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This tutorial will show you how to make a hanging shelf out of rope and plywood.
This is a perfect solution if you are running out of desk space and you want to make a highly customizable unit for your documents and nicknacks.

To build this you will need:
Plywood (enough for 5 1x1ft squares)
      A table saw (or any tool for cutting wood)
      A drill (or any tool for drilling)
30 ft of strong rope (cotton works well, especially if it has a core)
      Shears (or any tool for cutting the rope)
      Tape for collecting the frayed ends (or a lighter if using synthetic rope)
A metal rod
      A clamp for bending it (or it can be done by hand)

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Step 1: Cut Wood

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You are going to want to end up with 5 pieces of 1ft x 1ft plywood.

Of course you should feel free to add more shelves or change the size. There are many places throughout the tutorial where you can customize the design, but I will not mention each one. It is really up to your discretion as a maker.

Step 2: Drill Holes

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Each board should have three holes.
I've placed mine a half inch away from the edge and made the holes 3/8" thick which is just larger than the diameter of the rope I have.

Step 3: Cut Rope to Length

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You will want to cut the rope into 15 pieces with some leftover. 
Each shelf is held up by 3 ropes, so you need 3 ropes of 5 different lengths, the difference between them being the height of each shelf.
I've made my shelf 2 ft high, but you need to leave around 4 inches for the knots on either end, so the longest rope is 32 in (24+4+4).
Therefore, I cut the rope into 3 x 32 in, 3 x 27 in, 3 x 22 in, 3 x 17 in, 3 x 12 in.

Step 4: Bend Rod

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Bend the rod into approximately a 1 ft circle.
If you tried something like this, with steel cables and crimps, instead of rope, it may be easier to level. Very cool idea.
jweissgold (author)  audreyobscura2 years ago
That's definitely a good idea. The biggest challenge I found using rope that stretches is to level the shelves, so if your want more precision, I'd suggest taking Audrey's suggestion and using steel cables. It would probably look cool too.