A shoe rack… finally finished

Sometime last winter I had decided that it was time to replace the ugly cheap shoe cubes that sit in the mud room.  I figured that I could build a quick set of shoe racks that would last until I decided to eventually renovate the mud room.  Of course I started the project, and then other things came up and I didn’t finish (yes, I’m good at starting projects, a little less good at finishing them).

Shoe Rack Completed
Completed project after second coat of varnish

So the project sat in the basement until this week.  Partially completed.  I had milled the lumber out of scrap red oak.  Of course the shop isn’t heated in the winter, so I did rush and didn’t really spend much time picking out the wood for the project.  The pile of red oak I have isn’t the nicest wood.

It was a pretty hasty construction.  The rails and stretchers are attached to the legs using pocket hole screws.  The slats are just glued to the supports.  All the stretchers, rails and slats were milled to 1/2″ thickness, and some small details were routed into the legs.

So what do I not like about the shoe rack?  Several things.  I would debate remaking the whole project if it weren’t temporary, but it is better than what I have, and I have lots of other projects to work on.

Slats attached to stretcher

From a design standpoint, I don’t like the supports for the slats.   The stretchers are attached in the middle of the leg, so to get a gluing surface I milled a 3/4″ square piece of oak and cut a dado into the legs to support the support.  Then the slats were glued to the surface. No end grain gluing, so it is pretty strong…. We’ll see if it fails over the next couple of years.  I think I would make the shelves similar to a door, using rails and stile construction, and then just sliding the shelves into the dados.

The other design change would be to make the shelf slats out of thicker material.  The 1/2″ oak is feels a little too flimsy across the span.  Maybe mill it to 5/8″ vice 1/2″.

I think also changing from pocket hole screws to mortise and tenon joints would look much nicer.  Maybe I’m still afraid a little to try my own mortise and tenon joints.

Pocket Hole Joinery

From a construction standpoint?  I made several mistakes.  First, I should have spent more time looking through the lumber stack to find better wood .  Look at the picture on the left and see the big knot in the leg.

I also cut one of the slats the wrong length… I felt too lazy to mill another part and get it to the right length.  Of course it was cut too short.  I could have shortened the rest of the slats, but didn’t think that would look good.

I should have constructed the frame, and then attached the lower shelves first.  That would have ensured that the frame was square (there is no front stretcher to ensure that).  It turns out that the front is maybe 1/16″ wider than the back.

I didn’t spend much time finishing the project.  It is only going to have shoes put on it… and will eventually be replaced with something more permanent when I redo that room.  I should have given myself one more night to sand the slats before gluing them on.  My planer still makes little ridges on the surface (I think one blade is the wrong height – I really should check it before the next project).  The oak isn’t the straightest grain, so I did get tear out.  Maybe this is an area where a drum sander to take the boards to the final thickness would help.

I did a single coat of shellac followed by two coats of wiping varnish. Maybe I should add a third coat tomorrow night, at least to the visible parts.

What is the next project?  I think a quick set of outside benches out of 2x4s for next to the fire pit.  Another nice project I can cheat with pocket hole screws.  I still think I need to make a storage shelf for the study/guest room.   And bunk beds for the boys.  On top of that lots of house projects to finish.

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