Thursday, April 13, 2017

Office build-along, pt. 12

Here's where my taking six months to router, sand, stain and varnish the lumber for my bookshelves comes back to bite me in the ass. The 2"x12" boards I'm using for the uprights were stored outside that entire time as I worked on them. Now, they were stored under cover out of rain and direct sunlight, and on 2"x4"s to keep them off the concrete, but the changes in humidity and temperature still had an impact. Two of the boards, in particular, showed significant bowing (significant being 3/4" for one and almost 2" for the other). For most of them, this wouldn't be an issue, since shelves on either side of them would force them straight. But these two... one is on the side of the corner cabinet, abutting the house support column with makes that wall irregular, and the other is the end piece closest to my office door. This is problematic, since there's not any shelving on the other side to force it straight. Because of the bowing, the carefully measured and cut shelves don't sit securely in their dado slots. See?

Not pretty. Since I don't want to mar the smooth face of the wood closest to the door, I instead drill holes through the upright paired with the bowed wood. I drill two holes in the two dado slots opposite the greatest extent of the other board's bow.

Then, I drill 1.75" wood screws through the holes into the shelves. This solidly anchors the shelves to the strong upright that is behaving itself. This is important for the next step.

The next step involved slathering an impressive amount of Titebond III wood glue into the dado slot. My choices to secure the shelf to the bowing board consist of screw, nail or glue. Either screwing or nailing from the opposite side would look damn ugly, and I'd be compelled to come up with a matching veneer to cover that with. That would be a major undertaking with disproportionate expense, not to mention taking a long time. So instead I decided on glue, crossing my fingers that the bow in the wood isn't stronger than the glue. To tilt the scales in my favor, I used Titebond III, which is a bit more expensive than the workhorse Titebond II, but is (I've been assured) a significantly more durable bonding agent. Note that I wiped all the oozing, dripping glue away with a damp cloth after this photo was taken.

The Titebond III instructions recommend clamping the glued joint together for 24 hours to allow sufficient drying time. I left them clamped for the better part of a week. Almost a month later, the join is holding steady. So, yay! First problem solved!

The next problem is more annoying. See that gap where the upright doesn't meet the corner cabinet? That's not an illusion created by the upright not being fully in position--the bow really is that bad. You could lose a small child down that gap. Yikes!

Compounding my problems is the structural column for the house protruding about 3" from the wall, creating a kind of vertical step, which isn't pretty, but it's the space I have to work with. I installed the next upright, and there's a 2.25" gap between them. Tiny, weird space. Fortunately, the top of the boards are pretty close to accurately spaced, so I measure the dado grooves and figure I need six narrow shelves not quite 3" wide to fit the gap. Since there are going to be horizontal load-bearing shelves, in this case the narrow width is a plus. I'm going to force the board straight via brute force. I also cut the outside corner so that the mini-shelves would match the geometric design aesthetic of my other protruding shelves.

My problem then became how to fit a 3" shelf into a 1.5" slot? Again, brute force is my friend. I used a crowbar to leverage the bowed board into position so I could insert the shelf. I'm not a total moron, however, so I used two wooden shims to protect the uprights' pretty stain/varnish finish from marring by the cold, cruel metal of the crowbar.

Here's a better view of my utilization of the classic simple machine.

And here's the shelf slotted into position. I was dreading dealing with the mini-shelves from the start of this project, and while the whole asymmetrical layout is still wonky, I think they look much better than I anticipated. Each shelf has enough space for a couple of books, plus a 4.5" "flying" ledge for action figures or other items to display. Not too shabby. Stay tuned. More to come.

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