Refacing Kitchen Cabinets: Adding End Shelves - Planning, Designing, Cutting - Part 2 of 6
by Jim Mallery
Face Your Kitchen Columnist
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed some basic supplies and decisions needed to begin building end shelves for your kitchen cabinets. Now it's time to make some design decisions and put the wood to the saw.
Planning, Designing and Cutting Your End Shelf
- Style. You can build separate shelves that attach individually to the cabinet, or your can build a freestanding unit with a side and back panel and the shelves mounted inside. A freestanding unit mounts to the end of the cabinets as if it were another cabinet. This style is sturdier than individual shelves and is recommended if you are likely to put cookbooks or other heavy items on the shelf. If you do build the shelves as a unit and you have crown molding along the top of your cabinets, framing to the top of the unit to match the stiles of your cabinet allows you to continue the crown around the top of the shelf unit.
- How many? Usually you will see three end shelves at the end of a run of cabinets. You also may have room for cabinet end shelves at the sink end of the cabinets, and a shelf across the top of your window at the sink.
- Shape. Usually you will want to round off the corner of the shelf, rather than leave a sharp 90-degree corner. You can go with any radius you please, though a radius that is half the width of the shelf is most common. Make some cardboard cutouts to test various shapes if you're not sure.
- Cut wood. Now it's time to put the wood to the blade. On your table saw (or radial-arm), cut the rectangle of your shelf from your plywood. You are going to want the grain of the wood to run lengthwise with the shelf. And make sure the best side of the wood will be showing when the shelves are mounted--the best side should be up for the bottom shelf, but it should be on the bottom of the top shelf. For the middle shelf, either the top or bottom may be more visible, depending on just how high you mount the shelf.
- Curves. With a compass, lightly draw your curve. Then put masking tape over the line, and redraw. The tape will reduce the chance of splintering from the saw blade. With your saber saw (or band saw, if you have one), rough-cut the curve, about 1/8 inch from the line. Remove the tape, and with a 10-inch sanding disk on your saw, (or using a table sander), slowly sand down the curve to the line. Place the shelf on the table of the saw so that it is just barely touching the disk, and slowly rotate the wood. A deft touch will give you a near-perfect curve.
This gets your shelf shaped, but you still have a ways to go. In Part 3 of this six-part series, we'll discuss how to finish the end shelf.
About the Author
Jim Mallery, a semi-retired journalist and onetime registered contractor, has extensive experience remodeling, repairing and rebuilding homes.
To find a kitchen expert now,
call toll-free: 1-855-652-9016