Life Advice #01

posted Nov 28, 2013, 7:08 PM by Paul Halliday   [ updated Oct 8, 2014, 1:14 PM ]
Befriend someone that owns a sawmill 

If you like to build things then knowing someone with a sawmill gives you endless opportunities for material. You can get custom wood sizes and more exotic wood species than what you will find at the local lumber yard. It is also significantly cheaper. 

As an example, I like to use Larch when I am building anything outside. Larch is one of the harder softwoods so it can be a little trickier to work with (you will need to pre drill any fasteners unless it is really wet) however it does have natural anti rot properties which makes it a great candidate for outside use. Most importantly, it hasn't been soaked in poisons that not only leach out of treated lumber but make it dangerous to your health every time you cut it.  

As it turns out, I like to build stuff. So much so that when I have a scrap of something leftover from other projects, I need to purpose it. It just so happens that after my last little project I had a few small pieces of Maple leftover that were begging to become more than a quick carbon release into the atmosphere.

The plan? Shelves for the living room! 

The chunk of maple you see below is 4" thick and 13" wide by about 8" deep. You won't find this at you local home depot. The bracket will be made from 3/16" steel angle. Once complete each shelf should easily hold 100 pounds or more. Total cost so far is under 5$ including the screws and the electricity to charge my drill.


Let's start with the brackets. While I am a fan of hidden brackets I usually go the semi hidden route because a) It is a little easier, and b) If done well can accent the finished piece. 

All I have done here is drill four holes and round the edges (just the exposed ones). 


I used the wet/dry sanding block afterwards to clean up the top portion of the bracket which will be visible. I could just as easily have painted them but I try to stay away from paints and other finishes unless I really need to use them.


Using a belt sander with 60 grit paper I knocked the band saw ridges off of the raw block. I then used a small round over router bit to ease the edges and lastly cleaned everything up with 120 grit on a random orbital palm sander. Using a table saw I cut 2 different depth notches in the back of the block to accommodate the thickness of the brackets and the screw heads. I could have just used a drill bit to make the reliefs for the screw heads but the saw was already spinning.


Man that was easy. Now I just need to find a stud and attach those brackets to the wall with the 4 3" deck screws (overkill but I have all kinds lying around)


Lastly, I pushed the block in and drove the 4 remaining screws through the top and bottom angles into the piece.



I am pretty happy with how they turned out.  For those that are curious, these were offcuts from a 12' x 2' slab that I paid around 70$ for.
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