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    Build a Small Shelf with Drawer: Part 2






    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    In Part 1 of my series on building a small cabinet with a drawer, I showed you how to cut the dovetail joinery for the case. Now I'll show you how to cut and fit the shelf, how to cut the rabbets for the back slats, and how to cut the profile on the top and bottom. Before moving forward though, make sure you've marked the parts and their orientation to one another. Even though this is a small piece, it's still easy to mix up the parts.

    And be sure to check back for Part 3. You'll learn how to glue up the case, and how to make the back slats and drawer.


    How to Make

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoes: With the sides, top, and bottom dry-assembled, measure and mark the location of the shelf dadoes in the sides.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Cut the Shelf Dadoes: The dadoes are pretty narrow, so you can use a combination blade for the job; you'll just have to make a couple of passes. Hold a side against the miter gauge and use the layout mark to align the blade. Once you have the position right, slide the tablesaw fence against the workpiece and lock it in place. This setup ensures that the dadoes in both sides are in the same spot. An alternative method is to use a stop block clamped to the miter gauge or the fence of a crosscut sled. **NOTE: Never use the rip fence as a stop block for cuts that that go all the way through a workpiece. This leads to a dangerous trapped cut.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Widen the Shelf Dadoes: After you've made the first pass, move the tablesaw's rip fence out to cut the dadoes to their finished width.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Measure for the Shelf Rabbets: Once again, dry-assemble the parts and clamp them together. Measure across the bottoms of the dadoes--that's the shelf length. Also take the inside measurement--that dimension marks the shoulders of the rabbets.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Cut the Shelf to Length: Now it's time to cut the shelf to length. Remember, your shelf length measurement is NOT equal to the width of the cabinet's interior, but rather, from the bottom of one dado, to the bottom of the other.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Mark Shelf for Rabbets: While holding the shelf against the cabinet sides, mark the shoulders of the rabbets, and their depth. To set the tablesaw's blade height, use a test piece the same thickness as the shelf (I used a cutoff).

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Transfer the Rabbet Depth to a Test Piece: Now transfer the rabbet depth to the test piece and raise the blade close to that mark. Make incremental cuts, test-fitting as you go.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Cut the Shelf Rabbets: Once you have the depth of cut dialed in for a snug fit, set up to cut the rabbets to width, using the shoulder marks as the guide. Hold the shelf against the miter gauge, align the blade with the marks, and clamp a stop block to the miter gauge. Cut the first shoulder, then rotate the workpiece end-for-end to cut the opposite shoulder. Slide the workpiece away from the stop block to finish the ends.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Cut Rabbets for Back Slats (Sides): The rabbets for the back slats are cut at the router table using a straight bit. Make the through-cuts in the sides first. It's a shallow cut, so you can make it in one pass. Just be sure to use a push block to prevent the workpiece from riding up.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Rabbet Top and Bottom for Back Slats (Mark for Cut): The rabbets in the top and bottom are stopped. Essentially, you want to rout between the dovetail slots. Keep the bit and fence just where they are. Align the workpiece so that the bit is hitting the inside edge of the dovetail slot, and mark that spot on the router-table fence. That's the starting point of the cut. Also mark the back corner of the workpiece on the fence. That will be the pivot point of the cut. Now move the workpiece down so the bit aligns with the inside edge of the other slot. Mark the fence there to indicate the stopping point.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Rabbet Top and Bottom for Slats - Start the Cut: Now you're ready to make the cuts. Register the back corner of the workpiece against the fence and then slowly pivot the workpiece so it aligns with the starting mark.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Cut Rabbets for Back Slats (Top and Bottom): Feed the workpiece forward until you reach the stop mark and then carefully pivot the workpiece away from the bit. Do the same for the other workpiece.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Cut Shelf to Final Width: Once the rabbets for the back slats are cut, you can rip the shelf to a precise width. Dry-assemble the case, slide the shelf in so that it's a hair proud at the front (you'll plane it later for a perfect flush fit), then mark for its width at the back. Rip it to size at the tablesaw.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Profile Edges of Top and Bottom (End Grain Cuts): The beveled edges on the top and bottom are cut at the router table using a chamfering bit. To set up the cut, use one of the test pieces you made for the joinery setup. Once you have the bit height and fence location dialed in, go to work on the real parts. Make the end-grain cuts first, using a backer block to support the work.

    Measure and Mark for Shelf Dadoesclick to enlarge

    Profile Edges of Top and Bottom (Edge Grain Cuts): The final passes along the long-grain edges will remove any tearout made during the end-grain cuts.



    Tom