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I'm building shelves with some reclaimed wood. The "design" is very simple. See the photo, which is a quick setup of the cut wood. I will align things better in the end. They are 11"x3" Douglas Fir Joists. The issue I'm worried about is how to get these levels to be balanced and straight. There will be 5 of the horizontal planks and four of the verticals between them.

So if there are some vertical planks that were cut slightly off (angle), how can I correct it or make up for that missing space? Especially if it's very slight? Is there a trick? Use a wedge? Thing about a wedge, they're usually too thick. Also might be too soft??? Any ideas would be much appreciated.

The next issue is how to fasten these together. I was thinking either a T or L or I shaped plate fastened with screws, behind the shelf? What do you think?

Thanks in advance for any input of finishing these shelves.
 

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where's my table saw?
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that's a weak design

The stacked shelves and dividers offer little structure and will have to rely entirely on the connection between them for resistance against racking. Also those planks are huge and will have some momentum if pushed and will want to keep moving.
The look is great, but you will need substantial brackets or angles to secure them. A back will help or diagonal rods or braces of some sort.
A rectangle will fold over easily, where a triangle is structural. Bridges are made with triangles in the trusses, not rectangles.
 

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Thanks woodnthings, that's a good point. Not sure it will start to lean, if that's what you mean by racking, since the foot of the verticals is wide enough to be sturdy. Though I will try to bracket it as you've mentioned. If not a diagonal, then maybe I can mount it into the wall. I'm thinking some piping from the top that curves 90 degrees into the wall behind it......???

As for building it straight, any ideas of balancing the pieces (to create right angles) if they're not flush? Some wood chips wedged into the space? Not sure what to do that will be sturdy and will last. If I'm not clear I can post an illustration of what I mean.

Thanks.
 

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where's my table saw?
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If you can ....

Make a drilling jig and drill 3/4" holes through the shelves and into the sides both top and bottom. Aligning the holes is the tricky part, but a drill jig will work. You can then insert dowels or pipes in the holes and start stacking them one on the other. The holes need only be 3 or 4" deep into the sides...a wild arse guess on my part, but keeping with the size of the stock which is "beefy" :yes:

No braces will show, as I think that is your intent? :blink:
 

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You could install long through dowels connecting the shelf to the verticals. Make a pattern as a template for placing the holes.That may help some. To retain the rustic look, adding gussets may not be visually appealing. If you screw down the shelf to the vertical below it, and screw up into the vertical above it (at an angle), with substantially large screws (not pocket screws), that would give some rigidity.

If the unit will be free standing, you could use brackets similar to this, on the back edges. Of course, adding a full back, and/or mounting it to the wall would be optimum. Unless there is a large difference in level, I wouldn't concern myself with wedges or shims.






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Here is my suggestion. Use lag screws and washers through the bottom of the first shelf into the first uprights. Then, countersink for lag screws through the second shelf and into the first uprights. Then, make holes for dowel pegs into the second shelf so the dowels stick up and receive the next uprights. Once you slide the uprights onto the dowels, add the next shelf and again countersink and attach lags into the uprights. Keep doing this until you get to the top.

As an addition, I would attach a piece of 2" x 1/8" iron bar stock to the back of each upright stack for additional holding power. There is a remote possibility that the whole thing could rock due to no diagonal support, but I think it would be minimal.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks for all the suggestions, they're really helping.

So the attached image is what I'm thinking, based on the advice. After that I can still add some braces on the back.

I'm still thinking of attaching it to the wall with pipes at the top. It probably won't tip since it'll be very heavy, but it might be worth it anyway. Besides, I like the idea, aesthetically.

Not sure what you mean by 2" x 1/8" bar. Do you have a link?

Keep in mind - unless it's already obvious, I'm a novice. I lack experience, tools and space. So I'm trying to keep things relatively simple for this project. Maybe down the line I can try other things...

THANKS!
 

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I did a google search for a reference for you. Here is a picture and description on Amazon.

STEELWORKS BOLTMASTER 11662 FLAT STEEL BAR 1/8"x2"x36" - Amazon.com

If you have a farm supply store near you, they should carry it. A welding shop or metal supply company should also carry it. Lumber stores like Menards and Home Depot have some sizes, but I don't remember if they have this. You could go with a narrower or 2 shorter pieces. You will have to use a 3/16" drill bit to drill pilot holes in the bar stock, then make countersink indents with a 5/16" or 3/8" bit for the screws to go into.

Here is one more link to give you a range of metal stock you can get.

http://www.metalsdepot.com/products/hrsteel2.phtml?page=expanded

Oh, as for shimming under the uprights to keep the stack going straight....the simplest shims are from cereal boxes, tag board, vinyl flooring scraps, thin plywood, and real shims. When I did finish carpentry I had a tote box with dividers to hold all of these materials.
 

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Thanks for all the suggestions, they're really helping.

So the attached image is what I'm thinking, based on the advice. After that I can still add some braces on the back.

I'm still thinking of attaching it to the wall with pipes at the top. It probably won't tip since it'll be very heavy, but it might be worth it anyway. Besides, I like the idea, aesthetically.

Not sure what you mean by 2" x 1/8" bar. Do you have a link?

Keep in mind - unless it's already obvious, I'm a novice. I lack experience, tools and space. So I'm trying to keep things relatively simple for this project. Maybe down the line I can try other things...

THANKS!
Rather than shimming why not scribe the uprights to the shelf boards, with a lag bolt as shown each section would be very stable and require minimum bracing to keep it from racking.

I would definitely attach a shelf that heavy to the wall.
 

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Tipping is not the issue. Racking is the issue. The base would stay put but from there up it would tilt/bend. Why not put a plywood back on it? It would solve the racking problem and also keep your wall from getting dinged up when you put things on the shelf. It doesn't have to be thick plywood. Even something as thin as paneling would do the trick. At least put some 45 degree gussets in each corner of the back. Like maybe 6" x 6".

As far as making the cuts square, how will you be cutting them? A handsaw? If so, the best you can do is draw a line with a square and follow it as best you can. If you are using a circular saw, put a square on the shelf board, then clamp a 1 x anything against the square in the right spot so you can put the saw base against it while you make the cut.
 
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