DVD Shelves (Failed project)

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Project by Dan Corbin posted 01-02-2014 03:33 AM 2886 views 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I say that these are a failed project, but they still function perfectly. I learned a LOT in making this, and I will absolutely be making another set soon, and hopefully much better.

First, I used oak plywood from the big box store. I began by cutting dados in the full sheets with my router. All I had was a 1/2” router bit to cut a 3/4” dado, so each dado took two passes. I didn’t have an 8-foot straight edge, so I jointed a 2×4 flat and clamped it to the face of the sheet. I don’t know if my 2×4 was less than straight, the clamps were letting the straight edge move, or what, but the dados were anything but consistent. What dados I couldn’t cut in the entire sheet (there was a shelf or two that had to come out of a second sheet), I had to cut those separately—my measuring was rather off and you can see that one of the uprights isn’t square. Next time, I must plan, measure, and mark MUCH more carefully.

Once I cut the dados, I cut each strip with my circular saw, which was very time consuming. Once the sheet was small enough to handle on my tablesaw, I switched to cutting the boards there. Strangely enough, the tablesaw began to rip out huge chunks of the red oak veneer, which looked awful. The blade was also getting stuck in the board, which left nice burn marks all over the edges. I’ve since learned that the saw blade in my table saw is of extremely low quality, and I wasn’t using a zero-clearance insert. I think that fixing both of those things would have made it better. A track saw is now on my list of tools I want.

Next, I glued up an entire shelf at once and put just 4 pipe clamps on it to hold it together. You can see that some of the vertical spacers didn’t seat into their dados, which made the horizontal shelves all kinds of wavy. I think this is due part to the above-mentioned problem in laying out and cutting my dados. Next time, way more clamps, glue up less at a time, and check both sides to make sure that all of the dados have seated properly.

These are all reasons why I say that this project was a failure. But I learned so much from this, and the shelves are absolutely usable (we are suing them for our DVD storage). I just never bothered to finish them since there were just so many things that went wrong.

-- ~ Dan, North Carolina,

5 comments so far

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4238 days

#1 posted 01-02-2014 03:51 AM

Check out The Woodwhisperer YouTube video for “Exact width dado jig”. I made one similar to his and use a flush trim bit to make the dadoes (several passes until desired depth is achieved).

A sharp blade on your T/S, maybe use some blue painters tape and a zero clearance plate will help minimize tear out.

Good luck. Keep plugging away.

Note: Most of the time, I use a table saw sled to make cross cuts on the table saw. I always get good clean cuts.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View CalgaryGeoff's profile


937 posts in 3489 days

#2 posted 01-02-2014 03:53 AM

That will do the trick, DVD’s off the coffee table and floor. Amazing how much you can learn from such a simple looking project ? Best of luck with version 2 DVD holder build.

I too use table saw sleds for cross cuts and lots of other stuff, zero clearance insert not required when using a sled either. Sounds like a kerf cut might help with the tear out too. Cut it first to 1/4 to 1/3 the way through your sheet and then full cut through on second pass. The adjustable or fixed, exact width dado jig for use with a router is awesome it’s highly accurate and most important, makes repeatable cuts a breeze. Shelves should always fit snugly or just right using that jig.

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30597 posts in 3346 days

#3 posted 01-02-2014 11:33 AM

The fact that you learned from it is always good. All future projects benefit from this piece.

Side note, wow that’s a lot of DVDs.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View DBrown52's profile


65 posts in 2738 days

#4 posted 01-02-2014 05:00 PM

I think the most unappreciated part of woodworking is how difficult it can be to keep everything square and how easy it is for the human eye to see when it’s not.

For the crooked dadoes, I’d guess that your 2×4 wasn’t completely straight since 8ft is an awfully long distance to run through a standard jointer without rocking in some direction or another. Next time, joint a second 2×4 and make sure the faces line up properly so you can be sure you have a true straight edge.

I always figured the flaws in what I make are there to prove that I was the one who actually made it.

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3968 days

#5 posted 01-02-2014 11:54 PM

You can buy a long aluminum straight edge at Lowe’s for about $10-12. It’s in two pieces for short or long cuts. Wouldn’t be without it.

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