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.)
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 😉
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.