Bow Shelves

BowShelvesDelicate ‘hyperparabolas ’ hang on a curve – then  hang ‘magically’ on the wall.

by Bruce Winterbon
pages 48-52

When I saw a photo of a set of three rectangular shelves supported by a bow near each end, my reaction was that the bows deserved better shelves. These shelves are the result.

The shelves are seemingly floating on the wall with no visible means of support, so I’ll quickly explain the “tricks.” The backs of the shelves are supported by French cleats. The bow is made from bent laminations. The upright – the “bowstring” – is notched to fit over each cleat, and a slot is cut in each shelf to fit around it. Each joint – shelf to bow and bow to upright – is pinned with a short piece of 1⁄8″ drill rod or steel rod from the home center.

The tops of the shelves are at about eye level, so it’s pointless to use highly figured wood; all you see are the edges. I’ve used both ash and cherry to make sets of bow shelves. Shown here in the step photos is cherry; the opening photo is a set of ash shelves.

These shelves are intended to display treasures, not to hold a printed encyclopedia set. They are light, and I wanted them to look light. The shelves are thick at the back to accommodate the French cleats, and thin at the front to lighten the appearance. The upright “string” at the back needs some strength, especially where it is notched to rest on the cleats. Its front edge is rounded. The bow needs to be wide at the ends to go around the upright, but narrow at the center. Everything but the shelf backs and upright are curved, and all the visible edges are rounded.

Pattern: Download PDF patterns for the shelves. (to come)
Article: For another shelving take on hanging curves, read “Bent Laminations.” (to come)
Plan: Download the SketchUp model for this project from our SketchUp Warehouse. (to come)
In Our Store:Design & Techniques for Building Curvy Furniture,” a video by Jeff Miller.

From the February 2016 issue, #233
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