One final note before we get started. This project does not require a tremendous amount of skill, though it would be very helpful to have experience with some woodworking beforehand, for obvious reasons.
Step 1: Got Wood?
Since this is a DVD case I opted to make it 8" wide for a good movie holder size and to save a little bit on costs. If you get the 10" , you will have more stackable configurations available to you, as you will be able to stack them perpendicularly as well. You still technically could, but it would have some overhang. So on with the materials.
Step 2: Materials
- Six 1" x 8" x 8' planks of wood ( whatever kind of wood you prefer. If you can afford it, I highly recommend Red Oak or Rosewood). This totals to about 48' . This is enough to make all of the pieces with a few feet leftover for mistakes. *Always plan for mistakes!!!*
- Wood Putty (preferably one similar to the color of the wood, it's next to the stain at Lowe's or Home Depot)
- Wood Glue (but only if you want the thing to stay in one piece)
- Sandpaper, 220 grit.
- A stain and varnish (polyurethane) of your choice, as well as cloths/brushes and such to go with it. (more on stains to use later) or paint, if you prefer.
- A nail gun with nails long enough to hold the pieces together at a 90 degree angle ( 1 1/4" worked great)
- Table saw
- Miter (mitre) saw (this isn't totally necessary, but is but will come in extremely handy for some of the pieces)
- Possibly other things I am forgetting right now.
- You will of course need transportation for the wood as well. Hopefully if you don't have a truck, you at least have a sunroof like me. Don't let the pieces sit in there like that for very long, or they will warp.
Step 3: Measure Up!
HOWEVER, there is something important to note here. The length that is measured is the length of the flat surface that will be on the OUTSIDE of the tetris shape. This means that some pieces will have an overall length somewhat longer than 10 or 20 inches. You will see as we get into it what I mean (and this is where the miter saw comes in pretty handy).
Forgive my lack of drawing abilities, but you can see the crude drawing I made, with one color representing each size and shape of piece you will need.
As you see, you need 2 blue ones (30"), 2 purple ones (40"), 7 orange ones and 1 red one (20"), 9 green and 9 yellow ones (10").
Step 4: Measure and Cut
First set the miter saw to a 45 degree angle as you see. If you've got safety goggles, put em on, because sawdust goes in your eyes. But if you like the feeling of sawdust in your eyes, then by all means, leave them off. Now make your first test cut a couple of inches off the edge of the board, just so you can see what we're going to be dealing with.
Once you have done this, measure exactly (or as close to exact as you can get) 10" from the right edge of the blade, and mark that spot right on the miter saw. Move the board to that position, make sure it is level, pray to whatever god or gods you pray to and make the cut. You now have your first 10" piece. Next slide the board to that same exact spot, and cut again. Do this until you get to the last piece on that board. In all, you should have been able to fit nine pieces on there with a few leftover scraps, as shown.
Still have all 10 fingers? Good! Let's carry on.
Step 5: Cut the Rest
From there, move on to the 20" boards (I hope you marked out 20, 30 and 40 inches on the miter saw). You can fit four 20" pieces on one length of board, and the other three on the next board. This will leave you approximately 26" of leftover scrap. don't throw it away, put it to the side. you might need it later.
At this point, you should still have two untouched boards. Cut the two 30" on one (save the scrap again), and the two 40" pieces on the other board (and save the scrap). You now have all of the pieces cut to length. However, you may have noticed something. They are all going parallel ( / / ) instead of perpendicular like many of the boards require ( / \ ). Fear not! This is why we are moving to the table saw next.
Step 6: The Table Saw
Next, do the same with six of the 20" boards (remember the 7th is already correctly cut). If your table saw is not large enough to cut the 30" and 40" boards like this, then you take it back to the miter saw and just flip it around. but be SURE that the cut goes on the right side and that you don't cut it too short. Remember the rule, measure five times, cut once.
Congratulations, you have now done the hard part. There is just one more thing we need to cut in order to make these pieces perfect.
Step 7: Ripping the Boards
After you are done cutting all the boards at length, adjust the angle to about 30 degrees for the bevel. Adjust the blade to be lower once again. You can see in this image that mine is too high. Set the width of the board (the guide on the right hand side) to be 7.5 inches wide. Then just guide each of the boards through (length-wise!) to give it that beveled edge. On the perpendicular pieces ( / \ ) you want to make SURE that the longer edge is on the bottom, otherwise it will be backwards. This spells bad things, obviously. For the parallel pieces, either way is fine, since those are reversible. Anyway, just do this process to all of the boards and you are FINALLY done cutting.
Put the blade down, clean the table and get out the nail gun, we're ready to assemble.
Step 8: Assembling the First Piece.
The first pieces are always the hardest. There are a few tricks you can try to ensure you get a 90 degree angle. The best and easiest way to do it is to set the edges that are going to become the outside corners right up next to each other. apply masking tape to these edges so you create sort of a hinge. From there, apply wood glue to both sides of the pieces being stuck together, and close them up. Make sure your nail gun has nails and the pressure is on the air compressor and it's ready to go. Make sure that the edges line up and that everything looks square and shoot your first holes. The nails only purpose is to hold the boards together while the glue dries. We will cover the holes these create later.
I like to nail three on one edge of the board, then switch to the other edge and do two nails in between the others (as shown). After the first two pieces are together, just repeat the same process. It gets easier now that you have some leverage from the other pieces. On the final piece, you can either do both edges at the same time, or just one at a time. The reason I say this is because for the 20" board, you have enough room to move the last edge to apply the glue. This is not the case with 10" boards.
And now you officially have your first tetris piece done.
Step 9: The Rectangle
When you get to the last 10" board, apply glue to both edges of that board and both edges of the 40" board. Assemble it and nail both sides at the same time. It is kind of funny that the easiest parts to assemble are the ones that require twice as many nails.
And you now have your square and your rectangle. Always wipe the excess glue that drips off the boards, but don't worry too much because it will come off in the sanding stage.
Step 10: The L
Start by connecting the 10" perpendicular pience to the 20" perpendicular piece, and work your way around the L clockwise. It might be a good idea for you to assemble the two parallel pieces (the interior corner of the L) in a different piece from the rest, because those are the hardest to nail in place (see picture). My nailgun only barely fit, and I didn't think to assemble that part before the rest until after I was done with the whole project (isn't that always how it works out...). But once you do that, just continue assembling as normal and voila! finished L.
Three down, two to go...
Step 11: The T
Using the picture as shown (as an upside down T), the order of assembly that I recommend you use is this: construct the bottom three pieces first. Then separately do both of your interior corner pieces the same way we did the L shape, and connect both of those to the bottom section. At this point, you just plop the 10" perpendicular on top and assemble it as normal. This is the coolest piece, so I felt the most pride when I put it together.
Our assembled shelf is finally starting to take shape!
Step 12: The Dreaded S
Assemble this one any way you like. I did it the wrong way though, I will tell you that much. Assembling the interior pieces and then the 20" pieces followed by the 10" outside pieces seems to be the way to go. You may be able to tell from this photo, but one of my pieces was about 1/4" too long, and as a result, the top part of the S is tilted. The reason this happened is because I miscounted when I originally cut the pieces, and I was missing one 10" piece. So I lined it up to the old line as best I could and cut, but it was still just ever so slightly off.
This will stress the importance of cutting all the pieces at the same time. Normally on woodworking projects you cut pieces as you go, but it is so important that these pieces be exactly the same that you pretty much have to cut everything at once.
In any case, they all more or less fit (the S fits perfectly if you flip it around and use the other side) and we are now officially done with the building phase.
Step 13: Filling and Sanding
Chances are you will have one or two nails that didn't go quite the whole way. Just get a fine screwdriver and place it on top of the nail and hammer it in very carefully, then continue filling as normal. Once you have all of the holes filled, let them dry for an hour or two or ten or however many it says on your package.
After everything has completely dried, you are ready to sand. Woo hoo! You can use whatever kind of sander you want, or you can strap a piece of sandpaper to a block of wood for all I care. Take the 220 grit sandpaper and put it on the sander of your choice. sand each surface smooth going back and forth with the grain of the wood, rather than side to side. You can also smooth out the corners slightly and the edges that meet up on the bevel. Unless you are a very good woodworker (and I'm sure some of you are), these edges will need a little refining. Don't get too ridiculous though, you still want to have nice crisp corners. Do this to each piece until you are satisfied with the finish. Make sure you sand the entire surface. The point is not to smooth it out (the planks are already pretty smooth from the initial planing phase these boards go through), but rather to roughen each surface to an equal texture, that stain or paint can be applied to it easily.
After you have sanded all of the pieces inside and out, you should probably go have a drink or something. Speaking of which, you should be doing this work outside or in a woodshop, but I hope you figured that out already.
The last step in this process is to clean clean clean each piece, making sure there aren't any stray particles or dust specks floating around. This can ruin your finish if it is not cleaned completely.
Step 14: Staining and Finishing.
You can use whichever finish you like, with a stain and polyurethane topcoat or just paint it, or if you want to be really creative, slap on a few coats of gesso and get out the oil paints and make them into works of art!
If you plan on using stain, the outcome will be tremendous when applied to rosewood, cherry, or oak. The result is mixed with pine and other of the softer woods. Pine is incredibly absorbent to stain, and as a result can appear very blotchy in some areas. There is no telling where this will happen, but the fact of the matter is that it does, so just be aware of this. There are products on the market now that supposedly eliminate this problem, but I have never tried it out. I encourage you to do so though, and report back to me with your results. It can still turn out wonderfully, though. But, if you are nervous about it, and even if you're not, it would be a good idea to test the stain out first to make sure you like it. Remember those several large pieces of scrapwood we had? Now is the time to use them. sand one surface of it down just the same as the other boards, and try out the stain. if you're happy with it, then continue on.
To apply the stain, make sure all of your surfaces are clean of debris and dust particles, etc, as I mentioned in the last step. Then taking a sponge brush, brush the stain directly onto the surface, again going with the grain of the wood. (Don't get too crazy with the stain, you want to apply it very lightly. This is the one case where you would rather have not enough than too much. You can always add another coat.) And just about as soon as you brush stain on the surface, you wipe it off with a clean rag. Repeat, repeat, and repeat. Then allow it proper time to dry, and apply the topcoat.
Throw on some DVD's and voila! You're done! Sit back and enjoy your handy work. Not only does your shelf look classy, it is a throwback to your childhood of playing nintendo. Can you smell the awesome?
Thanks for checking out this how-to! If you like it, please share it with your friends!
Godspeed, and don't forget your goggles.