Fitting Shelves in a Recess
Shelves may be fitted into a recess at the side of a fireplace by supporting the ends of the shelves on wooden battens as explained above. Alternatively where a neater appearance is required the shelves may be supported in wooden sides as illustrated below right. A suitable material for painted shelves is 6-in. by 1-in,; the ends of the shelves fit into a groove cut into the sides of the shelf supports. The width of the groove is the same as the thickness of the timber being used. This should be marked on the inside surfaces of the sides with a try-square.
A chisel, with the bevelled side inwards towards the waste part of the groove, is drawn along the blade of the square to form a shallow notch in the wood and this is done each side of the groove position. The edges of the groove are then cut through with a tenon-saw to a depth of 1/2 in., which should be marked on both edges of the side pieces with a marking gauge. The waste is then chopped out with a chisel. The wood chisel is held with the bevelled side of the end of the blade downwards and the handle struck gently with a mallet.
Only a small amount of wood should be removed at a time, and after cutting into one side the piece should be turned and the chisel used again, starting from the opposite edge. With the main part of the waste cut away, the position of the chisel should be reversed so that the flat side of the blade slides along the bottom of the groove to complete the removal of the waste. In the final stages only hand pressure on the chisel is required. The length of the shelf is then adjusted to allow for the thickness of the ends and according to the width of the recess.
The best method of assembling is to place the ends in position first, and slide the ends of the shelves into the grooves. The fit should be as tight as possible, but if there is any slackness between the backs of the sides and the wall, this may be taken up by nailing the ends into the wall. If this is necessary use 21-in. square brads and hammer the brads through the wood in between joints of the brick courses under the plaster.
The position of the joints may be determined by measuring from a window, where the courses are plainly visible, or they may be found by testing the wall surface by lightly driving a nail into the plaster. If firm resistance is met the nail is being driven into brick and it should be raised or lowered in. at a time until little resistance is encountered — which denotes that a mortar joint has been found. With one joint found it should be a simple matter to measure from this position to find other joints.
The ends at the side of the shelves rest on top of the lower shelf which is placed on top of the skirting-board. Recessed shelves may be neatened by fixing an underhung base as illustrated above right and framing the upper and lower shelves and the ends with 2-in. by 1-in. pieces of softwood. The top shelf can be improved by adding moulding at the back and sides. The moulding is secured withto the edges of the top shelf.
The joint described above is known as a ‘housed’ joint and it is used for making many simple articles of wood.
The appearance of the housed joint may be improved by ‘stopping’ it, which simply means that the groove is not cut right across the width of the side, but is stopped at the front edge. If this is done the shelf must be notched at the front corner so that edges of the side and the horizontal member are flush at the front. A stopped housing joint is illustrated in above right. It is marked out in the same way as described above by cutting a marking-line with the end of a chisel guided by the blade of a square. The end of the stop is marked on the face side of the wood; the waste at this end is removed with a brace and bit before cutting the sides with a tenon-saw. The waste is removed with a wood chisel, starting the removal of the waste with the bevel edge of the blade downwards and finishing with it uppermost.
If the shelves described above are fitted with an underhung base, and framed with 2-in. by 1-in. pieces of timber, it may be further improved by fitting doors to the framework to enclose all, or some, of the shelves. Although only a low shelf fitting is shown here, this may be extended upwards to fit more shelves for books, etc.