Wow this is great! I really appreciate the spoiler in effort to help me out. I love this idea and I think I need to start taking the time to make the jigs to accomplish techniques like this.
Last night I decided to practice making mortises again and I was successful in making straight, perfect 1/4" mortises. My earlier problems were with my clamps. I was only using 1 clamp to hold my fence and it wasn't stable enough and caused it to still move while riding the router along it. Two clamps solved that problem. The setup for each mortise takes a while but a little bit of patience goes along way (this is something I'm learning as I increase my skills).
That being said, now I'm wondering if I switch to a stop dado. I like the look yours gives. I'd have to rip my shelves down since they are perfectly the same width as the rails at the moment.
One question, you said 'The front of the shelves were rounded to match the dados. It was not necessary, but this is a special project and I wanted it to look "real perty".' ... If you didn't round over the shelves, would you have used a chisel to square up the rounded dados on the rails?
Answering the direct question first:
I had not really thought about alternatives to rounding over the shelves. In my mind, I had always designed it with the rounded fronts on the shelves to match the routed dados. If you look at the overall design, you will see other rounded elements that unify the whole.
Here are some alternatives for you:
* Don't do anything and leave the mismatch. I wonder whether anyone would notice.
* Chisel the dados as you suggest to match the square shelves.
* Instead of rounding, chamfer the front of the shelves with a tilted blade on the table saw as a close approximation to the round dado - quick and easy. Tilt the blade, cut one chamfer, flip the board, and cut the other chamfer. Leave the front "face" flat.
* Notch the ends on the front of the shelves, thus covering the front of the dados, like a tenon/mortise. If you do that, you wouldn't have to rip the shelves down. The shelves could still "match the rails." You could notch the ends with the miter gauge or a miter fence on the table saw. Hold the shelves up-and-down and pass the ends over the blade.
* Probably lots of other great ideas that I haven't thought of myself. I hope that others jump in and offer more suggestions.
I used a router table to round off the fronts of the shelves on my design. If you use a roundover bearing bit without a router table, the top side will be correct, but then when you flip the board to do the other side, the bearing will go too far and the roundover will cut too deep on the second pass.
-> Don't leave knife sharp edges along the front of the shelves. Sand them, round them, chamfer them, use a hand plane, etc. but do something.
FYI: For other aspects of this project, I used a 1/16 inch roundover bit to get a consistent, uniform soft look and feel.
Are your shelves 1/4 inch thick? If so, will they flex under the weight of pool table balls? How will you keep the balls from rolling off?
We have a wood pool cue holder similar to your design. It was a gift, and it was cheaply made. The shelves for the balls are 3/4 inch thick, with a wide cove cut down the middle of each shelf to contain the balls. I used figure 8 calipers to measure the coves. The thickness of the coves in the middle is 1/2 inch. If I were making the same thing, I would make a cove cutting jig and use the table saw to cut the coves.