Quickie: Back Door Shelf

A secondary title would be “A Study in Overthinking.” There’s a spot near our back door where we’ve been wanting to put up a small shelf with some knobs or hooks or something underneath. I decided that it wasn’t worth procrastinating any longer, so I grabbed a piece of eastern white pine, flattened and thicknessed it, and set out to do the actual construction. At first, I thought that I’d make some sides as brackets and use cut nails to put the whole thing together (too much “Anarchist’s Design Book,” you see).

So I plowed a groove into one of the boards that was to be the back. This would accept the shelf:

I had to do this in three stages because (a) I don’t have many blades for the plow plane, and my widest one was a little too wide, and (b) I failed to think ahead that I could have just thicknessed to the width of that wide blade. When you’re overthinking, you wouldn’t accidentally want to think of something that makes sense, right? At least I rejected the sliding dovetail idea.

Then I quickly evened out the bottom with a router plane, and got to fitting the shelf into the back. At that point, I tossed the nail idea out the window because it was faster to glue the thing in place:

The remaining work would be to make the sides that would act as brackets. I was still planning to nail those on, but then I realized that because I glued it, this thing was probably already stronger than it needed to be. There was the option of omitting the brackets altogether and letting the shelf “float,” but I didn’t think that look would fit the intended setting.

My first thought was to just make diagonal braces dovetailed into the rear and top, but partway into making the brace, I decided that this was a dumb idea. It helped that I was feeling lazy. I ended up just mitering the brace with no additional joinery, and just glued them on:

I didn’t even bother to use clamps. In other applications, this might strike one as flimsy, but remember that the purpose of these is decoration. I’m not timber-framing. Still, I did prepare the mitered surface with thinned liquid hide glue before the normal (liquid hide glue) application.

For what it’s worth, I did try knocking them off after the glue dried, and they didn’t budge.

And so here’s the result, edges broken and ready to be painted (at least, I think I’m painting it):

Now I’m destined to overthink the paint. (I think it’s supposed to be white.)

2 thoughts on “Quickie: Back Door Shelf

  1. Having recently messed around with something similar my main concern with gluing on the brackets would be the potential wood movement pulling them apart. A hidden fixing may serve better in the long run… or make it a feature and whack a huge lag screw through it! Along the lines of tighten it up until it strips then back it off a turn đŸ˜‰

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    • I’d thought about screwing them on, but I’m not terribly concerned about wood movement for this particular application. If it were made of hardwood, I’d be more worried. And if a bracket does separate, it’s no big deal. I can always screw it in or bang in a cut nail.

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