I am really leaning in favor of prefinishing the pieces of my
bookshelves - at least the stain and a coat or two of finish. My (3/4"
nominal) shelves will fit into 1/4" deep dadoes. The shelves will fit
into the dadoes at their full thickness. Counting the tops and bottoms
as "shelves", there are 20 pieces.
I thought it would be a really great idea to make "end caps" - 2x2
material as long as the shelves are deep, with dadoes cut in them - to
both "mask" the shelf edges and allow me to stack the prefinished
shelves in a small space. And it would be a great idea, but I'd need 40
of them, or a significant fraction of 40 at least, and that seems like a
lot of wood and a lot of work.
So now I'm wondering about painter's tape. Is there any reason I
couldn't tape the ends of the shelves - deliberately overshooting the
area that will go into the dado by a little bit - then cut away the
excess with a straightedge and an X-acto knife? I imagine locating the
line so as to have it end up just inside the dado after assembly.
As for the uprights, was thinking I could avoid getting stain and finish
in the dadoes by putting strips of ply in the grooves while I coat them.
In fact, that might also facilitate stacking, especially as only two of
the eight uprights will be finished on both sides.
Any better ideas?
By the way, many thanks to whoever it was that suggested a pattern bit
for the dadoes. I took me a while to make the jig, but once I got going
it was like clockwork.
Use 1" wide painters tape for both the panel edges and the dadoes. If
your dadoes are 3/4 x 1/4, the fit will be just right, although a
little bit of slop either way won't make that much difference.
Pre-finishing can be a lot of work:
So you need to decide if it is worth if for the particular project. Even
though there were literally hundreds of tape areas on the above, it was
well worth the time considering how much it will protect against finish
problems from the glue.
IME, it is much harder to evenly stain a complicated piece that is
already assembled, than to topcoat an already assembled piece.
So, when I pre-finish with stain, I only do stain, not any top coats.
If you have any bare spots because of the tape placement, apply a small
amount of the stain to those places with Qtip before top coating.
Another tip ... try not to slice the tape with razor blade or knife.
Much better to lay the blade on the tape, then pull the tape upwards
against the resting blade to cut the tape. You'll be glad you did.
And, if you're using Blue painters tape, remove the tape as soon as you
can. The stuff becomes more time consuming to remove with each passing
day, especially in nooks and crannies.
I saw those when you posted them once before. You must come from
especially patient stock.
That's what I'm worried about. It's a simple enough project
conceptually, but with ten dadoes to glue simultaneously (and then the
back to insert)and my modest skills, I'm wondering if I can keep
adequate track of all the squeeze-out
Suppose I do that, which could make certain things easier (like where to
put all of the parts while they dry); are you suggesting that any glue
errors that I don't catch will not be fatal, as the color will at least
I believe you spray on finishes, at least sometimes. If you couldn't do
that, and if you were generally less skilled than you are [ :) ], would
you still only pre-stain? I'm leaning toward wiping poly for this
project. I tried it on my test piece and it seemed easy and not too
finicky, qualities I'll need to finish so much square footage decently.
I can see how that would be a handy method given your dozens of small
mortise joints, but in my case each tape "line" will be 11 or 12 inches
long. Am I missing something? Would you really place the blade down,
pull up the tape, then move the blade one "blade-width" down the line
and repeat that 8 times on each side of each edge for 20 shelves worth?
I guess what I'm asking is this: Would I be doing that to avoid cutting
into the wood? Or for some other reason?
If I only do the staining pre-assembly, I can remove the tape immediately.
Which is where hide glue absolutely shines. You can clean
up any amount of squeeze-out with a rag dampened with
warm water. Any residual glue accepts stain just like
wood -- no tell-tale lines where cured yellow glue won't
absorb finish. Liquid hide glue will work as well in this
regard as hot hide glue, the only caveat being to check
the date, that it's less than 6 months old.
I'm patient only when it costs me money to not be. ;)
I always try to break the glue-ups into logical parts, doing a dry fit
of the whole enchilada at the same time to insure those little
inaccuracies that always crop up fit/don't have to be forced for the
final glue-up stage.
When doing glue-ups, particular complicated ones, of cabinet and case
parts, I live and die by these clamps, and I have plenty:
Often I will even screw them into a plywood jig just for the particular
One of those clamps that you just can't have too many of ...
Depends upon the wood, the stain and the glue, but mostly, yes. With an
oil based stain, PVA glue will normally not stick to the stained parts,
and if it does, it is usually easier to clean off without effecting the
$2 pizza cutter, sharpened, and wielded in such a manner as to not slice
Yes, you don't want to slice into the wood, or the plywood veneer, as
you will get a highly visible "streak" where the stain sits below the
surface. It will also accentuate the joint, which can be desirably, or not.
Mostly nasty, and very amateurish looking.
I forgot the mention that, used when working solo, each pair of these
clamps is like having an extra person in the shop helping with the glue-up.
Use them with a helper who understands the nuances of glue-ups, and you
can blow through as many cabinet glue-ups in short order as you have
clamps ... and highly accurate, square cabinet, glue-ups.
Damned hard to find for a long time. I have a set that must be at least
40 years old, and was tickled to find them again at Sears a couple of
Reminds me ... I probably ought to buy a couple more while I can afford
The set I had started life as a picture frame kit.
3 identical clamps and a fourth with a built in miter box to
cut frame to final size.
Never built a picture frame but still got a lot of use out of them.
(Very useful when laying up plywood cored fiberglass boxes.)
Each bookcase has two uprights, five horizontal pieces in dadoes and a
back. Of the eight uprights (there are 4 units), only two will show,
so I could use screws or nails in some places. I haven't decided yet.
I own five (strange number huh?) corner clamps, also craftsman, but
they aren't quite as nice as yours; there's no quick release, and they
have tiny metal "pads". I've been thinking of using them in the
outside corners to help get the cases square before I put the backs
on. I'm still mulling the assembly method, which is OK since I have
loads of sanding and staining to do first. I'm considering screwing
some strategic braces into the assembly surface, laying them out
square to make it easy to line up the actual units.
Or there's that.
Good. I'll be staining some test pieces first. Maybe I'll deliberately
put some glue on them for practice. (seriously)
Interesting. Thanks for the help. I'll probably need more.
so I could use screws or nails in some places. I haven't decided yet.
My money says you will take a page out of Norm's book and toe nail
each dado as the glue up proceeds with headless pins.
Check out an old NYW for details.
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