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 In Tricks of the Trade

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For small cabinets, I prefer to use small, discreet shelf pins that I make myself. I also make sleeves for the pins to fit into. Sleeves help hold the pins firmly in place.

I make the pins from 1/16″ brass rod and the sleeves from 1/16″ i.d. brass tubing. Both of these are available at most hardware stores.

You can cut both parts on your tablesaw using a cutoff jig. (This brass is very soft, so it won’t damage the teeth of a carbide blade.) The jig is a block with two holes drilled through it—one to fit the rod and one to fit the tubing.

Loosely clamp the jig to a crosscut sled. Position the jig so that the pins will be cut to the correct length and clamp it tight. Insert the rod into its hole so that the end of the rod is flush with the right-hand side of the jig. Cut all of the pins—four for each shelf.

To cut the sleeves, insert the tubing into its hole. Reposition the jig in order to cut the sleeves to the correct length. It’s important that the tubing be fully supported on both sides of the saw kerf; otherwise, the tubing may be crushed or distorted by the blade. Cut one sleeve for each hole in the cabinet. After installing the sleeves, file or sand them flat. –Richard Helgeson

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