Leaning Wall Shelves Part 4: Cutting the boards

By Pinktoesandpowertools | Progress Posts

My Man just recently showed me how to cut with our his compound miter saw.  It was intimidating, but not as much as a circular saw is to me.  I now had the ability to cut boards, but not boards that are too wide.  My first attempts were not promising.  I could not get the boards to be the length I needed them to be.  That, my friends, is a big problem in the world of building. I’m pretty sure.

This second project turned out so much better.  This is what I did differently; maybe it will help you:

  • ALWAYS assume your boards come home with you NOT square.  Check the ends with your square and slice off a sliver to square them up.
  • Don’t use the laser.
  • Make sure whatever you are using to support your boards as you cut are the same height as the deck of your saw.  I use shoe boxes.  My Man tells me that two 2x4s on top of each other are the perfect height.
  • If you have boards that need to be the exact same length, cut one to perfection and use it as your ruler.  Make sure you use the same board each time–don’t switch as you cut them.  Match up the ends (run your finger across both until you can’t tell it’s two boards), mark your line, check that it’s square, and cut.
  • Know which side of the line you should be cutting on.  If you keep cutting the wrong side, make a “<” mark on the side of the line the blade should go on.
  • Cut as you go.  Don’t make all your cuts before you start the project.

I also bought a new blade–replacing the 40T blade with an 80T.  HUGE difference in cut quality.  No splintering on the back side of the cut anymore, but always go slow and smooth in your cutting motion because it can still slightly splinter with this blade as well.

Here are the boards for the bottom of the shelves.  I cut these at 22.5″:

Make two sets of these.

I used the Kreg Jig to connect the boards with pocket holes.  You can see that I had some problems with screws coming up through the bottom.  I don’t have this when joining at 90 degrees, but when joining flat pieces it’s a different story…  The end result turned out great since you don’t see these when stuff is on the shelf, so I’m happy.

Back of joined shelf showing pocket holes:

When you join boards in this way, make sure that the grain of the wood runs in opposite directions.  You can tell this by looking at the end of the board.  They should look like this:

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  • Top shelf is two 1x3s  joined to make 5″.
  • Middle shelf is the 1×10 to make a 9.25″ shelf.
  • Bottom is 4 1x4s joined to make 14″

If your shelves are visible from the floor, I would make the middle shelf joined boards as well.  Two 1x3s and one 1×4 would give you the correct depth for my modification. Mine will be elevated above viewing height.  I really like the joined-board look in the finished result, and to be honest, I only did that because it was the only way to get the graduated depths I needed without the plywood cutting Ana has in her plans.  But it was a bit of a pain with boards that are not perfectly straight to begin with.  Due to the cupping in the boards, the joined boards were not completely flat.  It was fixable once they were attached to the sides, but it required some patience to attach the sides.

Speaking of attaching the sides, that part comes next!