Introduction: Build a Tetris DVD (or Book) Shelf

This instructable will involve creating a DVD/book shelf that is stackable in any number of configurations. You may recognize these pieces from something ;) This tutorial borrows the various pieces from Tetris and allows you to make a unique and classy DVD shelf that looks great and will fit into whatever space you put it in. Here we see the finished assembled shelf that I put together. Read on to see how it was built!

One final note before we get started. This project does not require a tremendous amount of skill, though it would be very helpful to have experience with some woodworking beforehand, for obvious reasons.

Step 1: Got Wood?

For this project, I opted to use a nice solid pine wood. The primary reason for this is simply a matter of expenses. I spent about 85 dollars on the wood whereas if I were to use a nice red oak or rosewood or maple, or something of that nature, I would easily have spent over 200 dollars in wood. You need to make SURE that you have straight boards though. The easiest way to tell is to look straight down the full length of the board. You will see if there are warps in it. It is important that we get straight wood because these pieces need to be able to stack nicely on each other, and if our wood is warped, it would be like a canoe on a dock.

Since this is a DVD case I opted to make it 8" wide for a good movie holder size and to save a little bit on costs. If you get the 10" , you will have more stackable configurations available to you, as you will be able to stack them perpendicularly as well. You still technically could, but it would have some overhang. So on with the materials.

Step 2: Materials

To build one full set of pieces, you will need:
- Six 1" x 8" x 8' planks of wood ( whatever kind of wood you prefer. If you can afford it, I highly recommend Red Oak or Rosewood). This totals to about 48' . This is enough to make all of the pieces with a few feet leftover for mistakes. *Always plan for mistakes!!!*
- Wood Putty (preferably one similar to the color of the wood, it's next to the stain at Lowe's or Home Depot)
- Wood Glue (but only if you want the thing to stay in one piece)
- Sandpaper, 220 grit.
- A stain and varnish (polyurethane) of your choice, as well as cloths/brushes and such to go with it. (more on stains to use later) or paint, if you prefer.
- A nail gun with nails long enough to hold the pieces together at a 90 degree angle ( 1 1/4" worked great)
- Table saw
- Miter (mitre) saw (this isn't totally necessary, but is but will come in extremely handy for some of the pieces)
- Possibly other things I am forgetting right now.
- You will of course need transportation for the wood as well. Hopefully if you don't have a truck, you at least have a sunroof like me. Don't let the pieces sit in there like that for very long, or they will warp.

Step 3: Measure Up!

The first thing we need to do is figure out the right measurements. There are five pieces that we need to build for one set. you can build as many sets as you choose, but you're going to have to do your own math there. I have attached a quick drawing of said five pieces that we will construct. They are all in a nice block format, all in increments of the same amount. The lengths of wood needed are 10", 20", 30", and 40".

HOWEVER, there is something important to note here. The length that is measured is the length of the flat surface that will be on the OUTSIDE of the tetris shape. This means that some pieces will have an overall length somewhat longer than 10 or 20 inches. You will see as we get into it what I mean (and this is where the miter saw comes in pretty handy).

Forgive my lack of drawing abilities, but you can see the crude drawing I made, with one color representing each size and shape of piece you will need.

As you see, you need 2 blue ones (30"), 2 purple ones (40"), 7 orange ones and 1 red one (20"), 9 green and 9 yellow ones (10").

Step 4: Measure and Cut

You are almost ready for your first cut! The thing now to do is take your first board on over to miter saw. If you have one slightly curved board, these first pieces will be the ones to use them on. Since they will only be 10" long, they will be the least likely to warp over time or give you problems later on.

First set the miter saw to a 45 degree angle as you see. If you've got safety goggles, put em on, because sawdust goes in your eyes. But if you like the feeling of sawdust in your eyes, then by all means, leave them off. Now make your first test cut a couple of inches off the edge of the board, just so you can see what we're going to be dealing with.

Once you have done this, measure exactly (or as close to exact as you can get) 10" from the right edge of the blade, and mark that spot right on the miter saw. Move the board to that position, make sure it is level, pray to whatever god or gods you pray to and make the cut. You now have your first 10" piece. Next slide the board to that same exact spot, and cut again. Do this until you get to the last piece on that board. In all, you should have been able to fit nine pieces on there with a few leftover scraps, as shown.

Still have all 10 fingers? Good! Let's carry on.

Step 5: Cut the Rest

Now that you've gotten the hang of it, use the next board to cut the other nine 10" pieces, but do it the exact same way. We will take care of the opposite angle on the table saw.

From there, move on to the 20" boards (I hope you marked out 20, 30 and 40 inches on the miter saw). You can fit four 20" pieces on one length of board, and the other three on the next board. This will leave you approximately 26" of leftover scrap. don't throw it away, put it to the side. you might need it later.

At this point, you should still have two untouched boards. Cut the two 30" on one (save the scrap again), and the two 40" pieces on the other board (and save the scrap). You now have all of the pieces cut to length. However, you may have noticed something. They are all going parallel ( / / ) instead of perpendicular like many of the boards require ( / \ ). Fear not! This is why we are moving to the table saw next.

Step 6: The Table Saw

Here we are at the table saw. Take nine of your now eighteen 10" boards and move them aside, because they are cut correctly. Adjust the table saw so a 45 degree angle titled toward the wood. Set the height so that the saw blade is just barely above the height of the wood. You don't want to lose a finger. The guide on the right side of the board has a handy little measuring tool, so adjust it to exactly 10". with the long end at the bottom, cut the board using a scrap piece first to test it. Look good? Okay, then continue. Take each of those boards in that stack and run them through the machine one by one. Do both sides so they are trimmed nice and evenly. With those guides you should be able to get them through no problem.

Next, do the same with six of the 20" boards (remember the 7th is already correctly cut). If your table saw is not large enough to cut the 30" and 40" boards like this, then you take it back to the miter saw and just flip it around. but be SURE that the cut goes on the right side and that you don't cut it too short. Remember the rule, measure five times, cut once.

Congratulations, you have now done the hard part. There is just one more thing we need to cut in order to make these pieces perfect.

Step 7: Ripping the Boards

I'm not entirely sure if this is the "proper" term to use, but essentially what we are going to do is add a bevel to these boards so that when assembled, they look more like tetris pieces. It just adds a little bit of dimensional class. You can skip this step if you so desire, but I have to tell you it contributes a whole lot to the final look.

After you are done cutting all the boards at length, adjust the angle to about 30 degrees for the bevel. Adjust the blade to be lower once again. You can see in this image that mine is too high. Set the width of the board (the guide on the right hand side) to be 7.5 inches wide. Then just guide each of the boards through (length-wise!) to give it that beveled edge. On the perpendicular pieces ( / \ ) you want to make SURE that the longer edge is on the bottom, otherwise it will be backwards. This spells bad things, obviously. For the parallel pieces, either way is fine, since those are reversible. Anyway, just do this process to all of the boards and you are FINALLY done cutting.

Put the blade down, clean the table and get out the nail gun, we're ready to assemble.

Step 8: Assembling the First Piece.

The best way to assemble the pieces is in order of difficulty. We will start with the easiest piece first (the square) and gradually work our way to the most difficult, so that we are not overwhelmed.

The first pieces are always the hardest. There are a few tricks you can try to ensure you get a 90 degree angle. The best and easiest way to do it is to set the edges that are going to become the outside corners right up next to each other. apply masking tape to these edges so you create sort of a hinge. From there, apply wood glue to both sides of the pieces being stuck together, and close them up. Make sure your nail gun has nails and the pressure is on the air compressor and it's ready to go. Make sure that the edges line up and that everything looks square and shoot your first holes. The nails only purpose is to hold the boards together while the glue dries. We will cover the holes these create later.

I like to nail three on one edge of the board, then switch to the other edge and do two nails in between the others (as shown). After the first two pieces are together, just repeat the same process. It gets easier now that you have some leverage from the other pieces. On the final piece, you can either do both edges at the same time, or just one at a time. The reason I say this is because for the 20" board, you have enough room to move the last edge to apply the glue. This is not the case with 10" boards.

And now you officially have your first tetris piece done.

Step 9: The Rectangle

Next up is the rectangle. You will need two 10" perpendicular boards and the two 40" boards. This piece is the same process as the Square, the only difference being, that the 40" length is going to make it slightly awkward to work with because it is so long. You can see I used a scrap piece of board to hold against the back of the small piece to get the other 40" board to square up with it. It is important to do both 40" sides before the last 10" side, because it will be a LOT easier to assemble the last piece.

When you get to the last 10" board, apply glue to both edges of that board and both edges of the 40" board. Assemble it and nail both sides at the same time. It is kind of funny that the easiest parts to assemble are the ones that require twice as many nails.

And you now have your square and your rectangle. Always wipe the excess glue that drips off the boards, but don't worry too much because it will come off in the sanding stage.

Step 10: The L

The next board we want to work on is the L-shaped one. This is where it begins to get tricky, as we use our first parallel 10" piece (and our only 20" parallel piece, for that matter). So the pieces you will need for this one: one 10" parallel, two 10" perpendicular, one 20" parallel, one 20" perpendicular, and one 30" piece, as shown below.

Start by connecting the 10" perpendicular pience to the 20" perpendicular piece, and work your way around the L clockwise. It might be a good idea for you to assemble the two parallel pieces (the interior corner of the L) in a different piece from the rest, because those are the hardest to nail in place (see picture). My nailgun only barely fit, and I didn't think to assemble that part before the rest until after I was done with the whole project (isn't that always how it works out...). But once you do that, just continue assembling as normal and voila! finished L.

Three down, two to go...

Step 11: The T

The T is probably my favorite tetris piece (it's not too nerdy to have a favorite tetris piece, is it?) although it is one of the hardest to assemble. This one required the largest number of pieces: three 10" perpendiculars, four 10" parallels, and one 30" piece.

Using the picture as shown (as an upside down T), the order of assembly that I recommend you use is this: construct the bottom three pieces first. Then separately do both of your interior corner pieces the same way we did the L shape, and connect both of those to the bottom section. At this point, you just plop the 10" perpendicular on top and assemble it as normal. This is the coolest piece, so I felt the most pride when I put it together.

Our assembled shelf is finally starting to take shape!

Step 12: The Dreaded S

Now we are on to the last piece which is the most difficult one to assemble, but really it's not a lot more difficult than the last piece if you do it the way we have been in the tutorial. but if you do each piece individually like I did, then it becomes a bit of a pain. A lot of a pain, if you want me to be completely honest with you. Since this is the last piece, we should be using each of the remaining pieces we have left. But in case you don't have all of those pieces, you will need to fix that.

Assemble this one any way you like. I did it the wrong way though, I will tell you that much. Assembling the interior pieces and then the 20" pieces followed by the 10" outside pieces seems to be the way to go. You may be able to tell from this photo, but one of my pieces was about 1/4" too long, and as a result, the top part of the S is tilted. The reason this happened is because I miscounted when I originally cut the pieces, and I was missing one 10" piece. So I lined it up to the old line as best I could and cut, but it was still just ever so slightly off.

This will stress the importance of cutting all the pieces at the same time. Normally on woodworking projects you cut pieces as you go, but it is so important that these pieces be exactly the same that you pretty much have to cut everything at once.

In any case, they all more or less fit (the S fits perfectly if you flip it around and use the other side) and we are now officially done with the building phase.

Step 13: Filling and Sanding

Now that we've finished assembling all the pieces, we need to give them a nice finish. The first thing to do, though, is to fill all those nail holes you created. Get out your wood filler and a good putty knife, or even a plastic knife will work fine. This part isn't rocket science. Take the wood filler (and mix it, if it requires mixing. Different brands have different instructions, so make sure you pay attention to those), and fill each nail hole, overfilling only slightly. Do this to each of the 100+ holes on each of the pieces.

Chances are you will have one or two nails that didn't go quite the whole way. Just get a fine screwdriver and place it on top of the nail and hammer it in very carefully, then continue filling as normal. Once you have all of the holes filled, let them dry for an hour or two or ten or however many it says on your package.

After everything has completely dried, you are ready to sand. Woo hoo! You can use whatever kind of sander you want, or you can strap a piece of sandpaper to a block of wood for all I care. Take the 220 grit sandpaper and put it on the sander of your choice. sand each surface smooth going back and forth with the grain of the wood, rather than side to side. You can also smooth out the corners slightly and the edges that meet up on the bevel. Unless you are a very good woodworker (and I'm sure some of you are), these edges will need a little refining. Don't get too ridiculous though, you still want to have nice crisp corners. Do this to each piece until you are satisfied with the finish. Make sure you sand the entire surface. The point is not to smooth it out (the planks are already pretty smooth from the initial planing phase these boards go through), but rather to roughen each surface to an equal texture, that stain or paint can be applied to it easily.

After you have sanded all of the pieces inside and out, you should probably go have a drink or something. Speaking of which, you should be doing this work outside or in a woodshop, but I hope you figured that out already.

The last step in this process is to clean clean clean each piece, making sure there aren't any stray particles or dust specks floating around. This can ruin your finish if it is not cleaned completely.

Step 14: Staining and Finishing.

Unfortunately, at this point I no longer had access to a camera, so I can't show you the finished stained shelf, however, I would still like to discuss it a bit.

You can use whichever finish you like, with a stain and polyurethane topcoat or just paint it, or if you want to be really creative, slap on a few coats of gesso and get out the oil paints and make them into works of art!

If you plan on using stain, the outcome will be tremendous when applied to rosewood, cherry, or oak. The result is mixed with pine and other of the softer woods. Pine is incredibly absorbent to stain, and as a result can appear very blotchy in some areas. There is no telling where this will happen, but the fact of the matter is that it does, so just be aware of this. There are products on the market now that supposedly eliminate this problem, but I have never tried it out. I encourage you to do so though, and report back to me with your results. It can still turn out wonderfully, though. But, if you are nervous about it, and even if you're not, it would be a good idea to test the stain out first to make sure you like it. Remember those several large pieces of scrapwood we had? Now is the time to use them. sand one surface of it down just the same as the other boards, and try out the stain. if you're happy with it, then continue on.

To apply the stain, make sure all of your surfaces are clean of debris and dust particles, etc, as I mentioned in the last step. Then taking a sponge brush, brush the stain directly onto the surface, again going with the grain of the wood. (Don't get too crazy with the stain, you want to apply it very lightly. This is the one case where you would rather have not enough than too much. You can always add another coat.) And just about as soon as you brush stain on the surface, you wipe it off with a clean rag. Repeat, repeat, and repeat. Then allow it proper time to dry, and apply the topcoat.

Throw on some DVD's and voila! You're done! Sit back and enjoy your handy work. Not only does your shelf look classy, it is a throwback to your childhood of playing nintendo. Can you smell the awesome?

Thanks for checking out this how-to! If you like it, please share it with your friends!

Godspeed, and don't forget your goggles.

The Instructables Book Contest

Participated in the
The Instructables Book Contest