Floating is pretty much the only way we install shelves anymore. We could install them other ways (you know, with brackets), but nobody wants brackets anymore. So, you might ask yourself, “If the only installation being requested these days is floating and the kids at WunderWoods install a lot of shelves, why was was it so hard for Scott to figure out how to put live-edge shelves in a corner?” Seems like he might have run into that before. The crazy answer is, no, I have not run into it before and no one has ever asked.
If you don’t give it a lot of thought, it doesn’t seem too much more difficult than a regular floating shelf installation. However, I was starting to think it was impossible (especially wall to wall) until I dreamed up a way to do it months after the initial request. While I was working on it and letting this part drag on, I remembered thinking, “I wonder how long it will be before brackets come back in style, so I can put up these corner shelves?”
My first, and only other plausible solution, was to install the rods and drill the holes at a 45 degree angle from the corner and slide the entire assembly (both shelves together) into the corner. This would technically work, if the corner is open, but it wouldn’t work if the corner was closed in on the ends and it sounded ridiculously hard to drill and install. It pretty much would never work. That was it. That was all I had for a long time.
I kept thinking about regular shelves and how nice it would be if I could just drop it on some shelf pins, or how nice it would be if they were just square-edged shelves and I could slide them in without fussing with that inside corner where the live edges crash at some random angle. Then, finally, I put the two ideas together. Slide the second shelf in at an angle on a post and drop the other side down into a funky joint on the other shelf. It is a tough one to explain without me being able to use my hands, so I put an animation in the video for you to see how it works.
Overall, the installation is the same as we do for live-edge mantels (click to see how to install a live-edge mantel) and other live-edge shelves. We do sometimes use Sheppard brackets, but they wouldn’t work in this case either. The main difference for this installation was the inside corner, which was cut on the CNC router. It’s a fun little joint which we cut quite often but with the addition of a little ledge. Check out the following video to see how it works. It’s a lot easier than me trying to explain it.
One of the trickiest parts of making a new bartop is installing it. The biggest problem is we can’t, or at least we probably don’t want to, just drill through the top. If we could, the job would be much easier and this blog post and video would be much shorter.
Assuming that the bartop is going to be placed on a half wall and not on a run of cabinets, the two areas of concern are giving the top support and providing a way to anchor it down. Adding steel plates underneath, solves both of the problems. We use 3″ wide x 1/2″ thick steel plates attached to the top of the half wall, which then fit into recesses routered into the bottom side of the bartop. We use a CNC router because we have one, but this can be done just as well with a handheld router and a jig. We cut the slots 1/2″ deep, 3-1/2″ wide and 1/2″ longer than the steel. The length of each piece of steel and the placement is up to you and different with every top.
We first fit the bartop to the space using cardboard templates made to fit the existing conditions. Once the tops fit, we then mark the locations of the slots, remove the tops one last time and secure the steel before putting on the tops for the final time. You will be tempted to skip this step by just measuring the layout, but I can tell you from experience, nothing in the world lines up where you think it will and there is a great chance that you will be removing the top again anyway. Of course, if the top is giant and hard to move, or if you are just feeling lucky, go ahead and measure and see what happens. Your odds of getting the steel to fit in the slots the first time will be increased with bigger slots. However, I personally lean towards a tighter fit because I think it looks more professional, despite the fact that it will probably never be seen.
After the steel is in and the the bartop is back in place, it just takes a few minutes to screw down the top. We drill all of the holes in the 1/2″ thick steel on a drill press to make it easier, but it can be done on site with a handheld drill (it just takes a bit longer). A screw at each end of the steel plates is all it takes to hold the bartop in place.
In the video below, the bartop is L-shaped, so each piece gets some additional support from the opposing piece. The two pieces are aligned with loose dominos and pulled together with dogbone connectors, which are commonly used for countertops. Click on the video below to see how we do it and to see how the top was built.
Well, I finally did it. After endless comments from customers about not being able to find the shop and a recent encounter with a customer that went quite poorly due to the lack of signage, I broke down and decided to make some directional signs for the shop. We have a sign on our door, but it is hidden from the street and doesn’t really do much except to confirm that you are indeed in the right place just before you actually enter the shop. Everyone finds the building without a problem, but we need to help them find the door.
First, let me address why this took so long. All of our work has always been word of mouth. I built the business slowly, starting by working from my home shop, so I never really needed a sign. I usually visited customers at their house and very few visited the shop. As the business has grown, more customers find us on their own, and I would rather them not be mad at me before they get to the shop (or don’t get to the shop as the case may be).
In St. Charles, any directional signs 2 square feet and under, do not require a sign permit, so I am making that the size limit for my signs. Hopefully, that way I can put up the signs at multiple entrances without causing any problems.
I decided to use the cnc router to make the signs and mix in a little artwork in the design and construction, which is the perfect mix for me. Plus, I used some salvaged wood for the project, which makes me feel even that much better about it. The boards came from a set of bleachers I salvaged from an old gym. Most of them were straight-grained Douglas fir with a clear coat on them. Those boards were super nice and didn’t stay around the shop long. The boards I used for the signs were some replacement boards made from southern yellow pine, which were painted and were never going to be purchased in the shop, so they were the perfect pick for this job.
I still have a few signs to finish up, but click the link below to see how the first one was made:
Last week we delivered and installed a bartop after a nice long drive to the customer’s house, which made for some nice quality time in the truck with Tom.
The live-edge sycamore top was nicely spalted, so it had some extra character. Spalting happens in all wood (some more than others) when it starts to decay. The trick is to mill the logs at the right time, so they have more visual interest but haven’t rotted too much. For sycamore, the right amount of time for the log to sit for optimal spalting is around the one-year range. However, the wood can be spalted and still useable for up to three years. This timing is widely variable depending on climate and storage conditions, and you can’t really know the results until the log is milled.
The customer plans to install decorative brackets later, but we still installed steel plates, which add support and give us a place to fasten down the top. Before finishing with Krystal conversion varnish, Tom milled slots in the bottom of the slab with the CNC router to accept the steel plates, which tuck in underneath. To see how it all came together, check out the video below.