How to Build a Mission-style Utility Stand

Add the Top and Shelves Step 1

Rip and crosscut oak to get four 5-1/2-inch-wide by 28-inch-long pieces to build the top (G). Arrange them for a pleasing grain effect, then edge-join them with glue and clamps.

Step 2

Rip and trim cleats (H and I) to size from oak. Drill countersunk holes in the cleats for #8x1-inch flathead wood screws. Attach the cleats (H, I) to the inside of the top and bottom rails with screws.

Step 3

Drill countersunk screw holes in the undersides of cleats H and I. Position the top with an even overhang on all sides, then secure it with #8x1-1/4-inch flathead wood screws through the cleats.

Step 4

Edge-join four 4-3/4-inch-wide by 25-inch-long pieces for the shelf (J). Repeat for the bottom. When the glue dries, check the shelf and bottom for fit in the stand. Trim with a table saw or circular saw to fit, then sand.

Step 5

Refer to the drawing for the shelf peg hole locations in the legs. Mark the holes and drill 1/4-inch-diameter holes 3/8 inch deep in the legs. Use an electric drill fitted with a brad-point bit and a drill stop.

Step 6

Insert pegs in the holes and test-fit the shelf in the stand. Remove it for finishing. Test the fit of the bottom in the stand. Trim as needed, then attach to cleats with screws (or add it after finishing).

V-Shape Shelf: Step 1

Rip and trim three 3/4-inch-thick pieces to 4-1/2 inches by 25 inches. Cut another of the same length to 5-1/4 inches wide. Edge-join two 4-1/2-inch boards, then the remaining two.

V-Shape Shelf: Step 2

When the glue is dry, remove any excess, sand the wood, and join the pieces together with glue and screws in countersunk holes as shown.

V-Shape Shelf: Step 3

Mark peg hole locations in the spindles as shown in the V-shelf end view drawing. Drill holes using a brad-point bit fitted with a stop.

How to Make up for Width

Large, wide single pieces of wood will eventually crack and split because of changes in humidity. To avoid that problem, edge-join two or more narrow pieces to make a wider piece. To make a 12-inch-wide top, for example, join three 4-inch-wide boards.

Make it a rule to never make up width using boards more than 6 inches wide. Narrower widths always work best.

As a further defense against warping, alternate the grain. Look at the arch formed by the growth rings on the end of each board, and place the boards so alternate arches face up.

The mating edges of the boards to be glued must be true. That is, the sides have to make exact 90-degree angles with the tops and bottoms. Check this by butting all the boards together before gluing. Then, clamp them lightly and look for voids in the joints.

Be careful when clamping a wide piece from several narrower ones. Make sure the pieces remain absolutely flat as you apply and tighten the pipe or bar clamps. Don't overtighten.

Color with Stain and Coat with Oil

After a final sanding, use a pigmented oil- or water-base stain to give the oak a warm color. Apply at least two coats of a penetrating oil finish. It's easier to stain and oil the shelf and the bottom before installing them in the stand.


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