A young lass I’m trying to impress wants to make a rustic shelf to hold books. She wants it to look and function sort of like a small bench. In other words, there’s no casework involved. The shelf would rest on a metal frame on the floor.
Rather than buy a wide, somewhat expensive piece of hardwood with a live edge or two, we decided to source a reclaimed pine beam and find a way to resaw it down the middle. Our plan is to then edge join the two boards to form a wide shelf, leaving the outer edges rough for the desired character.
It won’t be quite the same rusticity as a live-edge piece, but I think it will look pretty good.
The only question remaining is how to successfully edge join the boards. They are going to be about 4 feet in length and maybe 2 inches thick. I have pointed out that planing the edges perfectly flat and square is super-important. Then we’ll need to choose either biscuit joinery or some other form of simple, solid edge joinery to bring the boards together.
When this question came up, the young lass I’m trying to impress asked me, “Can’t we just use some kind of metal cross-braces and screw them into the top and bottom of the shelf?”
I responded no. She asked me why not.
It was one of those moments when you want to say, “Just because.” I was caught in my own knowledge gap. I’ve always thought biscuit joinery and dowel joinery are the best options for simple edge work like this, but I was never told why. I also have assumed that metal cross-braces extending across the width of the board will cause the board to crack. (Wood expands mostly across its width.) But here again, I don’t know the facts and have never tried it myself.
What do you use for edge joinery on boards of this size? Have you ever tried metal cross-braces? How did that work out?
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