Need Help: Level out Joined Shelves - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 Old 09-04-2014, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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Need Help: Level out Joined Shelves

Hello all!

So, I started my first woodworking project with what I figured would be pretty easy: Creating some shelves by joining walnut boards together.

The shelves I needed were just under 12" deep and the boards I bought were 8", so I ripped them down to 6" halves , busted out my new router, and routed out a simple tongue and groove joint.

My problem arose from the fact that the boards were roughly, but not quite, an inch thick. I went with a 1/4" bit to route of the groove. It was fairly centered, but not exactly. Then, routing out the tongue was a bit harder than I had expected to get the precise 1/4" tongue in the center of the board.

Long story short: One board rests slightly higher than the other on each of my shelves. I need them to be level, as they are going to rest on a metal frame (I will route a groove out of the bottom of each to hold them in place on the frame).

So - I have a hand plane, but no desire to thoroughly screw up the wood or make it completely unlevel. I have access to a joiner and planer at a local community center, as well as a decent assortment of other tools.

Question: What's the best way to fix this? Do I attempt the hand plane and just slowly plane down the high board in strips until it's level(ish) with the low board? Can I use a jointer or power planer to accomplish this? Do I find someplace where I can get access to a big bandsaw and run each board down there twice?

Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

- Colin
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post #2 of 11 Old 09-04-2014, 04:26 PM
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Are they glued together now? How much are they offset by?

Dave in CT, USA
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post #3 of 11 Old 09-04-2014, 04:34 PM
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If one side is flat, I would run them through a planer. Forget that tongue and groove stuff. I would have edge glued and clamp the boards together.

Good luck.
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-04-2014, 04:40 PM
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if 1 side is flat, the job begins and ends at the planer. but if the pieces started the same thickness... I dont think this is your case.

So I would think some sort of sled for the planer, a flat sheet of plywood with a place for a shim that will compensate for the variance and let the shelf ride through "flat" (where the lower side is parallel to the planer blades and well supported to not deform under the rollers). Once 1 side is flat, flip it over without the sled and plane the other side.
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-04-2014, 10:39 PM
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Bauerback has the right idea, the planers going to be the best method to ensure flatness, if for no other reason than its the only tool wide enough to handle your 12 inch panels. If you have a decently long jointer plane then you could go at it with hand tools, but thatll take a very long time if youre anything like me...

Last note, if you have a router you may look into router thicknessing jigs. Easy enough to make with some mdf or similar and give results nearly as good as a thickness planer, if more labor intensive
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post #6 of 11 Old 09-05-2014, 07:22 AM
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Rather than planing the board down to perhaps 5/8" thick to flatten it you might trim the tongue off the board and run a groove on that edge to match the other one and put a spline in it.
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post #7 of 11 Old 09-05-2014, 09:50 PM
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If you can live with the shelf being narrower the width of the saw blade just rip them down the seam and glue them up again as a butt joint. Use some cawls to keep the two boards even when clamping.

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post #8 of 11 Old 09-05-2014, 10:06 PM Thread Starter
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Wow. Thanks for all the great advice! Apologies for not coming back here sooner, but I didn't see the thread updates in my email until just now.

I had 4 long (34") shelves glued up in the center from two panels tongue and groove.

I had 2 short (17") shelves glued in the same fashion.

I had 3 short (17") shelves glued up butcherblock style, made from the scrap trimmings of the above shelves.

Anyway - after a lot of googling, I found that my local Community Center has a fully stocked woodworking shop available for $20 a day. I headed down there and got everything fixed up by:

1) Passing everything through the jointer about a dozen times to get a fully flat surface (Some pieces more, some less)
2) Passing everything through the planer about 4 times to get a fully flat face
3) Running the sides through the jointer a few times to square
4) Table saw to true up the last edge
5) Miter saw everything down to final lengths

Honestly wish I knew about that shop a month ago, would've made my last project easier!

The guy at the woodshop ALSO said not to worry about doing a joint for the boards in the future, that the glue is more than strong enough on its own.

I spent a few hours routing out channels on the under-sides of my shelves tonight so they can sit on the crossbars of the ladder frame I'm using. A couple hours tomorrow sanding should finish everything up before I treat the wood. I'll be searching the forums in the afternoon to figure out the right progression of water to tung oil to use....

Wish me luck and thanks for all the advice!
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-05-2014, 10:07 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicfail48 View Post
Last note, if you have a router you may look into router thicknessing jigs. Easy enough to make with some mdf or similar and give results nearly as good as a thickness planer, if more labor intensive
I DO have a router and will definitely look into this for my next project. Thanks for the tip.
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-05-2014, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maylar View Post
Are they glued together now? How much are they offset by?
Offset was never more than, I'd say, 1/16"? Maybe a total of 1/8" variance at absolute worst from highest to lowest on the butcherblock style shelves.

Jointer and planer did the trick, but now I know to be a LOT more careful when clamping to make sure everything is flat on one side!
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post #11 of 11 Old 09-05-2014, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoamingEire View Post

The guy at the woodshop ALSO said not to worry about doing a joint for the boards in the future, that the glue is more than strong enough on its own.
He is probably right about the glue holding, but it the two boards don't have square and straight edges, they may not close up when you glue and clamp them. That can possibly leave an unsightly line or crack. I have only had one problem like that. I ripped the boards along that line, jointed and check each one and re-glued. Problem solved.

I think you found a gold mine for $20/day. Congrats.
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