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Since this hutch design has curved edges, the wood trim pieces that attach along the front will need to bend around the radius of the curved shelves and tabletop. To achieve this, soak the wood in water for a few hours before installing it to make it more malleable. An easy way to soak long pieces like this is to use a length of gutter as a container to hold the water and trim pieces. Avoid using knotty woods for this bending application as knots in the wood make it more likely that the wood will snap during this process.
The hutch starts with a basic box design, constructed from birch plywood and assembled using wood glue and nails. For an added design element, use beadboard for the backing. Cut the back piece large enough to leave an overhang of several inches on either side. This will facilitate adding open shelving on the sides of the center section.
Curved shelves added on either side help define the overall profile of this piece. Curved edges are also safer than cornered edges in tight, high-traffic spaces. Measure and mark the birch, and make the radius cuts using a jigsaw. Once you've created identical curved shelves, attach them on either side of the box using wood glue and nails. Space the shelves evenly apart so the overall piece has a symmetrical, balanced look.
Tip: Gallon paint cans can be used as a template for drawing the curves.
After the wood trim has soaked for about an hour, it can be attached to the edges of the curved shelves. Start by holding one end in place, and then carefully bend the trim piece around the curve -- slowly to prevent it from snapping. As you bend the piece, secure it using a nail gun installing one brad nail about every inch. This step is best done by two people: one to hold and bend the trim while the other installs the nails. Conceal the nail holes later by adding wood putty, and then sanding the surface before painting.
The tabletop is essentially a plywood box structure, but with the front edges cut to follow the same curved design. The top gets a trim treatment also in the form of basket-weave trim that's carefully bent and installed following the same technique as above.
Once the shelves, top and trim are installed, and the piece is fully assembled, sand, prime and paint it.
For this design, a separate top element with a slotted mail organizer is created from plywood and is backed with beadboard. The top piece is cut with curved ends to match the curves of the shelves below. Secure the uprights, top, shelves, and vertical dividers using wood glue and nails, and then attach the beadboard backing in the same way. The straight lines on the beadboard are helpful in making certain that the upright pieces are properly squared.
Once the back is attached and the structure is stable, attach wooden face-trim, sand, prime and paint the piece.
The final detail for the hutch is a top surface of vitrified tile, a very hard and durable material. This tile comes pre-made in gridded sheets. Do a dry-fit first to ensure a good fit then, using tile nippers, carefully cut the corners for the tiles that will fit within the curved edges.
To secure the tile in place, spread interior-grade adhesive onto the wood surface using a notched trowel (Image 1). Press the tile sheets down onto the adhesive then, using a flat surface such as a long level, tap the tiles down to ensure they stick to the adhesive and form a flat, even surface. Let the adhesive cure overnight. Grout the cracks by spreading grout with a trowel then following with a damp sponge to clear away the excess, and then allow the grout to dry. For large joints as with this tile, it's best to use sanded grout.
Once the grout has dried, install the hutch base and upper shelving unit (Image 2).
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