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Monday, February 18, 2013

Oh, just shelve it...

With the snow on Saturday, I finally get back to work on the west wall...

We had planned the cases on this wall to be primarily media cases - to house our CDs, DVDs, etc. So the shelf spacing is a bit closer (9 inches) to allow just enough height for the media, while still allowing us to pack 'em all in.
This meant more shelves per unit, which meant more cuts, and more dadoes, more glue and overall more weight. You can see this by comparing the window unit on the right to the new media units on the left in the opening photo.

I ripped the 4x8 sheets of sand-grade plywood in half to 2x8 foot sections. I then measured, marked and dadoed each resulting 2x8 section before then again butterflying them into 11.75 x 8 foot sections. I've done this throughout the project to create both left and right uprights with identically spaced dado cuts so the shelves are perfectly square to each other. Doing this to just one 4x8 plywood sheet gives me 4 uprights, enough for two bookcases. Other 4x8 sheets are then ripped down to 11.75 x 8 foot sections to provide the actual shelves, each being .75 inches longer than the needed inside case width to allow them to set into the 3/8th dadoes. I was able to build the last two standing cases Saturday morning, allowing the glue-up to set over lunch, then coming back, installing mounting cleats and mounting them to the wall.
Easy peasy, right? Well, not so fast...
Before mounting these, I had a bit of electrical work to do first. We wanted to create a switched receptacle above the height of the bookcases in order to run some indirect strip lighting above the bookcases later. This meant I needed to pigtail a new line off of an existing baseboard outlet, then cut a hole in the wallboard at switch height, then finally, another hole just above the bookcase height to place the new outlets.
I didn't make any photos of cutting the holes and running the wires, but it was pretty straightforward stuff - until I hit an unexpected fireblock between the studs I was running the wiring thru. Turns out, after looking up the inside of the wall with a little mirror and flashlight, I found the fireblock had a gap in it that I could just fish the wire thru after a few attempts.
I've highlited the areas involved. The lower outlet is where I pigtailed new wiring
from, going up to a newly installed switch, then up to the new outlet at the ceiling
With so many shelves on the media units, and knowing I was placing the switch into a unit's shelf, I needed to first build, then temporarily put at least one case in place, so I knew where the new switch should be (before cutting a hole into the wall!). Here's where I eventually placed the switch within the bookcase:

While it would have been more finished to have placed the switch on
an end-panel, we're fine with this "hidden" approach, as we didn't want to
make any of the switch relocations complicated multi-day affairs, aka KISS.

Then it was just a matter of running additional Romex wiring up to the new outlet at ceiling height, installing that box and receptacle, and closing it all in:

Yeah, I've never seen an outlet up at the ceiling before either!

I moved the new switch over laterally on the wall from
the outlet, to fit within the bookcase. Its a good thing
the stud spacing allowed this shift.

After installing all the new wiring and fixtures, I was ready to assemble the 2nd bookcase for that wall, when I found I couldn't get some of the shelves to properly fit into the Dadoes. Now, I had already glued up the edges on the first couple of shelves that DID fit, when I ran into some that would not. Knowing that the glue starts to set up in 10 minutes or so, I had some quick thinking to do. Instead, I just got a bit frantic trying to figure out what was going on before. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, as Pillion came to the rescue and discovered that almost half of the shelves for the second unit were a full 3/4 inches, instead of 23/32nds, so they would NEVER have fit into the 23/32nds dadoes.
Seems that along the way, just one of the plywood panels we purchased was a full 3/4 thick, even though it was clearly stamped 23/32 on the back of the panel (thanks for that, Home Depot).
Sooooo, time to quickly disassemble what I had, messily wipe up all the glue installed thus far and reassess.
Thankfully, I did have a 3/4 Router bit on-hand, so I decided to make the risky move of re-routing enough of the 23/32 dadoes in the uprights up to 3/4 for the number of oversized shelves I had. Since the uprights were no longer one-peice, I had to make sure they were perfectly aligned and clamped down before re-cutting within the same dado track. If anything moved at all, I'd have buggered the dado and would have to make new uprights from scratch. I was able to lock the two uprights together side-by-side on my makeshift router bench by sliding some shelf scraps across both halves, into a few exisiting dado's, to lock them together in perfect register, clamped it all down firmly, and re-cut the needed number of new dadoes with the wider bit. It all worked out perfectly:

Here are the two new media cases, completely assembled, glued up, cleated,
attached to each other, and mounted to the wall.

When you do things yourself, and for the first time, you're bound to run into interesting challenges like this. The trick is to remain calm, slow down and back off, reassess the situation, and come up with a creative solution. 
I did NONE of those things. 

But my wife did, and after she was able to discover what was going on, I was able to come up with a plan. And luckily for me, it all worked out. In the end, its all low risk - the worse that would have happened is I would have had to have re-built new cases from scratch, hardly the end of the world, as these have actually been a joy to build as I've gone along. And a lesson on how nice it is to not be doing something completely on your own.
Next step: to build the shelf unit that will go over the french doors, knowing that the plywood I have left over to use for building this is actually 3/4, NOT 23/32nds!

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