Floating Serpentine Shelf #6: Overall Structure (Odds and Ends)

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Blog entry by Ron Stewart posted 07-14-2017 07:31 PM 1438 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Completing the Torsion Boxes Part 6 of Floating Serpentine Shelf series Part 7: Applying the Finish »
The overall shelf’s structure comprises several elements:
  • A back panel that is a one-sided torsion box.
  • Individual shelves that are torsion boxes and which are attached to the back panel with 3/4” dowels and numerous #14 wood screws.
  • Short sides, also torsion boxes, that connect pairs of individual shelves with 3/8” dowels and glue.
  • French cleats integrated into the back panel to hang the shelf on the wall.

I had to make provisions for this structure throughout the construction process, and that makes it difficult to describe the project in strictly linear fashion. Therefore, I’ll just show some some photos that illustrate parts of the process.

Here’s the back panel skeleton showing the shelf dowel holes.

Here’s a close-up of one of the cleats.

Before I attached the back panel’s skin, I placed it skin-side down, placed the parts of the French cleats that would eventually mount to the room’s wall in place, and then screwed temporary braces to them, resulting in this mounting guide. The goal here was not having to measure each wall cleat’s location later.

After all of the skeletons were assembled, I clamped the entire structure to my workbench.

While doing this, I had to use scraps of plywood as spacers to account for the thickness of the skins. I didn’t take a photo, but I clamped the back panel to the shelf/side structure and used a 3/4” Forstner bit to partially drill the holes in the shelf skeleton’s back frames (to guarantee alignment during final assembly later). After separating all of the skeletons, I finished drilling the holes on my drill press (to make sure they were perpendicular).

I had to drill the dowel holes in the individual shelves’ outside ribs before attaching the skins, which meant the skins would cover the holes. After the skins were attached, I had to drill through the skins to expose the holes. To simplify that task, I made a template before attaching the skins to use afterward.

(Despite my best efforts, all of this work with the shelf/side dowel holes turned out to be mostly useless. Because there was some slop in how I glued the skins to the outside shelf edges, the dowels didn’t align the sides to the shelf edges perfectly. I ended up shortening the dowels to nubs that were useful only for very rough alignment during final assembly.)

With this structural interlude complete, I’ll move on to finishing next.

-- Ron Stewart

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