Fitting the Shelves

This is an episode in a free series. Want to watch it? It is free to do so, you just need to log into the site and you can enjoy this video and many other videos we think you will love.

As part of fitting the shelves, Paul cuts a rebated piece to cover the front of his plywood shelf. He then fits the shelf to the cabinet, ensuring it fits around the sawtooth shelf supports. He then fixes the rebated piece and the stops to ensure the shelves stay in place in use. Paul also shows how to fit an optional sloped shelf.


  1. aintgonnahappen on 30 March 2016 at 3:46 pm

    This has perhaps taken too many episodes, but it’s been very good instruction. Thanks for the series!

    • Farred on 31 March 2016 at 3:49 am

      I like the pace. 45 minutes/episode is about the limit of my attention span.

  2. royjensen on 30 March 2016 at 5:48 pm

    Would a #5 plane fit on the angled shelf? It looks like it might be a bit tight?

    • aintgonnahappen on 3 April 2016 at 11:41 am

      Looks like the 5 and up would have to sit sideways on the bottom or top shelf. I’m guessing that’s how Paul may do it or he simply puts them in another cabinet. Hopefully he addresses this issue.

    • sodbuster on 6 April 2016 at 3:57 am

      Good point about #5 plane (my favourite plane). The angled shelf could go closer to vertical to provide more length – one option. Or tweak the design so the cabinet is a bit deeper. The fun of design – each decision influences the others.

  3. Michael Barnes on 30 March 2016 at 6:38 pm

    The red knife has made quite a few appearences now but what make is it and where can I get one?

  4. joeuu on 30 March 2016 at 7:20 pm

    @Frank Booth, I think the length of this project intentionally coincides with the big move and setting up in Oxford, quite daunting.

  5. Matt Vaughn on 31 March 2016 at 3:09 am

    What is he going to use to finish the cabinet? Any idea on the next project?

  6. norm lafond on 31 March 2016 at 7:25 am

    I liked this project most of all because it addressed all of the problems one has with a cabinet with inset doors. Hanging and fitting the doors for a cabinet is very tricky work and the methods outlined here have answered many questions and solved many problems I have had in the past. In addition, the adjustable shelving brackets are not covered anywhere as well as this. I think that if you try to actually do these tasks you will find that the time Paul took to go over his methods was entirely necessary. Phil Lowe did a queen anne lowboy on fine woodworking .com and he accelerated the pace along the lines you are suggesting. But I found that when I tried to do the work that many finer details that I needed were not covered. And that required me to do considerable research on my own to fill in the blanks.

    • Jim Braun on 2 April 2016 at 1:23 pm

      I also appreciate the level of detail provided by Paul in these videos.

  7. Craig on 31 March 2016 at 8:22 pm

    et al,
    To those who think this series is too long, what portion of each episode would you eliminate?
    I think some constructive suggestions on how the series might be improved are important and would be given serious consideration by Paul and the team. The rest of this “community” doesn’t necessairly need to know the details-use the “Contact ” button screen top right——or not.

    • keithc on 1 April 2016 at 2:49 pm

      I think perhaps it is about the frequency of the published videos and less about the content. My guess is that when Paul planned this that he knew exactly how many episodes that this would take. Perhaps for projects of such length one could consider the possibility of publishing more frequently to reduce the total elapsed time between the first and last episode. On the other hand I have no idea of how much effort goes into editing – I suspect a lot – and whether this is practical especially when you consider that he was writing a book and moving house, workshop etc. in the same timeframe.

  8. mxbroome1 on 1 April 2016 at 3:30 am

    If you shortened it, would you still have Paul Sellers crooning too us a new song about Looking at Life from Both Sides Now. How fun was that!!

  9. knightlylad on 1 April 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you for the lesson.

  10. STEVE MASSIE on 3 April 2016 at 12:19 am

    Well for me I enjoy these series so much and no complaints on how this drags out. Gives us older slower Guy’s a chance to watch and rewatch if nessassary. I really appreciate the mount of detail that has gone into this series, and Pauls explanations makes it easy to understand.

    I don’t need a tool cabiet but once I can get back in my shop I am going to make this one. My cabinet is over 40 years old and was my 1st major project using plywood and power tools. I will find use for the old cabinet and thhe new one for my hand tools.

    Thanks again Paul and crew for another great video and can’t wait for Pauls new book and DVD’s arrive, which should be soon I hope.


  11. sodbuster on 6 April 2016 at 4:05 am

    This episode spent more time repeating some steps on the simple, horizontal shelf than was maybe required. Then the more complex angled shelf was glossed over. There was a summary “how I did it” but not a live demonstration.

    In future I would prefer to see the easy / basic version of a technique get proper attention, but maybe not repeat each step. This would allow some focus time on how to manage the “tricky bits” of the more challenging version.

    This kind of approach might also help address the challenge of presenting new material to the more advanced subscriber without baffling the less skilled viewer. “just a suggestion”.

  12. John Devereux on 26 September 2016 at 10:01 pm

    I know I should stay out of this but part of my specialism as a teacher and as a mentor of teachers has been to do with pacing and content of lessons. My estimation of Paul’s rhythm is that it is somewhere up there with Ben Webster’s. Nonpareil, unequalled, for those who don’t know who Ben Webster was. On a second and unrelated point a concern I have is a confusion between excellence and elitism. in my profession much damage has been done thus. Paul is also an exemplar of the best practice in this regard. There is nothing here of elitism but great volumes on excellence. I went off to read Krenov again after watching Paul last week and ended up feeling quite sad. Some years ago Krenov had persuaded me that fine woodworking was all a bit too much and, for example, making ones own plane would be more than I a mere mortal should even seriously consider. Then I remembered Paul making the rebate plane with an old chisel for the cutter. We can all make our own planes if we want to. And perform acts of fine woodwork. How liberating all this is. And mostly for free!! And what joy to see Paul using a wooden rebate plane. If you have never experienced using one I’d recommend it just for the sheer pleasure it brings. Not least the resultant step which is quite unlike that chipped out by an electric router.

    • Peter George on 27 September 2016 at 12:39 am

      The phrase “Excellence not elitism” discribes exactly how I feel about Paul’s teaching. I was scared away from hand tool woodworking by the elites who told me I needed an expensive and complex hardwood bench and high end hand tools to do good work. Then there is Mr. Sellers who makes the field accessibe.

      I believe the difference is that Paul is a tradesman and craftsman who has made his living from what he is teaching us. He can show us how to build almost anthing with the 20 or so basic hand tools and a bench made from construction lumber.

      • Ed on 27 September 2016 at 6:00 am

        He also has a gift for teaching. Others have collections of projects, but Paul is the only person I’ve seen with a progressive curriculum. This may be harder to see in Masterclasses at this point because you just see a pile of projects if you haven’t seen them released one by one, but if you look at his older paperback book, it is very clear that he is walking you through a progression of learning to reduce, shape, and join wood, working from simple spoons up through boxes, shelves, and tables. Masterclasses progresses even further. I still think the toolbox with drawer and panel top/bottom is almost the Rosetta Stone of woodworking.

  13. John Devereux on 27 September 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Having mentioned Ben Webster in passing I’m going for broke. Charlie Parker said Johnny Hodges was the Lily Pons of alto sax playing, and what he meant was that Johnny Hodge’s was the art that concealled art. So thanks to Peter George for underlining my comment about eliteism and excellence, but also to Ed Frank. Paul is a gifted teacher, and that is rather rare in this context. Every procedure has been challenged and qustioned by Paul and as a result often the process has been improved. Read Bayliss on cutting a mortise and then watch Paul. He is clearly in the tradition as outlined by Bayliss, but has improved it. I’ve cut lots of mortises successfully the Bayliss way but as soon as I tried Paul’s slightly altered approach I knew it was better. All my now long life I have pressed down too hard on hand planes. Until Paul demonstrated that this is not only not necessary but in error. As soon as I tried pushing and not prressing I knew Paul was right, and where I’ve been underperforming. His way is easier and produces a better result.

    Part of being a really good teacher is analysising and fine tuning what the student does. Paul has done this for me without us even meeting. He has done this by passing on his knowledge of the errors of other students. To teach this well you need insight and an enquiring mind. You also have to have a generous nature. That generous nature however exploits the selfish gene idea. Altruism in a teacher develops the teacher’s understanding and skills as well as those of his students. My mum was a gifted teacher and one of her sayings was, “if you want to really understand something, teach it”. Many of my pedagogic colleagues were never secure enough in themselves to realize this. And of course we were not taught it on courses on teaching…..

    I think there are other good teachers out there on you tube etc but they frequently are self taught and thus do not have the insights into the tradition that Paul gained by coming through the old traditional system. There is a puzzle here for me: the people I have met who came through the traditonal system (not just in woodwork but in many crafts and professions) are not like Paul. By comparison they lack insight, creativity, and they can’t teach what they know. JMW Turner, the great painter is quoted as having said of his profession, “rum show Art”. Well yes, he might have said, “rum show life”. I believe the pinacles are reached by respecting the tradition but in such a way that nothing is taken for granted. Try it but only believe it in as far as it works for you.

    Paul talks calmly enough but to a degree about a world that is in danger of vanishing. The skills he teaches (real skills not psuedo “management “skills” and the like”) are endangered. Or they were. I’ve seen this in many areas of my life and that may explain my current obsessions. My wife thinks I’d offer to marry Paul if he were gay.

    To amplify Peter George’s comments, I’d accepted that for me cabinet making had led to a cul de sac and then this chap comes along and with a bit of magic dust the cul de sac turns out to be a six lane highway.

    Daily woodwork for pleasure. Brilliant. I have spent ages trying to source a triangular file so I can sharpen an old 4tpi rip saw. I still can’t find a single cut file that is big enough but using the eze-lap paddles to finess the sharpening using a double cut is my current solution. Nobody seems to make first cut files any more. And the Nicholson’s I bought years ago are no longer sharp (and also not big enough for this rip saw).

    Where is the Paul Sellers of hand metal work I ask myself?

  14. hilfers3 on 11 June 2017 at 2:23 pm

    Question on the slanted shelf, if anyone’s still reading these comments. It’s not clear from the description what the goal of the front cut out is. There seem to be two saw cuts on it. First, there is an cut that seems to match the cut for the back cutouts, and would seem to be taken from the same sliding bevel measurement. Second, there is a small cut at the bottom of the first cut cutout, giving the appearance of an arrow or the like.

    I just finished my shelf. Made the first cut as above , expecting to see what the goal of the second was, and then work it out. But there seems to be no purpose for it.

    Is it possible that the front cutout is supposed to have the arrow shape so that it fits into one of the saw teeth in the supports (i.e. Above the bracket)?
    Don’t think I can change anything at this point, but was curious. Thanks

  15. Michael Ostrander on 5 November 2017 at 4:58 pm

    2 things I saw here that could be greatly simplified here I think. First, instead of battens or rabits to secure the shelf supports, a simple 3/4 screw driven through the support into the side of the cabinet would eliminate a lot of fuss.

    Second, these shelf supports were never meant to support angled shelving. I’ve seen them in lots of pieces in differing varieties but only for straight & level shelves. The angled shelves in this particular cabinet should be fixed. Just use a temporarily batten to hold them, figure out what’s going on them, set them in place, and attach them permanently to the cabinet sides with screws and no glue. You could always move them later if your needs change.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.