New window sill shelf design needed


I'm getting new PVC windows installed. For the upstairs windows I ordered them with an accessory molding, which means there's a 3/4" slot all the way around that can accept 1-by stock. For the sides and top I intend to fill it in and cover it with the wife's choice of plain molding, mitred at the top corners. They will be painted with an accent colour to go with some future wall colour. There is a small jamb extension that will also have to be filled in. I haven't decided whether to use painted pine, but that's probably the first choice.
For the bottom I've insisted I want a clear wood shelf, maybe 6" deep, large enough to hold a few plants or maybe just look nice. We have yellowish oak floors, but I'm not sure if I should go with an oak shelf as I'm afraid I won't be able to match the colour. In your opinion would it look stupid if I used some other kind of wood (pine or maple)?
Do any of you have some simple designs I could peruse? I will need a (wooden) way to support it, and I'm not sure if I can depend on a pair of studs being positioned exactly symmetrical below the window frame. At the moment all I can think of is rounding over the top edge, which makes me think I'm missing an opportunity here. My taste is simplistic, but not stark, if that helps.
I'd also appreciate any advise on finish. This wood will be exposed to sun over the long term and most likely a bit of water. We're low maintenance people here.
I hope my requests are comprehensible. Thanks for any suggestions.
- Owen -
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[severely snipped nice project plan for the sake of brevity]

I find that I'm selling quite a bit of solid surface material for use in exactly those types of plans. It is a wonderful choice, as the material is colourfast (assuming one choses an acrylic version such as Meganite, Wilsonart Gibraltar, Staron or DuPont Corian and are also absolutely water proof. Huge selections of fabulous colours. Most manufacturers and distributors offer a strip program where strips upward to 5 3/4" wide can be purchased. The edges can be machined with basic carbide wood-working tools. Not a low-cost solution, but zero upkeep. Zero.
Caveat: I'm associated with darn near everybody in the solid surface industry so I'm biased as can be.
PS. Granite and engineered stone work really well in those applications.
HTH
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Rob makes a good suggestion.
I have a natural maple sill in my kitchen which gets a little bit of rain on a windy rainy day if the window is left open. The water-based poly is just not up to that. I'm just not convinced that a natural-finish window sill is all that good of an idea.
The bay window has a granite sill to match the counters.... that rocks ;-).
I would say go with solid surface or paint.
-Steve
wrote:

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You make me think about it, but I lived in a house before that had painted shelves at each window and it was fine. So I'm thinking I'll still go with clear wood, and if there gets to be a problem over time I still have the option of painting. If I avoid water based finish and use something like Thompson's Water Seal maybe it'll fare better. I've used Swedish penetrating oil in the bathroom and never had a problem there, either, and I've got lots left. Mind you we only stayed in that house another five years after putting in the pine panelling. My wife is not averse to putting a piece of glass over it either, but now we're talking more trouble than I want right now.
So the choice is between oak, maple, and pine in that order. I'm not crazy about oak because of the open grain, but I do want it to be reasonably close to the floor (which is currently covered by carpet but that's likely to change someday).
I've been mulling it over and here's what I've been thinking: Oak board 6 1/2" wide (1/2" for the slot it sits in), extending 3 or 4" beyond each side of the window. The painted pine vertical side moldings will butt against it at right angles. I'll use sliding dovetails to attach it to two oak support brackets of the same thickness as the shelf, with some simple wavy pattern along the diagonal of the mostly triangular shape. The corners of the shelf away from the wall will be rounded on a 1" radius or thereabouts, and all edges not meeting the wall will be given a roundover on the router table. The sliding dovetails will allow me to remove and replace if the need arises, which it will when we paint the walls.
The only thing I haven't figured out is how to attach the supports, because I can't depend on a stud being exactly where I want it. Alternatively I can attach a long board underneath the shelf, parallel to the wall, and attach brackets to it. But now we're starting to use up more wood than I'd prefer to look at.
It's not a fait accompli, but that's what I'm considering now. Gosh I'm verbose--sorry. What do you think?
- Owen -
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I would think that you want a film finish...TWS ain't that. IF you go glass, just make sure you put a little bead of clear silicone around the perimeter to precent water from wicking under.
FWIW the finish failure that I observed was where screwed the sill down and used a tapered plug. The plug was tight but somehow that plug resulted in a fine crack/seam in the finish.
That said I think the sill design is quite nice. perhaps it will give you some ideas. I'll post tonigth to ABPW.
-Steve

Oooh ....hold on a minute; this is supposed to be carpentry not FWW.

As much as I think a sliding dovetail ais a very cool concept, if that board wants to cup after installation (not that it will, because it will be held in place by the "sliding pins") but I could very easily see it not wanting to come back out.
just a thought.
-Steve
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Looking foward to seeing it, assuming I can access the binary newsgroup. My ISP will give me permission if I ask for it, but until now I've not bothered.

By the time I'm done FWW, it's usually carpentry. But I try my best...

Good point. Leaving some slop in the joint wouldn't be such a bad thing, since the majority of the force will be downward most of the time, not away from the wall. But if the board twists a bit I wouldn't want it to rock, either. The bracket won't extend the entire width of the board, maybe only half of it. (There's the drywall thickness to get past, and I will stop it before reaching the front.) Maybe I could cut the middle out of the dovetail so it would be just two 1" dovetails at each end of the slot. Basically I'm trying to avoid too many screw holes in the bracket.
I just had an idea how to attach the brackets to the wall. I can make a decorative plate, attach the bracket to the plate, attach the plate to the wall. That should spread forces around enough to be strong.
Thanks for the tips so far!
- Owen -
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Turns out my ISP will have to incurr additional charges to carry the binary newsgroup. He has a special feed and has offered to download/forward pictures to me if I tell him which ones, but instead, would you mind e-mailing to me? You should be able to reach me by changing my username to my first name, all lower case. Thanks.
- Owen -
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On Fri, 21 Oct 2005 15:24:20 -0400, "Owen Lawrence"

owen- if you have web access, the pictures are available here: http://www.delorie.com/wood/abpw /
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Hey, thanks, that's perfect. And Steve, you're right, those are nice. I sure wish my walls were that thick!
How thick are those sills? Looks thicker than what I'm facing for my own. And that's not just a roundover on the edges, either, since the edges are still there. Is that an external bull-nose? I like how it looks and I'd be willing to buy a new bit to get the same look. The way you extended the wood past the opening is the kind of thing I have been thinking about.
- Owen -
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Basic 2x6 construction. The F-er's at the lumber yard mis-ordered my windows and gave me 2x4 jams. I had to build them all out 2" (It was october in Northern NY and waiting to have them reorder them seemed like a bad idea).

1" - exactly, milled from 5/4 stock.
And that's not just a roundover on the edges, either, since the edges

Yes... I did it with a 3/4" radius roundover with a pilot baring. It's a big honk'n bit and it's a tad pricey but I use it all the time... generally to put a bullnose on stuff. In theory you have to leave a flat section of middle on which the baring rides but in practice, a tiny flat vanishes with minimal sanding,
> I like how it looks and

Good. I sounds like I helped you visualize something you like.
Cheers,
Steve
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