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Making a slatted shelf

I have done many pieces of furniture which have slatted shelves and they are very popular. Here are a few examples of ones that I have done.

Oak shoe storage cupboard
Oak cupboard with sliding doors and slatted shelves
Brown oak boot bench
Brown oak boot bench
Ash cupboard for storing shoes
Ash cupboard for storing shoes

They are really good for furniture where you want a shelf, but want to allow things on the shelf to breath or dry slightly. The examples above were all intended to hold shoes or boots.

They look fairly simple to make (but are really not!). There are quite a few things to consider when designing and making one.

- Lots of slats means lots of work! Each slat has to be cut, sanded jointed to the front and back and then glued into place. Lots of slats makes for lots of work!

- Making the gaps between the slats the same is very important. I use a Festool domino jointer and 4x20mm dominos to joint the slats to the front and back. This makes the layout of the slats easier and also the glue up should be easier. Although if you have 30 odd slats to glue to make one shelf, this is 60 dominos and requires some effort to get them all in place before the glue sets.

- The layout of the slats requires some though. Make the gaps about 8-10mm and the slats a minimum of 20mm wide (a 4mm domino is about 17mm wide). Then get out your calculator (or spreadsheet) and try to work out the layout. Adjust the gap at the ends and the number of slats so that you can make the gap between the slats a precise amount which you can easily mark out.

- If your wood is heavily grained, then you need to carefully layout your slats as you have cut them to try to get the grain flow to happen once the slat are assembled. Not easy if the shelf is wide because the slats will clearly come from many pieces of wood. Better to choose a straight grain piece of wood where you won't have to worry about grain matching.


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