How to assemble case with 24 3/4 dowel rods?


Hi,
I have one idea of how to approach this potentially tricky assembly, but thought I'd ask around a bit:
I'm making an open CD rack, not unlike some commercial models, except I'm using nice stock. The two sides will join to an upper and lower shelf and stretchers, but... the CDs will be kept on 3/4" dowels. So, when joining everything together, I'll need to include 24 separate 33" dowels running from one side to the other.
A nightmare in the making? How might we keep all the dowels in place, hitting all the holes in the sides, all while gluing up the sides to the shelves and stretchers?
I'd prefer not to run the dowels through holes in one side.
My idea is to make a "holder" out of masonite, and then cut it away after assembly. Any other ideas? Am I overlooking something basic?
Thanks! Rob
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Rob wrote:

Cardboard would be easier to cut away. Make 2, one for each end of the dowels. This will help keep the dowels perpendicular to the first frame while you wrestle the other ends in at the same time. Based on assembling a louvered shutter I'd round the 2nd end of the dowels a little. Joe
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I like your disposable "alignment tool" idea. Suggest precutting a cut to each hole in the alignment tool to make it easier to remove. In fact, you could cut out slightly less than 1/2 the circle, leaving an alignment hole that is pretty easy to break away from the finished piece.
Another alternative is just to glue one end at a time. Put the other end on dry for alignment and clamping purposes, then come back to glue that end.
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Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.

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Do they all need to be glued? Maybe you could just glue top, bottom and middle and use a slow setting glue to give you time to work. I made a pair of louvered vents once and did not glue the louvers at all but I had a top and bottom rail holding everything together.

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Hi.
Thanks for the great suggestions.
The dowels don't need to be glued at all - I don't care if they rotate around in the sockets. Only the shelves and stretchers will be glued into the sides.
But without some alignment tool, I just don't see how one could do the glue-up, get all the dowels aligned, and then clamp it home. My concern was that by the time I got all the dowels placed, the glue at the tops and bottoms would already be dry!
BTW, solid, one-piece, 11" wide mahogany sides with a fair curve front profile, mahogany shelves and stretchers, to be finished with shellac. It'll stand about 5'-2".
Rob
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Rob wrote:

Make an alignment tool then. Take some scrap or cheap stock and drill it to match the ends but drill all the way through then rip it in half down the middle and clamp the halves together on the dowles.
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Before you bother making an alignment tool, try putting it together once without glue. You may find it is not that hard to align, and ANY project should be dry fitted at least once before getting out the glue. The previous suggestion to slightly round or chamfer the dowel edges is a good idea that will help the dowels go in their holes easily.
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On 30 Dec 2005 11:21:30 -0800, with neither quill nor qualm, "Rob"

I should have used 3/4" dowels but tried 1/2" instead. They droop, even with a 17" width. I recommend using a center support as well for your 33" width.

I didn't have too much trouble doing it. I doped (yellow glue) the holes (none went through the outside veneer on either panel) and stuffed the dowels in one end, doped the other holes and sat the end on the dowels, aligning them one by one from one end to the other. It took less than 30 seconds. Chamfer the loose ends and you'll have less trouble than I did with my 15 dowels in 5 rows.

Or you could leave it in the center as a support, unless you prefer to use a nice piece of wood there instead.
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Hi!
Thanks again for all the replies and ideas, particularly the one on easing the ends of the dowels. That helped tremendously.
I wound buying a pack of multi-purpose panel foam -- polystyrene. Very inexpensive stuff. Having used a Kraft paper template for layout of all the dowels, I simply transfered the hole locations from the paper to the polystyrene, then drilled out the foam with a 3/4" forstner. (Yes, little pellets of poly just about everywhere.)
I squared and glued up the top and bottom shelves to one side of the cabinet and let them dry. Then, I threaded the 24 dowels through the poly and into the pre-assembled side, moving the poly panel to its best location. That held all dowels pretty much in place. Then it was just a matter of gluing up the bottom to the other side and clamping it loosely, setting all the dowels in place, until the top was glued and set... then clamped it all home.
After it was dry, I simply broke pieces of the poly away... and cleaned up the mess. Next time, I'll wait for more humid weather...
On another note... I didn't engineer the piece too well for the span. Using 3/4" dowels over 33" span didn't hold all those CDs very well, with each span sagging noticeably in the middle. It looked pretty bad.
To fix that, I took a spare rip of mahogany and planed & chamfered it down to what I thought would be a minimal thickness and width, then drilled out 1/2-holes for the front-most dowels. I simply popped the piece vertically in the middle, setting it on the bottom shelf, and snapped the 1/2-holes over each of the front dowels. No glue, no nails, no nuttin'. It now sits there, supporting the dowels nicely in the center, and looks just like a pre-planned center divider.
Thanks again! Rob
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