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Greg G
 
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Default Finishing wall unit

I'm building a wall shelving unit. It's going to be pretty big, about
4' tall and 13' long. It will hang on the wall in the family room,
touching the ceiling.

I plan to build it as 6 separate bookcases. The shelves and uprights
will be 3/4" oak ply. I plan to make a "face frame" if that's the
right word, of oak 1x2. I may or may not put full backs on the units.
There won't be any doors.

My skills are modest. I'm a reasonably capable homeowner/handyman, and
I've built a few simple pieces before. In building those pieces I have
found that the finishing, even with my very basic methods, is a LOT of
work.

This project is much bigger than anything I've done before and I'm
afraid the finishing will take forever. (Did I mention that I have a
job, a house, a family and limited spare time?) In addition, I found a
stain that I like, adding another step (or two) to the process. Since
the units will be built-in, the outside surfaces won't need to be
finished, except for the bottom, but that still leaves quite a lot.

So, finally, here are my questions:

I'm considering finishing (or partially finishing) all the pieces
BEFORE I assemble the actual units, so I don't have to apply several
coats of "stuff" to a couple of dozen inner surfaces. Since I'm going
to use dadoes and none of the outside surfaces will show, I'm even
considering assembling the units with screws (no glue). Does any of
that sound like a bad idea?

I've tried out the stain already and I like the color. I'm wondering
what to follow it with. I have used a couple of different kinds of
poly on previous projects, with passable but unexciting results. I
think I'd like to try some sort of oil finish this time. Will this
change the color a great deal? I'm looking for a low lustre finish.
Will I need to sand in between coats of oil like some other finishes?
Would it be better in any way to apply the LAST coat AFTER I assemble
the units? (I'm thinking that might help to fill in the edges at the
joints).

I want the project to come out nice, of course, but I'd also like to
enjoy using it before my old age. My wife concurs, strongly, with that
idea. Any suggestions that would help achieve both those goals would
be appreciated.

Greg Guarino
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Ba r r y
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 11:10:28 GMT, Greg G
wrote:

I plan to build it as 6 separate bookcases. The shelves and uprights
will be 3/4" oak ply. I plan to make a "face frame" if that's the
right word, of oak 1x2. I may or may not put full backs on the units.
There won't be any doors.


If you don't use backs, make sure to install some sort of strip that
can support suspending the fully loaded units.

I'm considering finishing (or partially finishing) all the pieces
BEFORE I assemble the actual units, so I don't have to apply several
coats of "stuff" to a couple of dozen inner surfaces. Since I'm going
to use dadoes and none of the outside surfaces will show, I'm even
considering assembling the units with screws (no glue). Does any of
that sound like a bad idea?


I like some glue in addition to the screws. Prefinishing is not a
problem, as long as areas where glue will go are protected with tape.

I've tried out the stain already and I like the color. I'm wondering
what to follow it with. I have used a couple of different kinds of
poly on previous projects, with passable but unexciting results. I
think I'd like to try some sort of oil finish this time.


Regular "oil" finishes, like Watco can get weird over some stains. If
you really want oil, skip the stain and use a tinted oil. I'd also
recommend Waterlox Original, which is an oil and varnish blend.

Waterlox works fine over most stains. I'd use a coat of Seal Coat to
prevent the Waterlox from moving the stain pigment around. A light
hand scuffing with 320 will remove dust nibs.

Will this
change the color a great deal?


Waterlox and plain oils will add a slight amber tint, which is often
desirable on oak. Tinted oils will add the color of the oil.

Would it be better in any way to apply the LAST coat AFTER I assemble
the units? (I'm thinking that might help to fill in the edges at the
joints).


Finish isn't a filler. Oil finishes and Waterlox are repairable, so
you can do the entire finish in the shop with no worries.

Practice on scrap!

Barry
  #3   Report Post  
loutent
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Hi Greg,

Although a pretty big project (in size) this should be a simple one if
you plan everything out ahead of time.

If I understand correctly, you will be making 6 boxes each of which is
about 2x4 - I assume about 12 inches deep or so.

1. Rough cut the plywood (or have the supplier do it when you order it).

2. Cut all the sides, tops & bottoms at the same time on your TS.

3.Run the rabbets & dados -I think that I would have a fixed helf
dadoed in the center of the 4 ft height for support. Drill out for the
adjuatable shelves also. I would add a 1/4 inch back plus an additional
lateral supports so you can screw them to the wall.

4. Stain & put 1 coat of finish on all exposed sides before assembly.

5. Assemble the units with glue & screws.

6. Screw a ledger board to the wall at the height you want.

7. Screw each box to the wall, then to each other as you go.

8. Finish the face frame with a long continuous piece of oak along the
top, bottom & center, then fill in the vertical face frames as needed.
These would be finished ahead of time. When attached, fill in the nail
holes and then apply your last coat of finish. You may need to touch up
the interiors.

9. I might leave an inch or two of clearance at the ceiling so that you
can add a piece of crown molding to finish it off.

10. Remove ledger (or, if you are worried about weight, use a nice
piece of 1x2 oak as a permanant ledger under the cabinet.)

This is how I have done several bookshelves around our house.

Good luck!

Lou



, Greg G
wrote:

I'm building a wall shelving unit. It's going to be pretty big, about
4' tall and 13' long. It will hang on the wall in the family room,
touching the ceiling.

I plan to build it as 6 separate bookcases. The shelves and uprights
will be 3/4" oak ply. I plan to make a "face frame" if that's the
right word, of oak 1x2. I may or may not put full backs on the units.
There won't be any doors.

My skills are modest. I'm a reasonably capable homeowner/handyman, and
I've built a few simple pieces before. In building those pieces I have
found that the finishing, even with my very basic methods, is a LOT of
work.

This project is much bigger than anything I've done before and I'm
afraid the finishing will take forever. (Did I mention that I have a
job, a house, a family and limited spare time?) In addition, I found a
stain that I like, adding another step (or two) to the process. Since
the units will be built-in, the outside surfaces won't need to be
finished, except for the bottom, but that still leaves quite a lot.

So, finally, here are my questions:

I'm considering finishing (or partially finishing) all the pieces
BEFORE I assemble the actual units, so I don't have to apply several
coats of "stuff" to a couple of dozen inner surfaces. Since I'm going
to use dadoes and none of the outside surfaces will show, I'm even
considering assembling the units with screws (no glue). Does any of
that sound like a bad idea?

I've tried out the stain already and I like the color. I'm wondering
what to follow it with. I have used a couple of different kinds of
poly on previous projects, with passable but unexciting results. I
think I'd like to try some sort of oil finish this time. Will this
change the color a great deal? I'm looking for a low lustre finish.
Will I need to sand in between coats of oil like some other finishes?
Would it be better in any way to apply the LAST coat AFTER I assemble
the units? (I'm thinking that might help to fill in the edges at the
joints).

I want the project to come out nice, of course, but I'd also like to
enjoy using it before my old age. My wife concurs, strongly, with that
idea. Any suggestions that would help achieve both those goals would
be appreciated.

Greg Guarino

  #4   Report Post  
Greg G
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 11:43:34 GMT, Ba r r y
wrote:

On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 11:10:28 GMT, Greg G
wrote:

I plan to build it as 6 separate bookcases. The shelves and uprights
will be 3/4" oak ply. I plan to make a "face frame" if that's the
right word, of oak 1x2. I may or may not put full backs on the units.
There won't be any doors.


If you don't use backs, make sure to install some sort of strip that
can support suspending the fully loaded units.


That's what I meant by not a "full" back, but thanks.

I'm considering finishing (or partially finishing) all the pieces
BEFORE I assemble the actual units, so I don't have to apply several
coats of "stuff" to a couple of dozen inner surfaces. Since I'm going
to use dadoes and none of the outside surfaces will show, I'm even
considering assembling the units with screws (no glue). Does any of
that sound like a bad idea?


I like some glue in addition to the screws. Prefinishing is not a
problem, as long as areas where glue will go are protected with tape.


I guess I could put tape in the dadoes. Can I assume that finishing
the plain cut-to-length boards and THEN cutting the dadoes is a bad
idea?

I've tried out the stain already and I like the color. I'm wondering
what to follow it with. I have used a couple of different kinds of
poly on previous projects, with passable but unexciting results. I
think I'd like to try some sort of oil finish this time.


Regular "oil" finishes, like Watco can get weird over some stains. If
you really want oil, skip the stain and use a tinted oil. I'd also
recommend Waterlox Original, which is an oil and varnish blend.


I'm not really stuck on a particular method. I'd have to KNOW
something about finishing to have a strong preference. I just know
that the projects I have done with (water based) polyurethane have
been less than completely satisfying. I'm open to suggestions. I'd
love to find a happy medium between effort and results.

Waterlox works fine over most stains. I'd use a coat of Seal Coat to
prevent the Waterlox from moving the stain pigment around. A light
hand scuffing with 320 will remove dust nibs.

Will this
change the color a great deal?


Waterlox and plain oils will add a slight amber tint, which is often
desirable on oak. Tinted oils will add the color of the oil.


Hmmm. Tinted oils? Do I get to tint them myself, or do I just pick a
color? Brands?

Would it be better in any way to apply the LAST coat AFTER I assemble
the units? (I'm thinking that might help to fill in the edges at the
joints).


Finish isn't a filler. Oil finishes and Waterlox are repairable, so
you can do the entire finish in the shop with no worries.

Practice on scrap!

Barry

Thanks.
  #5   Report Post  
Ba r r y
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Wed, 24 Nov 2004 01:08:42 GMT, Greg G
wrote:


I guess I could put tape in the dadoes. Can I assume that finishing
the plain cut-to-length boards and THEN cutting the dadoes is a bad
idea?


Only if you're positive you can cut dadoes without messing up the
finish. I prefer to build and dry assemble everything, then
disassemble and finish,

Hmmm. Tinted oils? Do I get to tint them myself, or do I just pick a
color? Brands?


Buy them premade. Watco is a commonly available brand in the US. Any
decent paint store or woodworking supplier that carries natural Watco
can usually tell you more about and get you the colored versions.
Many stores have color samples on actual wood.

http://www.watco.net/product.asp?frm_product_id=112&SBL=1

Barry


  #6   Report Post  
Greg G
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 10:15:34 -0500, loutent wrote:

Hi Greg,

Although a pretty big project (in size) this should be a simple one if
you plan everything out ahead of time.

If I understand correctly, you will be making 6 boxes each of which is
about 2x4 - I assume about 12 inches deep or so.


Almost exactly right, but I intend to add a little visual interest (to
put it in the most overstated way) by making the units in three
different widths.

1. Rough cut the plywood (or have the supplier do it when you order it).

2. Cut all the sides, tops & bottoms at the same time on your TS.

3.Run the rabbets & dados -I think that I would have a fixed helf
dadoed in the center of the 4 ft height for support. Drill out for the
adjuatable shelves also.


I'm planning to make all the shelves fixed. I may regret it on
practical grounds, but I have a "look" in mind, which includes
straight horizontal lines.

I would add a 1/4 inch back plus an additional
lateral supports so you can screw them to the wall.


I'm thinking about a back, but I'm not sure. Are you suggesting a back
to keep the units square, or just to hide the wall behind? I have
already decided that no sensible thickness of back would be strong
enough to mount the units with. Your suggestion for lateral supports
is pretty much what I had planned.

4. Stain & put 1 coat of finish on all exposed sides before assembly.

5. Assemble the units with glue & screws.

6. Screw a ledger board to the wall at the height you want.

7. Screw each box to the wall, then to each other as you go.

8. Finish the face frame with a long continuous piece of oak along the
top, bottom & center, then fill in the vertical face frames as needed.
These would be finished ahead of time. When attached, fill in the nail
holes and then apply your last coat of finish. You may need to touch up
the interiors.


I was considering getting a biscuit joiner, but your suggestion has
made me wonder if that's a good idea. Even though this is a built-in I
think it might be nice to be able to disassemble it into the
individual units should we ever decide to move. Nails would allow
that.

9. I might leave an inch or two of clearance at the ceiling so that you
can add a piece of crown molding to finish it off.


I have considered that. The space is a little tight. I may have to go
measure my books again.

10. Remove ledger (or, if you are worried about weight, use a nice
piece of 1x2 oak as a permanant ledger under the cabinet.)


I like that idea. Thanks.

This is how I have done several bookshelves around our house.

Good luck!

Lou



, Greg G
wrote:

I'm building a wall shelving unit. It's going to be pretty big, about
4' tall and 13' long. It will hang on the wall in the family room,
touching the ceiling.

I plan to build it as 6 separate bookcases. The shelves and uprights
will be 3/4" oak ply. I plan to make a "face frame" if that's the
right word, of oak 1x2. I may or may not put full backs on the units.
There won't be any doors.

My skills are modest. I'm a reasonably capable homeowner/handyman, and
I've built a few simple pieces before. In building those pieces I have
found that the finishing, even with my very basic methods, is a LOT of
work.

This project is much bigger than anything I've done before and I'm
afraid the finishing will take forever. (Did I mention that I have a
job, a house, a family and limited spare time?) In addition, I found a
stain that I like, adding another step (or two) to the process. Since
the units will be built-in, the outside surfaces won't need to be
finished, except for the bottom, but that still leaves quite a lot.

So, finally, here are my questions:

I'm considering finishing (or partially finishing) all the pieces
BEFORE I assemble the actual units, so I don't have to apply several
coats of "stuff" to a couple of dozen inner surfaces. Since I'm going
to use dadoes and none of the outside surfaces will show, I'm even
considering assembling the units with screws (no glue). Does any of
that sound like a bad idea?

I've tried out the stain already and I like the color. I'm wondering
what to follow it with. I have used a couple of different kinds of
poly on previous projects, with passable but unexciting results. I
think I'd like to try some sort of oil finish this time. Will this
change the color a great deal? I'm looking for a low lustre finish.
Will I need to sand in between coats of oil like some other finishes?
Would it be better in any way to apply the LAST coat AFTER I assemble
the units? (I'm thinking that might help to fill in the edges at the
joints).

I want the project to come out nice, of course, but I'd also like to
enjoy using it before my old age. My wife concurs, strongly, with that
idea. Any suggestions that would help achieve both those goals would
be appreciated.

Greg Guarino


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patriarch
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Greg G wrote in
:

snippage of earlier conversations

I'm planning to make all the shelves fixed. I may regret it on
practical grounds, but I have a "look" in mind, which includes
straight horizontal lines.


I find I rarely move shelves, once they are installed, even if I can.

I would add a 1/4 inch back plus an additional
lateral supports so you can screw them to the wall.


I'm thinking about a back, but I'm not sure. Are you suggesting a back
to keep the units square, or just to hide the wall behind?


Both are good reasons. Do we have to pick just one?

I have
already decided that no sensible thickness of back would be strong
enough to mount the units with. Your suggestion for lateral supports
is pretty much what I had planned.


Think 'french cleat'. Makes installation _so_ much easier.

snip of building process

I was considering getting a biscuit joiner, but your suggestion has
made me wonder if that's a good idea. Even though this is a built-in I
think it might be nice to be able to disassemble it into the
individual units should we ever decide to move. Nails would allow
that.


Uhhh, I'd consider that twice, I think. Built-ins, at least in the
jurisdictions in which I have lived, are considered part of the property
when it comes time to sell. If you declare otherwise in the real estate
listing, it tends to raise a flag. Once you have built these, you'll be
able to build another set in 50% of the time, with fewer challenges,
because you will be _experienced_. ;-)

That having been said, I can see about three places where biscuits might
help the joinery. I don't see where they really aid much in portability,
but then, I think that is a lesser goal, unless you are a renter. (1)

9. I might leave an inch or two of clearance at the ceiling so that you
can add a piece of crown molding to finish it off.


I have considered that. The space is a little tight. I may have to go
measure my books again.

10. Remove ledger (or, if you are worried about weight, use a nice
piece of 1x2 oak as a permanant ledger under the cabinet.)


I like that idea. Thanks.


I figure that the only time my household will have fewer books is after my
funeral. Build for strength where you can.

My recommendation on the finish is to use Waterlox. Google the archives
for the how. The why is that it is every bit as easy as Watco, or any
other danish oil, but builds & cures faster and is more durable. Looks
_way_ better than most water-based finishes.

Take pictures. Share on abpw. Enjoy the process.

Patriarch

(1) I have, and like, a DeWalt biscuit jointer. The Porter Cable seems to
be on special this season, and is also a good, but somewhat different,
machine. At the same price, I'd take the PC. If I needed to spend less, I
think I'd look for a different way to do the joinery, rather than buy a
cheapie. YMMV
  #8   Report Post  
loutent
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Hi Greg,

snip

I'm thinking about a back, but I'm not sure. Are you suggesting a back
to keep the units square, or just to hide the wall behind? I have
already decided that no sensible thickness of back would be strong
enough to mount the units with. Your suggestion for lateral supports
is pretty much what I had planned.


I was just talking aesthetics here - it's a PITA to repaint the wall
between all those shelves. Another consideration is that your wall will
not be perfectly flat (if it's drywall) and you will probably have
spaces here and there (unless you try to scribe everything which would
be a nightmare on the back). Putting a 1/4 inch back eliminates that
problem. Having done it both ways, I always us a back. You can paint
it a color if you don't want a stained wood back.

I was considering getting a biscuit joiner, but your suggestion has
made me wonder if that's a good idea. Even though this is a built-in I
think it might be nice to be able to disassemble it into the
individual units should we ever decide to move. Nails would allow
that.


Biscuits would be better and not show. When I said nails, I meant nails
& glue, but if you think you might want to take it apart, then the
nails would be ok I guess.

A general rule of thumb in any house move is that nothing in the old
place will fit the new place - and even if it does, SWMBO will hate it
in the new place anyway - so it will probably stay behind in the old
place.

:-

10. Remove ledger (or, if you are worried about weight, use a nice
piece of 1x2 oak as a permanant ledger under the cabinet.)


I like that idea. Thanks.


If the unit is going wall to wall (i.e., between two walls), be sure to
allow space on either side for a filler strip so you can scribe a tight
fit.

Good luck!

Lou
  #9   Report Post  
Greg
 
Posts: n/a
Default

loutent wrote in message ...
Hi Greg,

snip

I'm thinking about a back, but I'm not sure. Are you suggesting a back
to keep the units square, or just to hide the wall behind? I have
already decided that no sensible thickness of back would be strong
enough to mount the units with. Your suggestion for lateral supports
is pretty much what I had planned.


I was just talking aesthetics here - it's a PITA to repaint the wall
between all those shelves. Another consideration is that your wall will
not be perfectly flat (if it's drywall) and you will probably have
spaces here and there (unless you try to scribe everything which would
be a nightmare on the back). Putting a 1/4 inch back eliminates that
problem. Having done it both ways, I always us a back. You can paint
it a color if you don't want a stained wood back.


This is my first foray into rec.woodworking, and I have to say that
I've gotten a couple of tips that I didn't even ask for that should
spare me a lot of grief. I hadn't given any real thought to the fact
that the wall won't be flat.

I was considering getting a biscuit joiner, but your suggestion has
made me wonder if that's a good idea. Even though this is a built-in I
think it might be nice to be able to disassemble it into the
individual units should we ever decide to move. Nails would allow
that.


Biscuits would be better and not show. When I said nails, I meant nails
& glue, but if you think you might want to take it apart, then the
nails would be ok I guess.


That was just an afterthought. Sitting here on the front end of a
large job I find myself thinking that I'll practically want to be
buried in the thing once it's done. But after a few years I suppose I
might be able to part with it.

A general rule of thumb in any house move is that nothing in the old
place will fit the new place - and even if it does, SWMBO will hate it
in the new place anyway - so it will probably stay behind in the old
place.

:-


Not many women on this group, I assume?

10. Remove ledger (or, if you are worried about weight, use a nice
piece of 1x2 oak as a permanant ledger under the cabinet.)


I like that idea. Thanks.


If the unit is going wall to wall (i.e., between two walls), be sure to
allow space on either side for a filler strip so you can scribe a tight
fit.


Another good idea. I've been wanting to write a book called
"second-time knowledge" that would chronicle the education I've been
getting doing every damned thing for the FIRST time since I became the
lord (and handyman) of my undersized manor. Thanks for the tips.

Greg Guarino
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