Kitchen shelves are finished and installed!

Posted: January 21st, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: excitement, kitchen, woodworking | Tags: | No Comments »

kitchen shelves

After a year of steady work, we’ve finally completed this huge shelf. Here it is on the work bench for the first coat of varnish.

kitchen shelf

After the varnish, we painted the shelf back blue to match the color of our kitchen walls, and screwed on the shelf back (it provides important structural support and makes it easier to hang the shelf.) And then both of my parents helped us to haul it up to Limington and hang it up!

kitchen shelf!

When we built the kitchen walls, we put sheets of 3/4″ plywood instead of strapping on top of the rigid foam insulation, under the blue board and plaster, all around the countertop areas where we expected to hang upper cabinets or shelving. So when it came time to hang the shelf, we didn’t have to wonder about where the strapping was, whether the screws would grab into wood or just plaster, whether the wall’s strong enough. We know the plaster is all backed with nice strong wood because we built it ourselves!

new open shelving

a l m o s t . . . there!

Posted: September 14th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, slow progress, woodworking | Tags: | No Comments »

working on the kitchen shelves
shelves on the workbench

we’ve finished assembly! sanded and planed, plugged the screw holes and we’re ready to varnish.

still working on shelves

Posted: August 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, slow progress, woodworking | Tags: | No Comments »

curved shelves
eliza working on the kitchen shelves
working on the kitchen shelves

pieces of our kitchen shelves

Posted: May 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, woodworking | Tags: | No Comments »

pieces of our kitchen shelves

We finished planing and gluing and cutting down all the wood for the shelves! We’re cutting grooves into the long boards to fit all the pieces together.

mike & router
mike with the router
kitchen shelves
fitting some pieces together

still working on the kitchen shelves

Posted: April 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, woodworking | Tags: | No Comments »

It is going to take us forever! we finished planing all the new wood and now Mike is sanding them all. I’m hand-planing the edges to get them nice and neat so we can glue the edges together. Once they’re all glued then we’ll start cutting them down to size.

mike sanding the butternut wood

planing, ready for edge gluing


Vermont road trip to buy wood

Posted: March 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: fun, kitchen, life, woodworking | Tags: | No Comments »

vermont Bretton Woods

vermont panorama


beautiful drive to Vermont and back

Monday was Presidents Day, so Mike had the day off from work and we made a kind of impulse decision to drive over to Vermont and buy some butternut wood! We needed some more butternut wood to finish our kitchen shelving project, and we were surprised to discover that none of the local hardwood lumber yards sells butternut! Turns out it’s not that popular. Mike took a look around the internet and found a place in Marshfield, VT called Vermont Wildwoods, that sells salvaged butternut wood – we didn’t realize that, sadly, butternut trees are suffering a blight that’s killing them off pretty quickly (similar to Dutch Elm disease that killed all the elm trees a few decades back). Vermont Wildwoods sells “irregular” butternut wood cut from the fallen and disease-killed trees, paying loggers to leave the healthy trees intact and instead salvage the wood from the fallen trees. The wood from these trees has interesting and irregular grain patterns, and the whole concept seems pretty cool. So, unable to work in the wood-shop since we’d run out of usable wood, we decided to take the day off and go fetch some more wood from Vermont. The trip was four hours heading due west, through Crawford Notch and the White Mountain National Forest, into the hills of Vermont. It was perfect and sunny out, and we got to check out lots of snowy peaks, cute little tourist towns, busy ski slopes, old farm houses and winding country roads along the way.
The guy from Vermont Wildwoods was super nice and helpful, letting us pick through a huge stack of butternut lumber to find the right planks for our job. It seems like he normally works with builders on big-scale architectural projects so he did a nice favor in letting us show up (on a holiday!) and dig through his wood for this little small-potatoes project. We took plenty of time to pick just the right pieces. My parents let us borrow their truck for the trip, so we had room to carry all the wood home. Now we’ve got this huge stack of wood waiting to be planed down, glued, sanded, cut up and assembled into our kitchen shelving!

butternut wood

our new wood!


Posted: January 27th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, woodworking | Tags: | 1 Comment »

Once we got into building the shelves, we found that the amateur sawmill job resulted in planks of varied thickness, no two the same, and some of them awfully thin. Our first task was to run each plank through the planer to smooth it down and plane away the high points and unevenness. You can only plane off a tiny little bit at a time, so you have to feed a plank through, shave off a wee little tiny bit, adjust the planer blades a little lower, and feed it through again, until the whole plank is smooth and uniform. It took a realllly long time! It would’ve gone a lot faster if all of the planks weren’t different sizes. But it’s pretty neat getting to use this salvaged wood.

mike at the planer
Mike at the planer
Here’s a before shot, showing the rough-sawn texture of the boards before planing.

rough board

And here’s the after shot, you can see the beautiful smooth boards after planing. The planer does the wide flat part of the board and we hand-plane the edge of every board.

smooth planed board

I got a lot of practice with the hand plane on this project! Richard has a beautiful collection of planes and he keeps them all nice and sharp, always. Some of them are hand-me-downs from my grandfather. The shiny new one was a recent birthday gift from my mom. I’ve watched more experienced carpenters work with planes and they make it look like magic, fast and easy, with beautiful long curls of shaved wood flying off to tangle on the floor. For me, it’s hard to keep the plane perfectly level and straight all the time, and if you aren’t careful it’s terribly easy to turn a nice neat edge into a very crooked, wobbly edge with just a few careless strokes. I move pretty slowly and carefully.


We’re going to edge-glue these planks to make the shelf 12″ deep. Most of the boards are only 6-10″ wide so we need to plane at least one edge of each board very very carefully to get it perfectly smooth and straight and square and then glue and clamp the edges together to make a wider plank. I think there’s a power tool that might make this job easier and faster, but whatever it is we don’t have it, so we do it all by hand.

eliza planing

salvaged butternut wood for the kitchen shelves

Posted: December 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: kitchen, woodworking | Tags: | No Comments »

well-used plans

We’ve done lots of thinking and sketching and brainstorming about the kitchen shelves, and now that the plans are final(?!) we’re building them. We decided to use some butternut wood that I helped my dad salvage from a fallen tree in the the woods across the street from my parents’ house on thanksgiving day of 1990! We hauled the tree home and one of my dad’s friends sawed it into planks with some kind of portable sawmill. They stickered and stacked it in the goat shed to dry out, and it’s been there ever since, waiting for the right project. So (21 years later) Richard offered it to us for our shelves! We had to clear away some clutter to get at it, and brush away a lot of dust, but it still looked pretty good. (Some of the wood stacked in the loft above Richard’s workshop has been in storage maybe 50 years or longer!) Butternut is a little soft but it’s a hardwood and it’s got a nice warm color and distinctive grain that we think will look nice for our shelves.

dog in the woodshop
a whole bunch of wood in the workshop, i think some of it is the butternut we used for the shelves.

kitchen inspiration

Posted: November 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: dreams, fun, kitchen | Tags: | No Comments »

we’ve been thinking hard about how to put the kitchen together… we realized that we both really aren’t into the look of a bank of store-bought cabinets, thinking about open shelving instead, not sure what to do under the counter. So anyway we came across this photo that we both love. Of course our kitchen doesn’t have brick walls, and luckily we do have big windows and lots of light, but anyway, i just dig the open shelves and the way a large open kitchen space becomes cozy and simultaneously tidily organized and informal. They have an island too, just like we’re going to. No idea where this image came from. Anyway now I want all those orange (red?) pots and pans!

hobbit kitchen

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