"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Friday, August 15, 2014

a new place for coats

This is another project that has been stewing around in my head for a long time. I really like wall-hung coat racks, and I like the idea of a place to display some little things in the entryway, so when I stumbled upon this post, it was just the sort of coat-hanging decorative shelf I wanted. And then it took me several months to get around to actually making it. Partly it took me so long because I don't own the necessary tools, and I don't like to impose on my friend too much, mostly because he usually helps me with my projects, which is really nice, but I know he has more than enough of his own house projects to work on. Also, other things kept coming up that seemed more time-critical. However, as mentioned here, I had my friend's tools living in my garage for awhile, so I finally got around to this project. The project instructions I found online consist of a large piece of crown moulding, two boards, and a smaller piece of moulding for a decorative bottom. 

The first thing to do, of course, was to pick out the moulding that I would use. There was a lot of looking at existing moulding in our house, on door frames, baseboards, and the fireplace mantle. Then there was a lot of looking at options on homedepot.com. I picked out a 9/16" x 3 5/8" crown moulding for the top of the shelf. It looked good in the picture and was available in the store. A lot of the moulding options online are not available in stores, which I find very annoying because moulding is, I feel, one of those things that is better to see in person. I went to the store and found that, then walked around the moulding aisles looking at all the options for a smaller moulding for the bottom. There actually weren't that many choices, in the end, so I just picked one.

The tutorial indicates that the top shelf board should have a rounded front edge. It briefly mentions cutting or sanding the edge to make this. I didn't have appropriate tools for cutting it, and sanding sounded like a lot of work, so instead I bought a piece of half-round moulding and glued and nailed it to the edge of my board.

Next, I glued and nailed the back piece to the shelf. It seems I was really focused on this project and forgot to take many pictures. I apologize. Next, I primed all the wood. The crown and bottom moulding pieces were pre-primed, so I primed all the bare wood before attaching those pieces.

I found this video that shows how to cut crown moulding to get the correct mitered angles. Basically, you set the miter saw at 45 degrees and hold the moulding as if you were holding it against the wall, only upside-down. This turned out to be really hard. I couldn't seem to get uniform cuts so the corners would line up nicely. When my dad was out helping with the stairs (which you can read about here and here), he helped me make a little jig to hold the moulding in place to get more even cuts. Then I was extra glad my dad was there because gluing and nailing the crown pieces together turned out to be a two-person job. My dad put glue on two pieces and held them together while I used my 23-gauge pin nailer to put a couple nails in to help hold things together while the glue dried. Then Dad helped me hold things in place again while I used my 18-gauge brad nailer to attach the crown to the top and back of the shelf. Things weren't quite square, so there were some minor gaps. At first, I thought I could cover it up during the painting process, but in the end, I ran a line of caulk around all the seams where the crown met the shelf.

After painting everything with the same white gloss I used on our trim, it was time to attach the shelf to the wall. I used a stud-finder to locate and mark the studs. I had hoped I could get things to line up such that the coat hooks could cover up the screws holding the shelf to the wall, but no such luck. I used 2.5" #14 wood screws. Zach held the shelf in place while I drilled pilot holes and put in the screws. We couldn't get the screws to go in flush with the wood, so I borrowed a special countersink drill bit from my friend and went back and redid all the holes.

The picture above only shows four screws, but I added two more in the middle stud. After the screws were all in slightly below flush with the wood, I filled over them with wood putty. I had to do a couple of coats to get the holes filled in well. After that was all dry, I painted over the holes for a seamless look. 

I ended up getting the coat hooks on amazon.com. I looked at Home Depot and Target, but they had pretty limited selections, and I didn't see anything that I like very much. It was annoying to have to put my project on hold until the hooks arrived, but it was worth it. I marked the screw holes for the hooks before putting the shelf on the wall, which made it easy to lay them all out, measure, and get them all aligned properly. Then after the shelf was screwed to the wall, it was just a matter of drilling pilot holes and screwing the hooks on.

This project definitely goes in the category of more work than originally anticipated, mainly due to the crown moulding. I'm really pleased with how it all turned out, though it has made me less interested in any other crown-related projects for awhile!

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