Introduction: Threaded Rod & Tension Wire Shelf

Picture of Threaded Rod & Tension Wire Shelf

I wanted large shelves to organize a small one car garage/shop area. Because I rent the space I didn't want to build something that would be large and bulky to move, so I opted for a shelf design that can be completely disassembled and uses no permanent fasteners (wood screws/ glued joints/ wall mounting). The idea was to use threaded rod as a base to build adjustable shelves around.

Step 1: Drill Clearance Holes for Threaded Rod

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I used two sheets of 1/2" plywood. I cut each piece down the middle to leave four 24" x 48" pieces. I clamped the four pieces together and drilled a hole in each corner using a 5/8" spade bit to form a very tight fit around the 5/8" rods the shelves sit on. each hole was 3" in and 3" over from the corners. After drilling the plywood, 2x4's were clamped to the plywood and 5/8" holes were drilled using the plywood as a stencil for the hole locations. To center the holes in the 2x4's I used two pieces of scap wood that were a combined 1 1/4" inches to center the 3" offset hole. The 2x4s are there to add extra rigidity. I tried using just plywood and the result was pretty bad when I put a sandbag ~50lbs) on it.

Step 2: Assemble Shelves

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Assembly is pretty straight forward. On the bottom I used female threaded rubber feet to screw onto the threaded rod. Over the feet put a nut, washer, a 2x4 , plywood (on top of 2x4), washer, and then 2 nuts. the second nut is used to restrain the tension wire loops. The second nut also helps when you go to cinch down the plywood to the 2x4 by acting as a jam nut and keeping the threaded rod from rotating instead of the nut. A great time saver is to create a "belt" to move the nuts down the threaded rod quickly to locate the shelves. I formed an endless band of electrical tape around the outside of my hand. wrap the tape around the chuck of the drill to create a low gear ratio to move the nuts fast. the electrical tape works great because you can "pull" on it a bit to create a good amount of tension to grab the nut. threading all the nuts by hand would have taken an eternity. This step may require a mallet to persuade the wood through the threaded rod...

Step 3: Add Tension Wire to Increase Rigidity

Picture of Add Tension Wire to Increase Rigidity

Without some sort of reinforcement these shelves would be pretty wobbly. By bracing the shelves with diagonal wire and turnbuckles the shelves become very rigid. I used 1/8" wire and crimp on ferrules and end stops. This type termination creates a sort of noose where the end stop keeps the wire from slipping out of the ferrule.This is definitely the hack way to create wire loops. Technically you should use a thimble to reduce stress/bend radius of the wire, but for a lower tension use like shelving it should work fine. To cut the wire I used a dremel cut off wheel. To crimp the end stops I used vice grip pliers. Keep in mind vice grip pliers are not the correct tool to crimp an end stop onto the wire rope (neither is a hammer). If you intend on using tension wire near its rated tension values you should use a swaging tool. For shelving which doesn't require super high tension using pliers shouldn't present any problems (other than sore hands ! ). I put tension wire on both the length and width of the shelves, obviously leaving the front open so I could put stuff on it.

Step 4: Put Your Junk on It

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Enough said. Use your new shelves for storage.