When we first moved into our new house we imagined all the changes we would make and thought of how relatively easy and quick they would be – now six months later I am still essentially working on the first project. The Kitchen. Now to give myself an excuse, the kitchen is not simply one project but multiple. This part of the odyssey I titled, The Shelves.
My intention from the very beginning was to paint these shelves, so I selected some Poplar for the boards. But not being able to find the widths I wanted I had to glue them up to size. To do this I used some boards and wedges to make cheap bar clamps (you can read more about that here.)
From there it was a matter of smoothing out the boards, especially at the glue joint. To do this I used my tuned-up Stanley Smoothing Plane, which shaved off beautiful ribbons of wood. Now to gives this job a little perspective, each of these shelves are 10 inches wide and 10 feet long. This made each pass a long walk with the smoothing plane, but with time and patience I was able tame the boards for each shelf.
Then I made some rabbets and grooves with my Stanley 45 (I forgot to take any pictures save this one, so you will have to just trust me that there was rabbets and grooves). The reason for this, as you will see in the final picture, was to edge each shelf with an approximately 1 1/2 inch board that gives the shelves more weight and substance. And I grooved them to match instead of just nailing to allow the wide main boards the ability to expand and contract with the weather without pulling the miters apart on the edge boards.
Next up, the shelf supports. I made the supports a separate piece for one reason: ease of installation. The act of trying to hold and hang a ten foot long shelf, and get it straight, is beyond me. But by making each support separate, I could carefully measure and position them on the wall, then simply lift up the shelf and set it on top of them. I cut out the supports on my bandsaw. I could have cut them by hand, but I still haven’t got around to tuning up my handsaws for that kind of cutting. Then I carefully cut out a recess in the back of each support for some shelf hardware with a chisel.
With all the gluing, cutting, and smoothing done it was just a matter of a few coats of paint. I chose some Oil-Based paint from Sherwin Williams. I know a lot of people avoid Oil-Based because of the fumes and the messy clean-up, but when it comes to durability- it can’t be beat by Latex. I have painted shelves in both and the Oil-Based just out performs above and beyond, plus Latex tends to be sticky even after it dries. If you set something heavy on a latex painted shelf for a few days -it will stick. Now you can fix that with a coat of poly, but that is more work, more clean-up, and you always run the risk that the poly will change the color of your paint. So for me the clear choice is Oil-Based.