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Swedish Wall Shelf

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Swedish Wall Shelf

By Dave Munkittrick

Here’s a charming shelf that’s small enough to fit on any wall and can be built in an afternoon. It makes a great gift and it’s easy to make a bunch all at once. While the design is based on a 19th-century Swedish-American clock shelf, its use today is limited only by your imagination. Kitchen spice shelf, photo display shelf, knickknack shelf—it’s great for just about anything, except maybe encyclopedias!

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Trace the outline of your template onto the wood. Take advantage of grain patterns around knots that follow the shape of your piece.

Click on any image to view a larger version.



Cut out the pieces on the scroll saw. For tight inside corners like this use what’s called a “zero-radius” turn. Here’s how to do it: Cut all the way into the corner, then rotate the piece around the blade by letting the teeth slowly nibble away as you complete the turn. If you’ve never done a zeroradius turn before you can always make relief cuts into the corners to give your blade more room.



Outline the shelf brackets onto the back of the wall panel. This will show you exactly where to drill the pilot holes for the screws.



Drill and countersink pilot holes through the back panel and into the shelf brackets. Use a second clamp to hold the assembly onto your workbench. Use a square to help guide your drill and place the holes where the brackets are widest.



Nail the top to the brackets with 3d finish nails. Use a small hammer and tap (don’t drive) the nail into the bracket. Use a nail set to countersink the nail heads.



Clamp the valance onto the underside of the top with spring clamps. Use a thin bead of glue to minimize squeeze out. A damp cloth can be used to wipe away any excess glue before it sets.


This story previously appeared in American Woodworker February 2000, Issue #78.