Ladder Shelf #1: Building the Frames

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Blog entry by MasonJay posted 10-12-2020 09:26 PM 511 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Ladder Shelf series Part 2: Making shelves, cutting dados, sanding »

This will be the second… third ladder shelf build that I’ve done recently. The first, made of pine, was a travesty. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure though, and I had someone buy it from me so I recovered the cost of the materials. They painted it a sent a picture of it loving what they had. One major mistake I made with this first attempt was not realizing that I was building to sides that mirrored each other. So instead of using pocket screws on both the insides, one side was done correctly and the other had the pocket screw holes facing out. I used pocket screws for the side stretchers then glued another piece to the inside to create a ledge to glue the shelf to. the picture doesn’t show this mistake, but take my word for it.

On to building the second one that I used alder for, which is my new favorite to work with. Still being a newbie I found that it is super easy to work with and has a great natural look with just a clear coat. I’m not a fan of staining since I’ve never had great success with that step. There wasn’t anything “wrong” with the second one, I just didn’t take time cleaning the glue off of it and showed some cosmetic imperfections when I put the osmo on it. I also don’t have consistent shelf heights on this one which isn’t a huge deal, it’s just a “feature.” My wife loved it so much, instead of going in the little one’s room she put it in the living room and asked for another shelf. Here is the second shelf below, I am working of the same dimensions to create number 3.

This is the third and hopefully last time I build this. Once it’s complete it’ll go in the living room and the current one will go to the daughter’s room. Again I am using alder for the project. I bought 5 – 8ft 1×2’s for the two front legs, two back legs, and some extra for stretchers across the back and sides. I also bought 10 board feet of 1×6 alder to glue up the shelves.

Today’s work was simple to start but then gave me a headache. I cut two back legs at 71 inches and two front legs at 72 inches with the ends angled to 9 degrees. I used half laps for the frame joinery. While cutting the half lap dados and rabbits for the back legs and back parts of the stretchers at 90 degrees, it was easy to set up a stop block and make consistent repeated cuts. Being new, I struggled with the angled pieces + half laps + dados/rabbits and couldn’t figure a way to do a fence w/ stop block for the angled cuts. To complex for my simple mind right now. So it resulted in me taking my time and carefully marking/measuring/sneaking up on my cuts to get nearly identical sides. Glued them up and moved on to cutting the 1×6’s. (I left the stretchers long and will come back and saw them off with the pull saw.)

We are aiming for 24” wide so the 1×6’s got cut a little larger for the glue up and will be trimmed down to the final width once I get there. But for now just multiple cross cuts at the mitre saw since I was working with 10ft long 1x’s.

Sorry for the odd photo orientation, I still have no idea how to keep you from tilting your head, or screen.


1 comment so far

View Chiaroscuro's profile


157 posts in 2018 days

#1 posted 10-24-2020 05:47 AM

Orientation issues – open your photo on phone or whatever… rotate the photo. Exit. Open again and rotate to the correct orientation. Works on iPhone at least. Nice project!

-- Todd

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