Introduction: Hanging Shelves Made From Longboards
This is my first instructable, so bear with me. Any suggestions to improve it are very welcome.
I recently decided to get rid of my old DVD/Media shelves as I was tired of them and they took up too much floor space. After pondering a bit about a solution, I found this instructable:
Inspired by that design and also by not wanting to buy the tools to crimp cable ferrules, I came up with the idea of using shaft collars instead of crimp on cable ferrules. I then went even further and decided to incorporate my favorite activity, longboarding, by using longboards for the shelves. Read on to see how it all came together!
Step 1: Materials and Tools
First off, a materials list. I bought the cable and shaft collars from www.mcmaster.com. Part numbers are listed at the beginning of each item.
*Part # 3458T979 - 1/8" Diameter Stainless Steel Cable
*Part # 9414T3 - 1/8" ID Shaft Collar
*Wood For Shelves - I used blem longboards, you can use plywood, pine boards, etc..
*Wood Stain (I used black leather dye and Wipe-on Poly)
Now the tools list. It doesn't take much, but a few more specialty items are needed and are noted below.
*Pencil or Pen
*Tape Measure and/or Ruler
*Drill and/or Drill Press
*3/8" Forstner Drill Bit (Needed to recess holes for shaft collars)
*1/16" Allen wrench/driver (To tighten shaft collar set screws)
*Sander and/or Sand Paper
*Table Saw and/or Skill Saw (Only needed if you are making your shelves.)
*Bolt Cutters (Needed to cut the cable. Regular hand cutters won't cut it.)
Step 2: Design
Before you can begin, you need to figure out how big you want your shelves and how many of them you want, along with what you want their spacing to be. I recommend drawing out a plan so you can visualize what you want. I went with 7 shelves in a staggered pattern, but pretty much any configuration is possible.
A few things to keep in mind while you are designing your shelves is how they are going to hang. You will need to anchor them securely from the ceiling, so it would be a good idea to first figure out where the ceiling joists are with a stud finder. Then you can plan on having the shelves the correct length/width to hang from these joists.
I drew my plans up in AutoCAD and have attached pictures of them. In it you can see my computer desk, filing cabinet and other furniture that sits along the wall I hung the shelves against. Above them, you can see the shelves themselves. You can also see the dropped section of ceiling above where I mounted the shelves. More on this later.
Step 3: The Shelves
As stated before, I used blemished longboards for my shelves. I happen to work at www.TheLongboardStore.com, so I had access to several for cheap. You however, will more than likely not have this can of luck, so you will have to make your own or buy pre-made shelves. If you are ambitious enough to make your own, then you shouldn't need me explaining to you how to do it. Get some wood and get to it.
For those looking for an easier route or don't have the tools to make their own, pre made shelves can be bought from places like Lowes or Home Depot for relatively cheap. You'll find them in the closet organization section of the store. They usually come in a range of colors, so at least you aren't stuck with some ugly color you hate.
On to the holes. The boards I used already had holes drilled in them for mounting the longboard trucks, so I used those to run the cable through. One modification had to be made though and that was drill a 1/4" deep by 3/8" diameter hole into the bottom of the boards for the shaft collar to fit up into. This creates a nice flush bottom with nothing sticking out of the bottom of the shelf. The location of these holes will vary a bit depending on the size of your shelves, but I recommend putting them at least a 1/2" in from any sides and as wide ass possible for the best stability.
To do this, I used the aforementioned 3/8" Forstner bit. A Forstner bit for those who don't know creates a flat bottomed hole, unlike a regular drill bit. I used a drill press to drill all of these holes, but a hand drill could be used.
Since there were already holes in my boards, I was done. But for you, you will need to drill the rest of the way through the board so the cable can pass through. Use a 3/16" drill and place a block of wood under the shelf in the spot where you are drilling. This will keep the wood from splitting out when the drill breaks through the other side.
Final thing to do is give them a good sanding (unless they are pre-made and already have a finish) to remove any splinters or rough edges. This also prepares them for staining.
Step 4: Mounting Blocks
It took me a bit to figure out how I wanted to hang the cable from the ceiling. I originally planned on just putting an eye-bolt into a stud and running a cable thorough it and back down, but decided this was a bit ugly looking. I finally came up with the idea of using small wood blocks with recessed holes like the shelves have. This allowed me to put a shaft collar on the end of the cable and run the cable though the block, leaving no hardware shown on the front other than two mounting screws.
I cut the blocks out of 1/2" plywood that I had laying around, which is the same thickness as the longboards, so it worked nicely. I made two, one for each end of the shelf unit.
In addition to drilling the recessed holes for the cable and collars, I also drill two holes to use to screw the blocks to the ceiling. I countersunk the holes so the screws would sit nice and flush and out of sight. This isn't necessary, but it makes for a nicer look in my opinion.
For my application, the inner ends of the outside shelves were mounted to the dropped section of ceiling in my house. I did the same thing as the blocks, recessing the holes and adding two other holes for mounting screws. You probably won't have to do this unless you also have a recessed ceiling you want to hang from.
Step 5: Staining/ Painting
If you bought pre-made shelves that already have a finish, you can skip this step and move on to the next one. If you are staining your shelves, the color will all depend on you. Paint is another option.
As you can tell from other pictures, I went with a black finish on all the wood parts of the shelves. I tried some black wood stain first, but found it didn't create a deep enough black for me. Instead, I ended up using black leather dye. I had used it previously on another project with much success. And even better, I was able to get enough to do all the shelves for cheaper than it would have cost to buy stain. I put two coats of dye on everything and then allowed them to "vent" over night as leather dye smells quite a bit. I didn't worry too much about getting dye down into the holes as they won't be seen once everything is hung.
Over the dye I put on two coats of Wipe-On Poly made by Minwax. The stuff is super simple to use, just wipe it on. After the first coat, I sanded everything lightly with 0000 steel wool and applied another coat.
Step 6: Cables
Based off your design, cut the cable to the required lengths. I recommend adding an inch or two to the overall length so you have a little to play with if needed. It can always e trimmed later.
Use bolt cutters and you shouldn't have a problem. I bought a set from Harbor Freight for $5 on sale. These are them:
With all the cables cut, put collars on one end of each. Be sure to tight them down very tight as they are what will hold everything up. I highly recommend a good Allen driver that allows you to tighten the collars properly. Due to the size of the set screws, your average Allen wrench will like just strip.
Step 7: Hanging
Now that everything is prepared, it's time to hang it all up. I started by screwing the top two shelves to the dropped ceiling. Skip this if you aren't mounting your shelves like this. I used two 2-1/2" flathead (countersunk) screws up into the joists at the corner of the drop. Don't forget to first thread the cables through the holes and pull the collars into the recesses before you screw it in place. Surprisingly, these two screws were enough to hold the entire shelf long enough until I got the cables up on the opposite end, which was very helpful as I didn't need a second person to hold the shelf while I worked.
Next came the mounting blocks at each end. I mounted them the same way as I did the oposite ends of the shelf; two screws into the ceiling joists. Once again, thread the cables through before you mount them. Also be sure to mount these at the correct spacing to line up with the holes in your shelves.
With the cables strung, it's time to mount the shelves. Having a second person is a big help. Start by marking on the cable where you want the shelves to be, measuring from the top down. You can either mark one shelf at a time and mark the next after the previous one is hung or mark them all out first.
Place the first shelf onto the cables and have someone hold it above the top marks. Slide a collar onto each cable and tighten it down on your marks and let the shelf sit down onto them. You might have to guide the collars into their holes.
With the first shelf hung, place a level across the end to check for level front to back. If it is off, adjust the collars on that end up or down until it sits level. Next, place the level across the shelf widthwise to check side to side level. This time, adjust the collars on the opposite side until level. Lastly, check the front to back level on that side and adjust once more.
Continue with the other shelves until they are all hung.
Step 8: Finished!
Now that everything is hung up, pile on all your stuff and admire your hard work.
Keep in mind that these shelves will only hold a certain amount of weight. I'm not sure what the limit is, but I would err on the side of caution and keep it as light as possible. Use common sense. Don't use these shelves to display your bowling ball collection or organize all your gold bricks. They are inteded for light objects like DVD's or CD's. I take no responsibility if your shelves fall down because you over loaded them.
Step 9: Final Thoughts
A few things I would have changed if I were to do it again is to add a long strip of wood to the back of the shelf as a stop for DVD's and CD's. Possibly use double sided tape to keep them in place so they would be easily movable and configurable. I found that if I slide my DVD's all the way against the wall, the shelf tips backward from the weight. This is due to the cables being placed so close to center due to them being pre drilled. If I were to make new shelves, I would space the holes closer to the edges.
Another idea I had was instead of using rectangular shaped block for the cable mounts, make them the same shape as the longboards, just smaller. Could be a nice complimenting touch.
Thanks for reading everybody. I hope you find this instructable useful!