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Making a simple piece of furniture can be a good starting point for a diy project. If you are new to furniture construction, you can attempt to remodel existing furniture before you try to self build your own from scratch. But on the other hand, if you have a fairly good grasp of the techniques of wood work, you can start by building a simple wall shelf.

You now need a detailed plan or diagram for your project. There are many good books and also a lot of websites on the Internet that provide detailed, step-by-step instructions to help you get started with your project. These resources also usually list the tools and other materials necessary to finish the project. So it is important to note down the items in the list and purchase them before starting your work.

Next, it is important to decide on the type of wood based on the kind of shelf that you intend to build. If the shelf is meant for storing light weight curios and other showcase items, you can go in for lighter wood materials. Whereas if the shelf is intended for heavier or more expensive items, then you might have to go for teak or other wood which would provide good support for the weight of the items on display.

Another factor that goes into determining the type of wood is the wood finish that you are looking for. If you are planning to paint the shelf after construction, you may not need to focus much on the type of grains in the wood. On the other hand, if you prefer to have a wood finish, you would need to select the wood with the right shade of color and wood grain patterns.

Different types of job require different tools and materials. Kitchen cabinets and bathroom cabinets need strong heat and damp proof construction. Simple storage boxes - a good place to start - can be made up of anything suitable. Outdoor patio furniture and storage boxes need to be stronger and weather proofed too. We will be adding articles on outdoor construction, such as seats, benches and sheds, soon.

Tables and chairs, and internal doors or external doors, will need accurate and level materials. They are in constant use and have to be very stable and well made. Accurate angles and a good work surface and working area are neeeded.

Also try built-in cupboards. These are not so tricky as the back and sides are made up of the existing walls. Don't forget to use a spirit level with all these jobs.

Built in cupboards

Left: Built in cupboards and shelving

So, before you start your actual construction, selecting the right kind of wood for your project is absolutely important. If you are new to diy construction, you also need to take extra precautions while handling tools - especially power tools. All tools have safety specifications and it is absolutely essential to adhere to all the safety rules diligently for your own safety.

Start by using a measuring tape to mark all the points on the wood where you need to cut the wood according to the dimensions specified on the diagram. You can use a dark pencil to mark the points and then use a hand saw or an electric saw to carefully cut the wood down to the right size. If the wood is light, you need to take care that you do not cut too close to the lines. You can leave a margin of around 1/8th inch and cut the wood and later sand the wood to the right dimension. This way, you would prevent over-shooting the mark and cutting your piece to a smaller dimension. Based on the number of racks, you can cut that many pieces for the horizontal planks. Then you need to cut two more for the vertical ends.

To join the horizontal planks with the vertical ones, you can use a simple butt joint for the middle racks and dovetail joints for the topmost and bottommost racks. You can apply glue to the surfaces of the joints before joining the pieces and then drive nails into both pieces to make the joints more strong. Finally, you can nail clamps to the board to enable the shelf to be hung from nails on a wall. Using this basic framework, you can then improvise on the design and come up with your own unique innovations.

See also our second article on Furniture & patio furniture construction >

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