Introduction: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost! AND OTHER CONSTRUCTABLES OF INTEREST.
I have given only a few measurements because your requirements may be quite different from the size of shelves I was fabricating. Along with the written instructions and to provide more help, a lot of the photos have information embedded in them. At the end of this instructable are photos of other projects I have made in the past.
I decided that I would use some left-over cork ‘Click’ flooring panels to make a couple of almost floating shelves. I looked at floating shelving brackets in the stores and decided that they were not sturdy enough for what I was going to put on them. The shelf support brackets were too small and the torque forces on the mounting screws would be very high and could cause failure. Not only that, the walls in my house are ‘wavy’ and a store-bought bracket would not allow the shelf support tubes to stay parallel making it almost impossible for them to slide into mounting holes bored into the shelf. Because of these inherent problems, I decided to make my own supports by using steel right-angle utility brackets fitted into a wooden frame.
Step 1: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
When I was partway through this project, I almost wished I hadn’t started it. Maybe I hadn’t planned it out in enough detail or I’m getting old and forgetful. However, I persevered and took the project to completion. I made one shelf the length of one floor panel and the second the length of two panels. The maximum depth is 11”. The most important point to check is that the shelf supports are on 32” centres and that wall studs are in the place you want to install the shelf. It will probably be necessary to position your frame supports in a different position to mine and maybe have a piece of the frame overhanging these supports. The frames were made from 1”x2” (actually ¾” x 1½”) straight and un-warped pine and 5” right-angle utility brackets. One end of the brackets was slightly bent (due to the manufacturing process) and needed to be hammered flat. If you are making a long shelf using 2 lengths of floor paneling, do all the cutting before gluing them end-to-end.
Step 2: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
My shelves are 11” deep and used 2 pieces of ¾” x 1½” pine 10” long to make each of the short supports. (Use 2 for the short shelf and 3 for the long shelf). A groove the width of the metal brackets needed to be routed into one piece of each of the pine supports. (This grooving can also be done with a saw-bench ‘wobble’ blade, but be very careful as this is a rather dangerous type of cut!
Step 3: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
The two pieces were temporarily clamped together and test fitted for a bracket. The bracket should be a snug slide into the slot and not too lose. Cut a small 45° angle at the end of the grooved piece only to accommodate the curved bend of the bracket. Check that the back of the bracket is flush to the bottom piece of the support. If all is to your satisfaction, glue the grooved and un-grooved pieces together making sure that there is not too much glue which would run into the groove which would prevent the metal bracket from sliding into the slot. Don’t leave the metal bracket in the slot when gluing otherwise the bracket may become bonded into the slot preventing later adjustments of the bracket.
Step 4: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
I used ‘G’ type and spring-loaded clamps to clamp the pieces together. In the photo using ‘G’ clamps you will notice that a metal bracket is in the slot, but only as a last chance effort to ensure that the bracket still slides into the slot and to check that glue is not squeezing out over the bracket when it’s removed. If there is glue on the bracket when removed, clean it off and (if necessary) try to clean out any wet glue residue from inside the slot in the wood
I decided to paint the part of the bracket that was to be attached to the wall, with the same colour of the wall, but since they are galvanized, it was necessary to treat them with vinegar first and then spray them with an etching primer.
A WORD OF WARNING! If you use the spring-loaded clamps, be aware that they can fail catastrophically. While waiting for the glue to dry, I started to sweep my workshop floor. Suddenly, one of the clamps failed with a loud ‘crack’ and one piece brushed past my cheek while the other half brushed past my jeans. It happened so violently and fast that I didn’t see anything until after it happened, but if I had been an inch further forward, it would have torn into my cheek and nose. You never know where danger lurks!
Step 5: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
Once the pieces are glued, trim them together to be sure they are not only all the same length, but also the shorter piece is trimmed to take the longer ¾” x 1½” (width of shelf frame). Do the same thing at both ends, and in the case of the longer shelf, the middle as well. Attach the short bracket retainers to the long front ¾” x 1½” with glue and screw making sure that they are at right-angles to each other. I decided that at some point in the future, I would wire an outlet into the long shelf and fitted a single stove outlet into a metal support attached to the inside of the wooden frame. I also intend to install an LED strip light into the short shelf which is over my bed. This strip light will be powered by a long-life re-chargable battery pack and RF on/off remote control. I will add an ‘instructable’ for this when the ordered parts arrive.
Step 6: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
Anticipating that the unsupported bottom panel of the long shelf may sag a little, I installed (glued in place) 2 powerful rare-earth magnets into the inside of the bottom panel and installed 2 large-headed flat screws into the wooden frame matching the location of the magnets. An alternate idea would be to screw the finished installed shelf into the frame on the underside, but I didn’t want screws showing.
Step 7: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
The top and bottom panels were cut to the final size of shelf and as you will see from the pictures, I put masking tape on the ‘finished’ surface where the cuts were being done and a strip down the centre. The shelf end pieces were cut to the same length as the shelf depth, but with 1” added to their height. The front piece is cut to the shelf size plus 1” (½” for each end and top & bottom). These overlap edges will be trimmed down when the shelf is assembled and glued. They are trimmed down to the finished cork layer by using either a new box-cutter blade or a router. The knife method gives a cleaner trim finish.
Step 8: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
Once everything is assembled and glued and after trimming off the excess edges, you should sand the edges before staining.and varnishing.
Step 9: A FLOATING SHELF – Well Almost!
I used 2 coats of Minwax Pine stain on the cut trim edges and after waiting 5 to 10 minutes the Minwax was wiped off with a soft lint-free cloth. Ten minutes after the second coat, I 'painted' the entire shelf with the Minwax and after another 10 minutes, the 'wet' surfaces were wiped dry with the lint-free cloth and then allowed to dry overnight... Obviously, you cannot stain (or varnish) the entire shelf at one time. You need to do it one side at a time and wait for the side you have just done to dry completely. Once the entire shelf is stained, you should clear-coat it with a varathane or urathane varnish.
I will attempt to address any questions you may have.
Step 10: Other Constructables That May Be of Interest - CORK COVERED SINK UNIT.
The remaining photos are FYI and show other projects that I've done in the past but have no details of what I did.
The first 5 are how I used cork trimmed from other ‘Click’ flooring panels to cover a bathroom sink top. It has was done many years ago and coated with a urethane varnish and shows no sign of wear or water damage.
Step 11: Other Constructables That May Be of Interest - BAMBOO DOOR AND WINDOW TRIM
These photos show how I used 3” bamboo for door and window trim. They were attached by using and counter-boring #6 screws through the bamboo nodes and filling the counter-bore with plaster and then painting the same colour as the bamboo stems (Calms).
Step 12: Other Constructables That May Be of Interest - PIPE ORGAN SPEAKER
These two 2 photos show a “pipe organ speaker enclosure that I made some 30 years ago. I like pipe organ music and this speaker system with the lowest tuning of 32Hz reproduces a realistic reproduction of a pipe organ.
Step 13: Other Constructables That May Be of Interest - TIKI LAMP CONVERSION
These 4 photos show my conversion of a bamboo ‘Tiki’ lamp to electric. It provides a warm glow in turns on with my alarm clock and casts a warm light that doesn’t blind you when you first open your eyes.
This last bunch of photos which may, or may not be of interest, shows a progression of my restoration of an Italian Casalini 3 wheeled vehicle (also known as a Sulky). I restored this vehicle 7 or 8 years ago is how I chose my moniker for instructables..
I will attempt to address any questions you may have.