I Can Do That: Contemporary Shelves


Construction lumber dressed up for display.
By Robert W. Lang
Pages: 28-29

From the November 2010 issue # 186
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For sturdy, attractive and affordable material to build these shelves, bypass the fancy stuff at the front of your local home center and head for the back where they keep the lumber intended for use as rafters and floor joists.

In my neighborhood the available wood is Southern yellow pine. In other parts of the country you might fi nd Douglas fir, spruce or another species. When logs are milled for construction lumber, this is where the good stuff goes.

Three 12′-long 2x12s will provide enough material to build the shelves as shown. You may have to cut them (or have them cut) to get them home, but longer lengths will be straighter and of better quality than short stuff. Pick through the stack and select the straightest, nicest looking pieces.

Look at the ends of the boards, and avoid any with a tight circle in the rings in the middle of the board, which tells you that the board came from the middle, or heart, of the tree. As the wood dries and shrinks, this is the most likely part to cup and split. These boards will likely be relatively damp, and you should expect some movement as they dry.

You can hasten the drying process by cutting the boards to rough lengths. Let them sit for a while to acclimate to your environment. The parts don’t need to be perfect for this project to be a success, but the straighter they are, the easier it will be to put your shelves together.

Plan: Download the free SketchUp plan for the Contemporary Shelves.
Articles: All the “I Can Do That” articles are online.
In our store: Read about flush-cut saws in the Autumn 2007 issue of Woodworking Magazine.


From the November 2010 issue # 186
Buy this issue now