Shoe Rack Design

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Forum topic by James Gallo posted 11-14-2019 11:12 PM 241 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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James Gallo

77 posts in 2677 days

11-14-2019 11:12 PM

I’m building a shoe rack for my very first commission. It will be made from 3/4” red oak, with the sides being frame and panel, using 1/2” oak plywood for the panels. The shelves will be 3/4” oak plywood with 3/8” edge banding on exposed fronts.

How would I go about routing (or sawing) the dadoes for the shelves (4 shelves)? I have the rails laid out so the shelves are evenly spaced.
Should I leave my stock wide, cut the dadoes, then crosscut to size, or is there a better way?
I suppose I will need to make stopped dadoes on the front stiles, and I have never done that.
Would 2” rails and stiles be sufficient?
The bottom rails will be 4” with an arc shape at the bottom.
I’m worried about strength of the piece because the only things holding it together are the shelves glued into the dadoes and the 4” bottom rail in the front, which will be doweled to the side stiles.
What thickness plywood should I use for the back?
Should I glue and pin it all, or just glue and pin in spots?

I am also debating on an edge treatment (profile) for the front of the stiles and shelves.

I’m sorry for such a long post, but I want this first one to be right.

Attached is a piss poor sketch I made of the piece.

Also, I have no idea what to charge.

-- Jg, Pittsburgh

6 replies so far

View RDan's profile


127 posts in 2890 days

#1 posted 11-14-2019 11:55 PM

You don’t say if you have a back on it. If there is no backing, you might try a Face Frame on the back to reduce racking of the piece. Stopped Dados can be made with a Router on the whole piece then, stopping short of each edge, then cut it in half.
Just saw your answer. If you are putting on the back, that will stop the racking. You can still do the stopped Dados, in the stiles of the panel frame keeping it wide and then cutting it in half. You could glue the shelves to the plywood panel too, since plywood would not move. Or do a face frame on the front to hide the dado instead. Good Luck. Dan

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James Gallo

77 posts in 2677 days

#2 posted 11-14-2019 11:56 PM

Yes, in my original post, I asked what size plywood I should use for the back.

-- Jg, Pittsburgh

View LesB's profile


2245 posts in 4009 days

#3 posted 11-15-2019 01:34 AM

Yes, in my original post, I asked what size plywood I should use for the back.

- James Gallo

1/4” in strong enough, 1/2 would be better for about the same price.

-- Les B, Oregon

View jbmaine's profile


75 posts in 36 days

#4 posted 11-15-2019 02:11 AM

I think if it were me, I would use 1/2 plywood for the back with maybe a few biscuits connecting the backs of the shelves to the plywood back. That would add strength and greatly minimize and chance of racking.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1489 posts in 3416 days

#5 posted 11-15-2019 01:38 PM

So, you’re building a 36×36 bookcase/shoe rack, at first I thought it was way over engineered for a shoe rack until I blew up the pic to see the scale.

1> If you go with your design and put a 1/2 ply panel rabbeted onto the back of the case you’ll have plenty of strength in the case work to support the structure. (I say 1/2 because you’re already buying it for the sides)
2> For the shelves, given the length, of the shelf I would use more of your RO stock and go with a 3/4×1 stick of solid wood for the front for strength & durability
3> You don’t mention a top, but I would make the top shelf into an actual top with maybe a 3/4 overhang on the front & sides, (this + the bottom + the sides + the back panel + beaucoup strong)
4> As for how the shelves go into the case, I would not use fixed shelves but rather use shelf pins and drill holes into the inside case work using a hole pin jig, (easy to make with a piece of acrylic or hardboard), so that your customer can adjust the space to fit various sized shoes. This way you can leave your initial shelves a bit long and wide and then trim them to fit once your casework is completed.
5> As for profiles, it really comes down to the tools at hand, most times simple is best & for the use of this piece that will likely be going into a closet, I’d be inclined to go with a simple round over or cove.
6> Pricing is really more of what your customer is expecting at this point as you’ve accepted the commission, I generally tell people that ask me to find the piece they’re thinking of in a store and then be prepared to pay 2x to 3x as much for a custom solid wood hand crafted bespoke piece. If they don’t fall over we do business. An often used practice is X# times cost of materials, IE $250 in materials $1,000 for the piece

Congrats on your first commission, you will learn lots as you grow with it. The best thing that I learned doing this sort of work on the side was to spend the time to learn to use sketch-up, which lets me build stuff first and make the mistakes digitally before I’ve cut all the stiles too short. If you go to this link, you can download the 2016 Sketchup version which is much more user friendly than the new web version.

Good luck, remember that there are many great woodworkers here that can help if you run into problems, many times I’ve screwed something up, go ask a question of the LJ’s and usually in less than an hour someone here will come to the rescue.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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James Gallo

77 posts in 2677 days

#6 posted 11-15-2019 07:32 PM

Thanks so much for the info ChefDan!!!

-- Jg, Pittsburgh

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