Introduction: Bat-Shelf

About: I started a wood shop during the Summer of 2009, and have been teaching myself techniques and skills through the project's I've built, both for myself and for others. Since then, I've added leatherworking, 3D…

This was a custom ordered shelf for two roommates who love Batman, and a personal favorite to work on.

In fact, I liked the final result so much that I made myself a plaque in the shape of the shelf to hang on my wall, as a tribute.  


large piece of 3/4" plywood 
dry wall screws
wood glue
paint (black)

Step 1: Draft It Out

This project needs to at least a little thought through in order to come out with a good result.  I drew up a quick sketch and approximate dimensions that would be realistic.  As a template, I used the most recent Batman movie bat signal design (from Dark Knight), because of the flat wings.  

I found a picture of the symbol online, photoshopped it, blew it up to scale, and printed it out on multiple pieces of paper, and taped them together, and then taped that to the plywood.

(I attached the template that I used)

Step 2: Cut It Out.

Once the first bat-symbol was cut out, I traced it onto the plywood to get the second cut out, and cut that out with my jig-saw as well.  I also cut out the two 90 degree supports, which are 4" long/wide, with an approximated curve.

Take care to cut around the bat ear parts, or else one of them can easily be severed.

NOTE: For building the plaque, just cut out one bat symbol, and follow steps 3, 4, and 7.

Step 3: Sand It Down.

After I cut everything out, I clamped the two bat symbols together in order to evenly sand down the edges, for which I used both sand paper and files.

For the surfaces I used my power sander, using first 120, and then 220 grit.

You have to chose here which bat will be mounted to the wall, and which will be the horizontal shelf part - the horizontal one should be sanded more on the edges because it will be facing people who pass by (Batman wouldn't want anyone to lose an eye...)

Step 4: Make the Hanging Slots

I've already explained how to make these in past instructables (with a slot cutting router bit).

I made two of these slots symmetrically on both sides of the vertically oriented bat, approximately 1-1/2" from the top of the wings on either side of the head.

Step 5: Assemble the Shelf

The supports should be attached to the back panel first, with wood glue and 1-5/8" dry wall screws.  

I clamped the supports to the pannel, pilot drilled two holes approximately 2" apart through the back of the panel into the supports, counter-bored the openings, added a dab of wood glue to both supports, and then screwed them to the panel.

The second picture here shows to to attach the horizontal panel to the vertical using the 90 degree supports, and screwing the wing tips flush together, (with wood glue lining the connection between all the wings). (1-5/8" screws again).

The screws should be flush with their respective curved walls, so that after painting they can blend in and lay smooth.

Step 6: Bat-Shelf Assembled

This is what it's supposed to look like completely assembled.  (Its a surprising amount of shelf space, definitely a good shelf to stack your comic books or action figures).

Step 7: Prime and Paint It

Again, for such a dynamic project with a good amount of surface area, I recommend spray primer and paint (Home Depot).  I chose a glossy paint because I thought regular would make the shelf seem boring, and also the shine gives off a comic book-esque glint.

I lay down the shelf as shown on some 2x4s, because the back of the shelf is always to the wall, so that part doesn't need to be painted.

Step 8: Secret Batarang Compartment (OPTIONAL)

I cut two secret compartments into the vertical panel of the shelf, where I hid two wooden batarangs as a surprise for the guys I built it.  Apparently I did a good job because they didn't notice the compartments for three weeks, at which point I couldn't take it any longer and showed it to them.  They were thrilled.

This was the hardest part of the project, and at one point it almost ruined one of the panels, so that why I consider this optional:

I made the two batarangs (much like the bat symbol panels) out of 1/8" plywood with my jig-saw.

Then, using drill bits that are at least 4" long, I drilled holes through the middle of the bottom of the wings (as shown), spanning the length of the batarangs.  After enough holes were drilled, I angled the drill bits so that they would laterally cut into the thin walls between the drilled holes, cutting out a compartment.  After that, it was a whole bunch of sanding the inner walls in order to fit the batarangs in.

A much, much simpler way to do it, (I think), would be to use a router and some sort of special router bit (neither of which I had at that point).  Any suggestions as to how to do this better are greatly appreciated.

Once the batarangs can fit comfortably, I cut out thin pieces of wood that matched the curve of the wing on the compartment, to act as the covers that could fit and be removed by using a blade or a nail (as seen in the attached images).  

Once painted black, it is very hard to distinguish the covers unless you are actually looking for them.