Midnight Woodworking


St. Kilian chapel – Tabernacle stand – part 1

This next project is going to be a bit of a challenge. I live about five hours away from Saint Kilian parish and not heading to New York while it is closed to travel. The chapel is currently undergoing a lot of work and a place is being prepared for the tabernacle. I need to build a stand that will match the curves of the floor and wall. The shelf at the top will need to sit back into the recess on the wall. To achieve this, Monsignor sent me some templates that were drawn on paper. The templates give me the exact dimensions of the recess and the curve of the wall, as well as the curve of the shelf that matches the concrete on the floor below.

I have a plan for the base, but for the top I am working completely from these templates here.

The front of the shelf that is not recessed into the wall will be 1-1/2″ thick to match the other pieces of furniture, but the recessed part will only be 3/4″ thick. Another challenge is that I don’t want the wood to expand or contract, especially in the recess.

My plan is to join an 3/4″ thick piece of plywood to a piece of 1/4-sawn red oak and have it all look like one solid piece of wood. I might be a bit crazy, but I think I can make it work.

The first step is to create the thick, solid panel. I cut several pieces of 8/4 oak and jointed the face and edges.

Then I use the template to make sure I have enough pieces to make a large enough panel.

I planed down all of the parts of the panel to about 1/16″ over my final thickness.

While I was cutting down the 8/4 oak, I cut enough pieces for the base of the column as well.

I got the small base lined up and ready to go.

Then I set up my clamps and mixed up some 2-part epoxy to join up the large section of the shelf.

I have about 5-10 minutes to work with this epoxy, so I quickly paint the joining faces with it and clamp it up.

I also used epoxy to glue up the column base and then clamped it as flat as I could.

24 hours later, the epoxy has cured and I start cleaning up the faces.

I cut the large panel down to a size that will fit through my planer and take one pass on each side to clean it up and take the board down to the final thickness.

The column base is not as perfectly flat as I would like, but I can fix that.

Do not ever attempt to run a board sideways through your planer unless you have a helical head. Straight knives would throw it back at you.

But the only problem my helical head planer had was a bit of tear-out on one end.

To get the board perfectly flat, I have to resort to hand planes.

But I finally get there in the end.

Moving back to the big shelf, I locate my template and hold it in place with some tape.

After double-checking that it is perfectly centered, I trace the edges.

I have a pattern for the top as well as the bottom. The tricky part is that the top needs to have a flat edge for the plywood to join to and the bottom has to be curved.

I traced the curve on the bottom of the panel then set the table saw blade height to that of the plywood I am joining to the shelf.

I do a test cut first to insure my depth is accurate.

Then I cut the rabbet that will receive the plywood.

After the rabbet is cut, I do a test fit. Looks pretty good.

Now that I have the panel and the plywood together, I can attach the template and mark out the plywood’s dimensions.

To match the drywall recess, the plywood will not have perfect 90° angles. To cut these angles I have to get creative. The board fits into my large cross-cut sled so I tape a wedge to the back of the sled to hold the plywood cocked at an angle.

This works surprisingly well. It shaved off the slight angle cleanly.

To cut the opposite side, I taped a different wedge to the other side of the sled.

Moving back to the thicker half, I cut the large outer curve off on the band saw.

I use my new 6″ wide belt sander to clean up the cut and smooth it out.

I have the edges of the template marked on the front so I transfer those to the back and align the curved bottom template and tape it in place.

I had to cut the rabbet for the plywood, while I still had a straight edge, now that that is cut, I can cut the bottom curve. I trace the curve out then remove the template.

Before I can cut the curve, I also need to add the full bullnose edge along the front curve of the shelf.

This requires a 3/4″ round-over bit. I cut the top first, then flip the shelf over and repeat the cut along the bottom.

And I now have a full bullnose.

The reason I cut that before cutting the curve from the back was in case there were any problems cutting the bullnose at the ends. As it happens there was a problem. Mainly because the shelf is so heavy an awkward, it slipped at the end.

But that gets cut away when the back curve is cut out.

And, with a little more sanding, I have a curved rabbeted shelf.

After a bit of sanding, I line the plywood back up with the shelf and mark the locations of my tenons.

I use my Festool Domino to create six mortises.

Then tap the loose tenons into place for a dry-fit.

When I am happy with the fit, I start applying wood glue to the joint.

I use the original off-cut from the outer curve as a clamping caul to hold the two panels together.

When the glue is dry, I do a bit of light sanding and the joint looks perfect.

The red oak plywood I am using has flat-sawn grain on one side and quarter-sawn grain on the other. The quarter-sawn side matches really well with the quarter-sawn solid panel. You can barely tell there is a joint.

Top shelf done, time for the column.

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