Custom Furniture. Millwork. Fabrication. Design.
  Vertical-grain Douglas Fir, African Mahogany. No fasteners.  If you move often, furniture can feel like a burden. IKEA's pieces are constructed of low materials, are frustrating to assemble, and flimsy when they're done. They're easy to hate, so they're more likely to end up in the trash when it's time to move to the next apartment. I set out to design a flat-packing shelving unit whose assembly couldn't be simpler and requires no tools. Bridle joints marry Mahogany shelves to vertical-grain Douglas Fir rails making the structure seamless and strong and beautiful--a piece of furniture to love.

FLAT-PACK SHELVING

Joinery as metaphor. 

  Vertical-grain Douglas Fir, African Mahogany. No fasteners.  If you move often, furniture can feel like a burden. IKEA's pieces are constructed of low materials, are frustrating to assemble, and flimsy when they're done. They're easy to hate, so they're more likely to end up in the trash when it's time to move to the next apartment. I set out to design a flat-packing shelving unit whose assembly couldn't be simpler and requires no tools. Bridle joints marry Mahogany shelves to vertical-grain Douglas Fir rails making the structure seamless and strong and beautiful--a piece of furniture to love.

Vertical-grain Douglas Fir, African Mahogany. No fasteners. If you move often, furniture can feel like a burden. IKEA's pieces are constructed of low materials, are frustrating to assemble, and flimsy when they're done. They're easy to hate, so they're more likely to end up in the trash when it's time to move to the next apartment. I set out to design a flat-packing shelving unit whose assembly couldn't be simpler and requires no tools. Bridle joints marry Mahogany shelves to vertical-grain Douglas Fir rails making the structure seamless and strong and beautiful--a piece of furniture to love.

The Bridle Joint

The Bridle Joint

This joinery technique seamlessly locks the shelves and rails together.

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Material Selection

Material Selection


I selected vertical grain Douglas Fir in 2x8 for its dimensional stability. This particular piece had a good straight grain with nice spacing. A straight, stable piece was necessary for the shelves to slide into the rails smoothly. For a two-tone look, I found a handsome piece of 1x12 African Mahogany and selected the flattest sections for the shelves.

Fabrication

Fabrication

To ensure the slots in the rails were aligned perfectly, I clamped them together and ran them through a table saw set up with a dado blade gauged to the thickness of the shelves. I left the dado a hair loose to account for the thickness of the polyurethane finish. Blue tape prevented any tear-out. Corresponding slots in the shelves were cut on the table saw and finished with hand-tooling. 

Transportation

Transportation

Fun Fact: I wanted to deliver the shelves to their new owner in Brooklyn via Southwest Airlines whose policy provides for checked luggage under 50lbs and fewer than 62" length + width + depth, so
I designed the unit to fit within those specifications. When packaged, the unit was 48lbs and exactly 62."

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