Friday, October 21, 2011

Adjustable Shelf Supports--Eric Johnson's Furniture

Hello again,

Here is the blog that I have been meaning to write the past couple of weeks--the exciting world of adjustable shelf supports!

You all have seen them.  Simple little metal clips that have a round post on one end and a flat surface on the other.  You push the round post into a hole in each corner of the case and viola', adjustable shelf support.

ImagesWhen I started getting serious about building reproduction furniture, I quickly realized that this wasn’t acceptable. I looked for other ideas--preferably antique ideas.  I found a bookcase that was build in the early 1800’s that had a type of saw tooth cut into a board that was attached to the case sides.  There where four of them.  Two facing each other--front to back--on one side and a matching set on the other side.  In between was another board that fit into the saw tooth.  The shelf fit onto this board and then was adjusted to the desired spacing. 

Here was my answer; however, it looked quite time consuming to build.  In a fit of clarity, I happened upon the solution.  Now I am sure I did not invent this idea, but I did come up with it on my own. 

Shelf supports002

My solution is to take a board that is about a 1 ½” thick (you can glue two boards together if you would like) and about 3 ¼” wide by however long I need.  I then start about 6” from the bottom and drill a ¾” hole in the center of the board every 1 ½” along the length.  I use a paddle bit or a fostner bit in my drill press.  Don’t use a hand held drill for this.  Once I have this done, I can then re-saw it on my table saw and cut them in half through the center of the holes. I now have four individual pieces.  Before I cut them apart, I label them A,A B,B, as you can see in the drawing.  I then attach them to the case with A,A facing each other on one side and B,B on the other.  In between I make a 5/8” thick board to fit as a shelf support.  You can see this in the picture.

Bookcase adjustable shelfI have been making this type of shelf support for about 10 years and I am really happy with it.  It’s elegant, quick, works flawlessly and fits the style of furniture I build.  This is a small detail in the whole scheme of the piece but I feel it is an important detail in separating a custom furniture maker from a factory.  This type of adjustable shelf support will last 250 years as opposed to the factory way described earlier. 

If you would like to see a video demonstration of this or some of my other techniques, leave some feedback or send an email and I will think about working on some of those.

Until next week,

Campton, NH  03223

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