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Woodworking advice for period-correct shelves in antique walnut hutch

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jkoenig

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Jim Koenig Halfway between Harvester, MO and Cadet, MO
I had to buy a hutch from my family's estate, and I want to add shelves. It came with no shelves, and an unfinished interior. What do you guys think I should use to make shelves? I am leaning toward three 1/2-5/8" thick shelves of walnut if I can convince a sawmill guy to make them for a reasonable price. I would stain them to match the exterior and leave the remainder of the interior as is. Sorry about the overall view being laid over. I saved it vertically, but here it is laid over again. Also Max hopped in as soon as I opened the door.

What do you guys think?
 

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mfrade

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I think Max is pretty and smart! :groupwave:

What do you plan to place on the shelves? I don't think I'd go any thinner than 1/2"... but ask the sawyer what thickness he'd suggest.
 

jkoenig

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Jim Koenig Halfway between Harvester, MO and Cadet, MO
I have no idea what may go inside of the hutch. That will be my bride's problem. I may reinforce the 1/2" with a rib underneath the shelves, or a lip front, rear or both. I think today's standard 3/4" would look too thick for this piece. There is a shelf in the lower cabinet that is 1/2" rough sawn.
 

John Wyrick

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If your sawmill guy is using native walnut, it would be worth having it kiln dried for a few weeks. That costs about $20 a few hours south of you. There are also several small sawmills that cut Missouri walnut. i would go 5/8. Biggest question is if you want rough sawn or smooth. If smooth, most any old school lumber yard has a planer. Not Lowes or Home Depot!
 

jkoenig

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Jim Koenig Halfway between Harvester, MO and Cadet, MO
I'm asking around with the CL sawyers if they can do this, or if they recommend it. One guy with a kiln is pretty close to my oldest son 20-30 minutes from me.

I'm thinking smooth.

My sister just had a grove of walnut trees harvested, but she didn't offer to share, and it was done and gone before I found out.
 

jkoenig

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Jim Koenig Halfway between Harvester, MO and Cadet, MO
The local sawyer says he would start with 1" thick boards, and plane them down ... for an extra charge. Thinking about it, it probably makes sense using stable 1" thick lumber and reducing it rather than sawing it to 5/8" and hopoing it stays stable.
 

Curt Doles

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Are ther already holes for shelf pins or cleats/supports.
You might consider glass, a lot of vintage cabinets used glass and any glass shop can cut to size and finish edges. Most sawyers rough cut to 1 inch, 1 1/2 and up. Any time I've bought rough cut I generally got 1 inch and planed to desired thickness.
 

Jay Fetters

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If it were me, I'd go with 3/4 or 5/8 thick, and give the face edge a round over, on top and bottom, on the router table. This will give you the strength you need and the round over will give the appearance of a slimmer profile.

You could also use 1/2 thick cabinet grade walnut plywood, and put an edge band on the face edge. This will give the appearance of solid wood, but give you the strength and stability your after as well.

I would also recommend sending Gary Noblit a pm. He knows his way around a wood shop.
 

-CӞ

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if using it to display things, then glass makes lots of sense. better lighting characteristics for displays. and it ain’t expensive, plus it is less prep work and consumes less volume of space.

if using it to store things, then maybe the wood.
 

lpalma

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Too wide for glass, there is no center post to support the long length. Didja check the lower cabinet to see if the shelves are in there?
 

gary noblit

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I would never give up the chance to use a wood grain like some walnut,rather than glass..humble opinion....Again my opinion,I would do 5/8 after planing and do a routed lip on the front edge to dress it....If I couldn't find nice walnut some high grain cherry would be a great contrast....thanks jay
 

jkoenig

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Jim Koenig Halfway between Harvester, MO and Cadet, MO
There is one shelf in the lower cabinet. A rough sawn 1/2' thick shelf.

Jay and Gary: I was hoping to hear from both of you. I am aware of your wood conversations in other threads.

There are cleats for shelves in place, no holes for pins.

I'm not sure I want to route the front edge since I think they would have been plain originally.

I think the hutch would have had wooden shelves originally, so that is what I have been thinking all along. Glass is an interesting thought, but I like wood an awful lot.

Thanks to all for weighing in on this.
 

jkoenig

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Jim Koenig Halfway between Harvester, MO and Cadet, MO
Excellent point Gary. My bride has weighed in, and she likes the glass idea, but it came from my family, so my vote counts more-for once.

Anybody know where I can get 100+ year old glass with the ripples?
 

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