Fine woodworking is not really a “portable” activity. It is best done in a well stocked and correctly set-up workshop. Unfortunately we don’t have a designated space for the shop yet. And I probably won’t get one until a year or more. There are more pressing priorities for our home.

So what to do when shelves for the closet had to be made? Contractors have to deal with the portability issue all the time. Instead of stationery equipment that weighs a few hundred (to thousands) of pounds, they use handheld power saws, portable table saws, chop saws, etc. I only have a few of these tools, but I know how to make due with what I’ve got. For the shelving project, the only power tools I really needed was my cordless circular saw, cordless drill gun and a handheld router. The other essential tools included some squares (for guides), miter box, handheld saw, tape measure, and saw horses.

The shelves themselves only required a circular saw to cut. When ripping long pieces of plywood with a circular saw, it’s best to use a straight edge guide. I used a drywall T square, used for cutting drywall. It’s great because of its 4 ft length, easily enough of a guide to cut my 40″ shelves.

using drywall t

pic: setting up drywall T as cutting guide

The shelf rails required the most woodworking in this project. It needed to be routed on two sides with two separte bits, one a straight bit (to hold the shelf in place), and a roundover bit (or concave). First though, I needed to set up the router. Most (if not all routers these days), have the ability to mount to a work surface with just a few simple screws. I mounted my inexpensive router to a 1/2″ piece of plywood with a hole in the middle. The hole allows the router bit to protrude out, and the plywood is essentially a flat working surface for routing material (make sure the mounting screws are inset or countersunk into the work surface). The router set-up gets flipped over and attached to my temporary workbench (plywood sheet on 2 saw horses).

router setup

You can see the orange and black router underneath the plywood in the picture above. I set up the straight bit, and then used a straight piece of wood as a guide. Check straightness with a level or something similar.

router setup

pic: router bit protruding out from the hole in the plywood and the straight guide partially on top of the bit

After all the straight passes were finished, I did the same for the roundover side. Then with a miter box and a hand saw, I cut 45 degree angles in the ends of the rails. Remember the saying, “measure twice, cut once.” Only thing left is to prime and paint the rails and shelves. Be sure to prime all sides so the wood won’t be as affected by the changing humidity.

rails done