Building Blocks: Constructing a Wide Shelf

May 23, 2011 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

I recently had some space open up in my apartment and immediately realized it was the perfect opportunity to expand my craft corner into a corner plus a shelf.  Last weekend I headed to the target website and started researching.  Once I saw that they carried Way Basics I figured I would get some combination of shelves and/or cubes to start building my eco-friendly craft organization system.  Of course, I neglected to notice that they are only available online, so after circling the store multiple times (why are the shelves in 3 different sections?) I determined I didn’t like anything they had, but I wanted something like this:

I returned home frustrated and headed back to the internet.  I still couldn’t find anything I liked online (plus shipping a shelf is seriously expensive), so I switched to searching for tutorials on building a shelf.  Again I couldn’t find anything appealing – does no one make wide shelves? – although this tetris shelf looks seriously fun (just not so practical).  Not to be deterred, I set about making my own plans.  I quickly became so enthralled that I lost track of time and was up far too late playing with keynote (the mac version of powerpoint) and considering structural integrity.

On Friday I mentioned to a co-worker that I would be building a shelf on Saturday, and after remarking how awesome it is that I’m not worried about my nails (the kind some people paint- I prefer worrying about the kind that go with a hammer) he offered to help.  Saturday morning he and his girlfriend drove up and we all headed to home depot.  The store employee cautioned us that it wasn’t going to be as easy at it looked when I proudly showed him the blueprints, but we were determined and so he showed us several options.  The melamine seemed the easiest to work with: it came in dimensions that matched the plans and we were able to get a lot of finished edges plus a couple plain shelves to paint fun colors.  We calculated, recalculated (having two math majors was a plus) and then got the wood cut.  While we were contemplating screw sizes we decided to lay the whole thing out to make sure it worked (a real benefit of those wide aisles!).  Doing so allowed us to figure out that it would be easier to have the bottom divider cut short rather than sanding all of them down.  One less item on our to-do list!

Step one: Spray paint the unfinished shelves.  I have leftover spray paint from another project so we had a whole rainbow of colors to choose from.  My favorite colors are blue and green so I started with those.  Turns out this particle board is seriously absorbent and the green just couldn’t hang on.  We went with red instead with much better results (barring the part where we ran out and had to return to home depot, or really my awesome friends returned while I made them lunch).

Green goes on the Bottom

Step two: After the paint had dried we began assembly.  Armed with levels, measuring tape, brackets, screws and a drill we set to work.  Starting at the top we connected the sides and the first divider.  Working on carpet wasn’t easy but we would have been seriously cramped in the kitchen (or bathroom!) and those are the only non-carpeted areas I have.  Next comes the red shelf, the boards were slightly bowed so the level was put to good work.  I decided to make 2 one foot compartments on the ends so that if I decide to buy fabric drawers they will fit perfectly in those sections. Then came the blue shelf (also bowed) and finally the last divider.  16 brackets and 64 screws later I had a stable shelf!  It’s far sturdier than I anticipated and I love it.

Step three: (Haven’t actually done this yet) Touch ups- we ended up with two cut edges at the top, plus a bit of unfinished wood is showing on the dividers, thanks to the carpet and the curved shelves.  Those will need to be painted white.  And then the whole surface should be wiped down to clean up all the marks from cutting/transporting/building.  For now just pretend you can’t see them, that’s what I’m doing!

Step four: Fill it up with all of the items that have been tucked in the corner, under the bed, squished between things and overall inaccessible!  If you compare this picture to the one from my Craft Room Envy post you’ll see many of the same items, just spread out and easy to get to!

(click on the photo to zoom in)

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