I would like to preface by saying that I have built a few skate ramps and tree forts in the past, but this is my first foray into furniture design and construction, so YMMV
Step 1: Materials & Tools
4 - 1x10 boards @ 10' long
1 - 1x6 boards @ 8' long
1 - box of #8 1 1/2" wood screws (75 were in my box)
12 or more 2" finishing nails
Sandpaper in varying grits 80,120,240,320
wood filler or plugs (I used filler, but in the future I think I'll try plugs) or you could just leave the screws exposed if you wanted to?
Pre-stain wood conditioner
Loud music to keep you motivated.
Speed square (got mine for 3.99, best tool ever)
Saw ( i used a chop saw, but pretty much any wood cutting saw will work I suppose)
#8 Countersink drill bit (if you plan to countersink your screws)
Regular 5/32" drill bit
Electric sander (unless you want to sand by hand for days, or leave it kind of rough and rustic?)
Brushes/rags for your stain/finish
Total cost for this should be around $100 or less. I ended up spending ~ $140, but I bought more boards for another project, and way WAY too much pre-stain, stain, and poly ( I have enough for 2 more of these shelves...).
Step 2: Cut List
From the 1x10 boards we need
6 @ 54"
9 @ 12"
6 @ 5 1/2"
From the 1x6 board we need
3 @ 25 1/2"
A note about lumber sizes: In the past I thought 2x4s were 2 inches by 4 inches, and 1x10s were 1 inch by 10 inches, boy was I wrong. I won't get into the details as to why the industry does this, but I will point out that the 1x10s are actually 3/4" by 9 1/4" and the 1x6 is actually 3/4" by 5 1/2". I found a webpage that I use to quickly reference the actual lumber sizes at the following:
I don't endorse them , or really know much about the purveyors of that website, I just know that it's a nice reference chart.
Step 3: Pre-drilling your screw holes
For the 54" main shelf parts we will be drilling 3 holes at 3/8" in from the edge, so that they center over the side boards.
I came in 1' from each side and put one at the center which was 4 5/8". Do this for 5 of the 6 shelf boards, and only do the end drilling for the top board.
Next, I drilled 2 holes 13 7/8" from the end and 2" in from either side. These are where the base and mid pieces will attach.
Third, I drilled a hole in the center of the board at 27" from the end and 4 5/8" from the edge. This also attaches to the mid/base pieces. ( you may want to instead do 2 equidistant holes instead of the one for a flusher fit, as I did have a paper thin gap in a couple places after construction, but it still looks fine)
For the mid/base pieces I drilled the 5 1/2" boards 1 1/2" from the top and bottom centered at 4 5/8"
Step 4: Base Construction
Attach the 5 1/2" pieces to the ends of the 1x6 boards that we cut to 25 1/2".
I found it helpful to mark a line on the back of the side pieces at 4 1/4" to line up the edge to the middle pieces.
Square it up with your handy speed square, and drill using the skinny bit through the existing hole and into the next piece, you want to go about 1/4" to 1/2" into the next piece.
Screw the pieces together, then square it up, drill and screw the second hole.
Repeat for the other side, and do all three.
Step 5: Shelf Construction
Take one of your pre-drilled 54" boards and a 12" side board, and square them up at the end.
Starting with the center hole, I used my finger on the outside edge to feel that it was flush, and then drilled and screwed as before.
I followed up at each corner hole, and as I mentioned before, it took a little bit of force to get it square because my wood was a wee bit crooked.
Repeat at the other end, so that you have a U shape like the image.
You will need 3 of these.
Step 6: Assembly
Attach your U shape to your base piece. Set it on top and line it up with your pre-drilled holes.
From the outside edge of the U piece to the outside edge of the base piece should be 13 1/2".
make sure that everything is nice and flush then start at one end and square, drill, then screw as before, 1 screw hole at a time.
Make sure to flush and square as you go.
Next attach a base piece to the top of a shelf board. You will need 2 assemblies like this.
Pic 3 - 6
Just build it up in sequence.
Attach the top board. We're getting close people!
Step 7: Adding the partitions
The partitions line up with the base/mid pieces to make a nice straight line. Measure 12 3/4" from the inside face of the side of the shelf and make a little mark. Do this for both sides, and then ease in the partition piece (or you can just eyeball it which is what I did). You may need a helper to pull out on the upper and lower shelves so you can slide it into place without having to force it and mess up the wood.
Use your speed square to make sure it's square and have your helper hold a piece of flat scrap wood across the back, so you don't knock it out of flush. Hammer in your finish nail at a 45ish degree angle up through the end of the partition and into the shelf. Be careful not to miss and smash your wood (which I may or may not have done more than once) and keep it straight so you don't come out on the side. Once it gets most of the way in, you can use a small philips head screwdriver on the head of the nail, and hammer it just below the surface. There's a tool for this, but I don't have one, hence the screwdriver.
Repeat at the bottom, then do the same on the back side.
Repeat for the remaining 2 partitions. I ended up with it not being quite flush on one side, and was able to fix it by laying a flat scrap piece across (as I had my helper/gf do) and gently tapping with a mallet.
Marvel at your amazing skills!
Step 8: Almost finished!
So now you need to sand it. The roughness of your boards will determine what grit to start with.
Since I used boards with a pretty good face I was able to start at 120 grit; however, I did use a little bit of 80 grit to flatten out the areas where my edges weren't quite flush. Then went to 120, 240, and finally 320.
Step 9: Finish?
My finish consisted of 1 coat of pre-stain conditioner, then 2 coats of Minwax oil-based ebony stain, followed by 2 coats of polyurethane. Although my finish wasn't bad, I've decided that I don't like the look of ebony on pine, and should have opted for walnut or something else a little lighter.
Some notes on what I learned making this shelf:
If I were to do it over again, there are a few changes that I would make.
Firstly, I would have gone with a different finish, the dark ebony stain highlighted my little mistakes. The stain also created a bit of a contrast on the "butt" joints that I used in the construction due to the exposed end grain. What looked fine in a light color, ultimately disappointed me once it was so dark.
Secondly, and as a result of the previous, I would have used mitered joints for a cleaner look. I also would have used dowel plugs instead of the wood filler over my screw holes which would have helped both aesthetically and logistically, as I could have stained/finished my boards, then assembled and covered my screw holes. I didn't choose miters to begin with though, because it seemed above my current skill level.
Finally, since I normally prefer a dark stain, I probably would have used a different type of wood. This was a first project, however, so I went with pine because it was the least expensive.
I hope that you enjoyed my first instructable. If you use it, or take inspiration from it, please share so I can see yours. Also, I appreciate any constructive criticism and/or tips with regard to the shelf. Thanks.