to put a paint stirrer in the drill press, and at the lowest speed mix it up. On one of the times to do the mixing, I forgot and left the drill on the highest speed, which is where I normally use it.  It threw the quart can out of the drill press, and splattered the grain filler everywhere!!  Good Lesson Learned, is to always check the drill press speed when using Behlens.   No injury to me, which is good news.

Slots for Rockler steel table top fasteners

I forgot to saw in the slots before I assembled the sides, so I put them in on the router table with a 1/4" diameter bit.  This worked fine.

Stay Tuned as I finish this 2nd shelf unit.................

 Shelves drying after 2nd coat of Polyurethane


I tried to get a picture on this 2nd unit of how I used temporary boards to hold the shelves in position until I Kreg pocket screwed them in....

Completed 2nd Unit

Concluding Thoughts on 2nd Unit

This shelf design is relatively easy to build, except for gluing up all the shelf boards, and then belt sanding the glue joints.

This 1909 design is a stylish design.

Some grandkids are going to have fun playing with all of these toys




Recent Photos