I'm very new to woodworking, and for my first project I decided to make a very simple shelf out of reclaimed pallet wood.
If you can imagine the pallet standing on it's side, with the planks vertical, that's where I'm getting with the shelf.
The top side is going well (yes, I regret starting top down).
The issue is that the bottom wood is rotted out and I have to cut it before completing the shelf.
I am plagued by fears that after all my measuring and cutting, that the bottom won't be level. How do I guarantee the bottom will be level? I am very new to all this and very scared of getting the cut wrong.
Is there a technique or a method to do so?
To elaborate: I have taken a pallet that has been left out in the elements for some time and partially stripped it down.
My intent is to set it upright (boards running the length are vertical). And then add more boards at the top and center for shelves. I doubt I could have it freestanding, because I suspect it might be unstable, so I'll have to make some sort of base for it.
The main issue, and why I delayed the base is because the ends of the board at the base are pretty rotted having been left in a pile of dirt and leaves for so long. I figure I need to cut out the rotted portion before anything else. I know how much length I need to cut. But with this being the base, I need it level with the ground, and the thought of not getting the measurements or cut right is making me anxious. I'm really new to this.
I have basic tools. Overall, I have a hammer, a wedge, a clamp, a handsaw, a tape measure, and a spirit level, among others.
I need to mark 14cm from the bottom of the rotted boards, and cut those all off in a way that it's level to make a base which will support the entire shelf.
Yesterday, I had gotten as far as to mark some spots where on the boards I need to cut, but then I stopped. I just had this feeling that I didn't know enough of what I was doing to continue.
EDIT 2: I apologize for the lack of clarity. I'm not used to explaining these things. But I'll get there. I can't take a photo, because the camera on my phone is broken, but I did make a very, very crude drawing on Paint. I really hope it makes things clearer. Again, I'm still getting the hang of how to convey all this. Attached in a rough layout of what I need cut/level.