Hanging Wall Shelf: Episode 3

Hanging Wall Shelf Episode 3 Keyframe

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In this final episode Paul shows how to cut the two different types of tenons, stub tenons and through tenons. Then he shows how to round over the edges of the top pieces and the front of the shelf. The project is assembled, to test the overall fit, then taken apart and glued up. Finally Paul does some cleanup and finishes the project with shellac. This is a great beginner project as well as being a good, simple project for those with more advanced skills. We hope you will give it a try!


  1. redwood on 10 January 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks guys, appreciate them all, many thanks

  2. wrstew on 10 January 2019 at 5:44 pm

    Once again Paul shows craftsmanship, years of practice making it look effortless. Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler show similar skills, might be a British thing? Spot on Paul, great series.

  3. beach512 on 10 January 2019 at 11:16 pm

    I really liked the pace of this project as I have been able to keep up by completing each section per the video. It is great training for all the joints, but it helps me to work patiently too.
    I see there is a back wood piece when the shelf is hung on the wall that is not on the project . How would be the best way to hang this on the wall? That would be my only question on this project. Everything else was very well done and clear like the other projects. Thanks.

  4. peloni on 11 January 2019 at 8:53 am

    Hi Paul and team,
    thanks for the great project, I am really keen on giving it a try.
    I have a question on the strength of the housing joints in the top and bottom boards. If I imagine this as a bookshelf or anything that is loaded considerably on the bottom shelf, the sides will want to slide out of the housing joints. Even more so, if the shelf is hung to the wall with a french cleat that is fixed to the top board then all the weight pulls the sides out of the housing joints in the top board.
    Would you only recommend this construction for “lightly” loaded shelfs (I think Paul mentions using it as a spice rack?), or does your experience show the joints in the top and bottom boards to be strong enough for larger loads such as books for example? What if the shelf was scaled up?
    Thanks for all your great content!

    • Robert S. on 11 January 2019 at 5:28 pm

      This was my concern as well.

    • Izzy Berger on 14 January 2019 at 3:14 pm


      Paul says it is just a small lightweight shelf unit, you will need to add addition joinery or fastening if it’s to be a large hanging bookshelf with heavy weight in it.

      Kind Regards,

  5. joeg on 11 January 2019 at 9:33 pm

    I also had that concern,, wouldn’t a tapered sliding dovetail be a more typical application for that scenario

    • Jim Thornton on 11 January 2019 at 10:23 pm

      There was a short discussion about this over on the “Hanging Wall Shelf” thread: https://woodworkingmasterclasses.com/discussions/forums/project-series-discussions/hanging-wall-shelf/
      A sliding dovetail (like the Shaker Bench) could also be done for the top, which carries the load for the whole piece when hanging by a french cleat. In my case it’s fine as it is since it’ll be carrying a light load. I guess where we need to branch out as woodworkers is to figure out for ourselves how to best adapt these pieces for our intended usage. Along those lines I bought some nice cherry today to build the Shaker Bench and learn how to do sliding dovetails, so I’ll have that arrow in my quiver for when I need it.

  6. mercified on 11 January 2019 at 11:08 pm

    The pacing on this project’s videos is perfect.

  7. JIM CHALOUPKA on 12 January 2019 at 10:46 am

    Questioning the end grain glueing?


  8. Keith Walton on 12 January 2019 at 3:55 pm

    Some one take 4 pieces of scrap, cut some dados, hang it on the wall and start piling weight on it. I’m sure there’s a point where it will fail, obviously, but I bet it can hold more of a load then I’d guess

  9. Graham Fuller on 13 January 2019 at 6:02 pm


  10. Jim Thornton on 18 January 2019 at 2:59 am

    Took a break from my workbench project today and cut and fitted the tenons for my top and bottom Cross Rails. I’ve machined dozens and dozens of tenons through the years. This was my first time cutting and fitting tenons by hand. Very enjoyable. I love my new Router Plane.


  11. Fred Dewick on 23 January 2019 at 2:19 am

    This project has taught me patients, patients and patients along with having sharp tools. Thanks Paul, very enjoyable!

  12. Charles Thompson on 26 January 2019 at 9:30 pm

    Great job.
    Great encouragement for everyone.

  13. Tim Moore on 10 March 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Anyone see what he did with the corner that split off of the through tenon piece?

  14. Robert Bellairs on 31 March 2020 at 2:50 pm

    Hello, I am 70 years old, and have been woodworking a little bit for many years. Like Paul, I have drafting training, and was a design draftsman for many years. I am fascinated by the precision to which Paul works, and his patient nature. My biggest challenge thus far is trying to transition from the fast paced “get the job done” culture of the working world, to Paul’s deliberate pace. I still find myself taking ill conceived shortcuts, which produce dissatisfying results in the end. Thank you all for your excellent videos.

  15. rickipp373 on 2 April 2020 at 2:50 am

    I have enjoyed the project. Thanks.

  16. rotaryw on 7 May 2020 at 5:42 pm

    Dear Paul,

    After completing this project I learned many new skills and I thank you for this opportunity.

    At the final stage of the crafting, just before glueing, a couple of questions popped in my head and I am sure you have the right answers:

    The top piece and bottom piece are jointed with a housing dadoes. The glue joint, apparently, is not the strongest one in this case because, the side of the shelf are long grain glued to the end grain of the top/bottom pieced, the bottom end of the side pieces are end grain, glued to the long grain of the top/bottom pieces. Further, when you prepared the french cleat you glued it to the top, in a way so that the top piece of the wall shelf will bear all the weight of the shelf, risking failure of the glue joints/separation.

    That is the theory. But yet, after I glued everything together, after I tried to “sense” the glue joints of the top/bottom pieces I “felt” they were rock solidly glued to the sides and permanently jointed !!! Where am I failing with my thinking ?

    Is it possible that what holds the sides dadoed into the top/bottom is their expansion after applying the water based white glue therefore creating a sort of “interference” joint, rather than relying on the glue shear resistance strength alone?

    Using other words, what I am trying to ask is the following question: is it possible that in this case the dado housing behaves kind like a foxtail wedged mortise and tenon joint, because of the expansion of the sides (tenons) into the ends (mortise/dado housing), due to the water content of the glue ?

    I hope I was able to make myself clear enough, English is not my mother tongue.

    Congratulations for the great job, I am always amazed by the huge quantity of skills I am learning with your precious guidance, while at the same time enjoining myself really a lot.

    I will post the picture of the wall mounted shelf on the forum.

    Very warm regards,


    • Izzy Berger on 14 May 2020 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Max,

      I passed your message onto Paul and he says:

      I realise what you’re saying that we’re basically relying on glue which does indeed expand the wood, and once expanded and glued, locks everything together. In theory, it is a weakness to just rely on glue, I agree. That said of all the hundreds of these I have made, I’ve never known the joint fail.

      Kind Regards,

    • Sunil Devarajan on 22 December 2021 at 1:28 pm

      You are viewing the housing dado as a glue up of end grain ( of the perpendicular piece) to long grain ( at the bottom of dado). Maybe, if you viewed it as a glue up of long grain (sides of the perpendicular piece inserted into the dado) to long grain ( the walls of the dado) it makes more sense. Paul has introduced the housing dado as one of the three joinery methods which include dovetail and M&T. I assume that once the housing dado is in this category, it can’t be a glue up of end grain to long grain. Although it is not a very strong joint, in this piece, the two M&T cross rails will prevent racking so the unit as a whole will be strong. In other words, you will not be able to easily yank the perpendicular piece out as long as it stays perpendicular.

      I hope this helps. I’d like to know if I’m wrong. Thanks so much Paul and team.

      • Roberto Fischer on 26 December 2021 at 4:38 pm

        Housing dados do not have long grain touching long grain. Long grain from the side touches end grain from the shelf, and end grain from the side touches long grain from the shelf. The ones where the sides rest on the base aren’t able to support nearly as much weight as the shelves, but PVA glues are still strong enough on end-long grain gluing for most used these bottom pieces may get.

        • Sunil Devarajan on 31 December 2021 at 3:20 am

          Yes there is no long grain to long grain glue line. Thanks for clarifying. I meant to say it can be viewed in a similar manner since there are long glue lines quite unlike end grain butt jointed to a flat surface.

  17. Steve Hiemstra on 31 January 2022 at 1:06 am

    Crikey, despite reviewing the video the night before I went and cut the the second tenon by measuring from the end of the rail instead of actually laying it down on the shelf to get the real measurement. Of course there is a large gap now I cut the tenon too long. Sigh!

    I glued it back together and will attempt to re-cut it tomorrow. Everything was going so smoothly too! 😹

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