Building shelves

wandplus

Limp Gawd
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Jan 14, 2020
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131
I don't know if this will fit in this forum but in any case I'll try. I want to build shelves with 2"x3" studs and 1"x10" boards. So I was wondering should I use #8 screws on the side of the 2"x3" studs into the 2"x3" "brace". Should the screws and pilot holes both be about 2-3/4" or 3"?
And for screwing the 1" boards on the 2"x3" "brace", should I use #6 screws with a length of 1-3/4" or 2"? I think I'll be using softwoods like pine and spruce so would the drill bits be about 3/32" for the #6 and 7/64" for the #8 screws?
 

Martin the Kiteboy

Weaksauce
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Nov 23, 2020
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71
I am assuming from the nature of the questions that you are new to woodwork. Therefore, I will infer that you do not expect this to look like a showpiece when done. You want a shelf to hold shit.

Having no formal training but having fabricobbled a lot of wooden doodads, in short you are on the right track. Screws and wood are surprisingly strong when fit together with care, making sure that there are no gaps and that everything is aligned and piloted.

So, that being said, basically what you are suggesting sounds decent. Use three screws per piece at the end of the boards. Pilot drill to be smaller than thread size. Screws just short enough no to pierce through.
 

calebb

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If you add a dab of PL Premium (or other polyurethane construction adhesive) to each joint, the connections will be stronger than the wood itself.
 

wandplus

Limp Gawd
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Jan 14, 2020
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131
I hope this is going to work out. lol
I bought a Black & Decker drill and Black & Decker jigsaw. I also bought Paulin wood screws that are #8 x 2 inches and #8 by 3 inches. I watched a bunch of Youtube videos that don't show you how long your pilot hole has to be. Although one video showed the drill bit would surpass the first piece of wood and maybe like a 1/2 inch into the next board. Maybe I'll just ask store employees.
 

Martin the Kiteboy

Weaksauce
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Nov 23, 2020
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I have found piloting to full depth is not needed for most wood of the sort you sound to be using. Mostly that is because most piloting bits are not long enough for full depth anyway. However, piloting does wonders for clamp up and for getting the screw started.

I focus on this:

1) Use screws that have an unthreaded shank about as long as the depth of the first piece of wood. This help draw the first piece into the piece beneath it.
2) Likewise, I like having pilot holes fully through the first piece and a bit into the second. This guides the screw and helps with clamp up.
3) Clamp/press/squeeze your work together. With experience you learn to use your body, but even then clamping helps. For you, either get some clamps or have someone help you hold the piece together. I cannot stress enough how much this helps. Buy cheap clamps from Harbor Freight if this is a one off project. It is worth it.
4) As mentioned above, adhesives add a lot of strength. I sometimes don’t use them, since I feel like they are cheating in a way and can get messy. When done properly, glue and screws will hold while the substrate fails. However, adhesive will not help poor assembly or fix misalignment. Glue benefits from clamping even more than the assembly. Again: Buy some clamps.
 

wandplus

Limp Gawd
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Jan 14, 2020
Messages
131
I've looked into paint, primer and stain and didn't find either environmental or practical. So, if these shelves will stay indoors would it be safe to let the wood unpainted?
 

J Macker

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sure, it will just collect dust & oils like a mofo, and unfinished wood makes you look cheap & lazy. If the shelving doesn't share airspace with the kitchen where you're cooking, you'll probably be okay from oils sticking to the wood.
What room are these shelves being built? if it's the garage, you'll be okay without painting. Imo, a simple one-coat oil-based finish will prolong the lifespan significantly. It'll also help prevent discoloration over the years and make it look much nicer.
 

wandplus

Limp Gawd
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Jan 14, 2020
Messages
131
sure, it will just collect dust & oils like a mofo, and unfinished wood makes you look cheap & lazy. If the shelving doesn't share airspace with the kitchen where you're cooking, you'll probably be okay from oils sticking to the wood.
What room are these shelves being built? if it's the garage, you'll be okay without painting. Imo, a simple one-coat oil-based finish will prolong the lifespan significantly. It'll also help prevent discoloration over the years and make it look much nicer.
Finish as in stain or paint?
EDIT: I'm curious about water-based polyurethane right now, have to do more reading...
 
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J Macker

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sorry, I meant to suggest either an interior or exterior stain & finish combination (not paint).
It's really a matter of preference if you like the look of wood grains, or if you're using cheap wood, then you can just paint it.
Examples of water-based stain & sealer combination products:
https://www.lowes.com/pl/Water-base...atings-Paint/4294713162?refinement=4294696384
https://www.lowes.com/pl/Stain-seal...t/4294512270?refinement=4294683539,4294696384

There are many new products that have color pigments but are not paint and the wood grain still shows through.
Even if you don't want to use a stain, it is a good idea to apply a sealer to prevent the wood from drying out or absorbing excess moisture and splitting.
 

J Macker

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Have you considered using Tung oil as the finish? It's a natural substance and is easy to work with.
 

File

Gawd
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Oct 23, 2003
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914
I'm not a professional but I've put together some shelves, lamp, toddler bed, and a dresser using woodworking. Some notes from my experience;

Pilot hole size I eyeball holding the drill bit parallel and center aligned in front of the screw in question. Confirm that the threads of the screw extend beyond the drill bit, but the body is pretty much fully obscured. I drill pilot holes to a 1/8 short or deeper of the embedded screw length.

I have used two finishes i was happy with:
  • Lacquer (oil based?) - Gives a good enough surface finish without in-between coat sanding, hard, smooth, clear when all done. However it is difficult to find a work area that you can keep free of dust that could contaminate, probably causes brain cancer, and cleanup is a pain.
  • Feed-N-Wax (Bees wax and orange oil) - Easy to apply and difficult to make a mistake, tolerates a less than perfect work area during the finishing, safe. The surface is pretty close to untreated wood feeling, but it wont protect from scratches and such. I like this best really. Whatever the sanded surface felt like, it will feel like that. Mildly changes the appearance, sorta darkens the grain while leaving the other wood the same. Looks close to untreated, no gloss.
 
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wandplus

Limp Gawd
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Jan 14, 2020
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131
So I'm thinking about sanding and cutting the boards before painting (or actually staining in my case). Does that sound more realistic? I don't know if this is the best way of doing it but I was also planning on making the supporting studs or whatever you call them before then sliding the shelves sideways into place. Then I could screw them down to the supporting braces.
 

wandplus

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 14, 2020
Messages
131
premade will save a lot of time
Thanks for saying that after I bought the tools and some wood. lmao
Just kidding. In reality I could take time to get into the details but some of it has to do with wanting to avoid switches or electrical plugs on the walls etc. By building myself I can choose where to put the studs. And there's the overall dimensions as well (of things I want to put on the shelves). I also wanted to use two thick boards on one of the shelves for heavier things. And that's apart from the cost.

Overall it should be interesting for me unless it turns into a disaster. At least it will be a learning experience.
 

wandplus

Limp Gawd
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Jan 14, 2020
Messages
131
When I started this I did some calculations based on 2x3 boards etc. which I found out later were actually 1-1/2" x 2-1/2". At the time I thought I'd use 2 inch #8 screws for the shelf boards that were supposed to be 1 inch but really 3/4". I thought I'd want the screws to go thru the boards and into the supporting brace at least 1 inch. So the 2" screws I have would penetrate the 3/4" board with 1-1/4" depth. The 3" screws I bought would penetrate the 1-1/2" thick studs and go 1-1/2 inches into the supporting braces.
I found very little information on how long your pilot hole needs to be. And what I found I wasn't sure I could trust. I don't know what the actual standards are but I figured if a 2 inch screw goes in, I kind of prefer the pilot hole (at least in softwood like pine) would be only 1-1/2" so the screw would have 1/2" of firmer, tighter grip on the wood.
Since I bought #8 screws (because I read those are commonly use), I bought the recommended 7/64" size drill bit. However, the Milwaukee drill bit I bought only has a drilling depth of 1-1/4". This is not the end of the world because I purchased softwood anyway (so it may not crack).
If I did do this again though I think I might do it like this. I went on the Dewalt website and clicked on the drilling depths to figure out which size drill bits I'd get and then choose the corresponding screw sizes for softwood. Here it is, if I want a 2 inch screw and want a 1-1/2" pilot hole, on the Dewalt website their 7/64" drill bit would have a drilling depth of 1-1/2". So I would choose 2" #8 screws. And for 2-1/2" screws, I would want #14 screws for 5/32" drill bit and 2" drilling depth. In other words, for boards that are 1-1/2" thick and I'd want the screw to enter the next board by 1" (so total of 2-1/2").
The only drill bits that I found that are thin and long were for masonry. And those aren't recommended for wood.
 

noxqzs

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 2, 2013
Messages
244
I would suggest making a drawing with all your dimensions finalized before you start cutting the first piece of wood. Number one rule: measure twice, cut once. There is nothing worse than running out of material that is the right size. You will either make unwanted compromises or spend more money. Hand sketches are just as useful as CAD drawings. In either case, there are free solutions. Something like Fusion360 would be a good start and it would open up some doors for you as well. Practice drilling holes, countersinking and general torque setting on scrap pieces before putting final piece together.
 
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