Monday, August 11, 2014

Cubby Book Shelves

I was asked a little over a month ago to make a cubby shelf unit for a preschool.  The owner pretty much had the design they wanted which made it a lot easier than designing the unit from scratch.

 There was some pretty big huddles that I needed to overcome to make this unit.  The first was that I no longer have a truck.  5x5  birch sheets do not fit in a mini van.  I ended up tying them to the roof.  I really was scared that I would end up with 5 sheets of birch ply all over the street.
Although they did not fall off, the rope loosened to give the boards about a  1/2" of play in all directions.  This was enough to make me nervous and I will have to tie down better if I do this again.
I also worried about how I was going to put it together.  The largest claps I have are 48" bar clamps and these units were going to be 60" long.  I thought about stringing claps together but that used up clamps fast.  I ended up borrowing 60" pipe claps from work.  They worked great.
The next was the finishing.  There were a lot of areas that were going to be very difficult to finish after everything was assembled.  I decided to pre-finish the parts.  I went through an entire role of masking tape to mask off all the grooves and glue joints.  It took forever.  I did everything but the outside faces.  I probably should have pre-finished everything.  I will say it was a pain to mask everything off and then take all the tape off, but is was in the end easier to pre-finish than it would have been to finish the assembled units.
The first dry fit was not as good as I had hoped.  I did all the grooving on a CNC mill.  I could have done it on my own with a handheld router.  The CNC router saved me about two Saturdays and a lot of set up.  I messed up on the notching distance so I had to finish the cutouts by hand.  This was a minor price to pay for the time saved.
Overall it was a good project.  I only made a couple of mistakes and all but one was covered up well.  it is a pretty sturdy unit which should last a long time.  Everything is grooved into place.  I also arched the frame rails just because I could.  I am kind of tired of the square look so I wanted to try something different.  It was interesting to use the drum sander on the long arches.  There must be a trick to getting one smooth arch.  I think I would push too hard because the arched went bumpy.  It took a little while to sand out the bumps.
The build was fun, I think toys are more my thing.

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