I enjoy home projects, particularly woodworking. It is a hobby I picked up after owning a house and came out of necessity (I don’t like paying people to fix things for me if I can avoid it).
From small items, like making a wooden Hex sign out of my daughter’s art project (now hanging off our shed) to larger ones, like making an Adirondak chair set for the sun deck or remodeling a bathroom, they each allow me to think, plan, and innovate as I go. I’m not real big on following step-by-step instructions, enjoying instead to build as I go with an end vision in mind.
So my wife has wanted a serving area/shelf that we could put two stools under in our kitchen below a window. We have limited seating and counter space, and now that the kids art table has finally been moved out (we had it for nearly 9 years and neither could really fit in the seats anymore) we had the space to install it.
First I got a reading on what she really wanted. Then I took some measurements and decided I didn’t want to come out from the wall more than 14” to keep a trim profile. The height would
be based on one quarter inch below the window trim. The width I determined by guestimating a comfortable amount of space for two people to sit and eat side by side – this became 48”. Finally, I noticed our base board heater ran the length of the wall, so I’d have to design something that mounted to the wall itself.
I quickly determined where the studs were based on wall pops and a stud detector to confirm. With this information, I had what I needed to begin to figure out to construct my serving/eating shelf.
Whenever I or my wife see an item we like that I might want to build in the future we tear it out of the magazine or print it out and I put them aside. I also occasionally pick up American Woodworker and keep many projects and tips. This is my library. I set out to the garage with my measurements and started to flip through all the articles and photos. I found an island from a wine magazine and knew I found the support structure for the back I wanted.
I drew up the idea on a piece of paper and noted measurements for each. Then determined which woods should be used for each part. We were painting, not staining, so I wasn’t as concerned with the type of wood. With my drawing complete, I set out to Home Depot and after digging through pallets worth of wood to find a few flat, curveless pieces I was set to begin.
I used 2x4’s to serve as the legs and main cross
support. After cutting the legs to size, I notched out ½” from each side of one top, then aligned the legs with the cross piece and cut out a notch so the legs slotted into the cross piece. I glued and shot some nails to attach the legs to the cross beam then used wood putty to fill the gaps on the front and back.
I next cut a curved piece to serve as the end cap from plywood. With the end cap complete, I cut smaller curves that sat inside for added support. These were glued and nailed to the cross piece.
With the legs, crosspiece, and endpieces in place, I was able to set the top on. The top was glued to the inset curved pieces and crosspiece. I also should note I sunk the plywood top one quarter of inch.
Across the front, I measured the width and cut a 3” pine board to length. I checked the curve of the side piece and marked where I should begin cross cutting the front. I decided to go with a straight angle on the bottom and rounded on the top and sides.
I used a router with a ½” round bit across the top and along both sides.
After sanding, I attached the front piece using glue only, as I didn’t want to show any nail heads. For good measure, I used a 90 degree curved metal piece and used small screws to attach the top to the front piece in the inside middle.
Final sanding of the entire piece was followed by painting. One more stop to Home Depot for my
wife to pick the color tile she wanted. I had decided doing tile work would take too long and I didn’t have a water cutter (would have to borrow one from a friend) so we used the stick-on linoleum floor tile. I could score these with a knife to cut to size and they were simple to use.
Last step was the hardest – getting the piece mounted to the wall. Ultimately I used deck screws into wall studs. Feels pretty solid and I haven’t yet heard a big crash!
Entire project took two days of wood working, an afternoon painting, and a few hours mounting (had to be level, you know).