Introduction: Compression Shelf Room Divider

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Storing your stuff doesn't have to mean boxing it and putting it out of eyesight. You can balance your storage needs in your place by partitioning your space with a smart storage solution like the compression shelf room divider.

Using compression poles as the structure, rustic shelves were added to partition space and provide a platform to showcase items from your home. I used one side of this compression shelving as a place for coats and boots, and the other as a workstation that can be converted to an eating bar. Since you can place the shelves at any height I added some storage higher up to place plants and show off antiques and other collectibles; there's even a swing out shelf for my laptop, and one for my dog's food bowl.

This shelving system can be customized to fill any space, and you can apply a variety of treatments to the shelving to match your style.

Step 1: Design

After measuring the space I took the measurements into CAD software and started designing.

I loosely based my design around the idea that the room divider could act as a bar top work station. With this in mind I started drafting what the room divider might look like, trying different shelving combinations until I was happy with the results.

I took dimensions form the drawing to determine the wood I'd need for the shelving, then printed out the piece list to go to the lumber store. I've included my CAD drawing here in case you want to use it as a reference for your own design.

Step 2: Select Wood

I chose pine boards for my shelving as it is inexpensive and accessible at almost any lumber store.

Using my CAD drawing as a guide I went to the lumber store and got a few 1"x10" boards at 10' in length, and a few 1"x10" in 6' lengths. I wasn't picky about the condition of the boards, as I'd be refinishing them to look rusic and weathered, but all boards should be straight with minimal or no bowing.

Step 3: Drill Pole Openings

Using my computer design as a guide, I drilled the shelving openings to accept the compression poles. Following the printout I drilled all the openings, then cleaned up the edges with rough grit sandpaper.

Step 4: Distressing Wood

Pine wood doesn't really have an interesting appearance and wouldn't match the space it was going to be installed in, so I chose to distress (weather) the wood using a few techniques. The distressed wood will create divots in the wood which will stain darker and give the wood a very unique look.

I started my by dropping a handful of screws inside a denim apron and used it to bash the wood, creating divots.

After, I used a combination of threaded rod, hammer, and scrap piece of steel to further distress the wood. I also paid attention to the edges and ends to ensure the distressing covered the entire piece.

Step 5: Building Depth With Stains

To give these pine boards a more interesting appearance I stained them in layers to build up depth and character.

After distressing I applied a tea and vinegar solution to give an aged look, then applied a walnut stain to darken the boards, finally I applied a whitewash pickling stain which lightens the appearance and softens the stains underneath.

Step 6: Tea Staining Part 1

I have an Instructable on staining wood with tea, which gives it a nice dark patina.

Start by brew any black tea - I used Earl Grey. Let cool to room temperature, then apply the tea to the boards.

Step 7: Tea Staining Part 2

Next, steep steel wool in vinegar for a few hours. This makes iron acetate. Iron acetate produces hydrogen gas, so make sure you don't seal the container while the steel is steeping.

Apply the iron acetate solution liberally to the wood, you should notice a colour change almost immediately. The colour will darken aver the next few minutes.

Step 8: Walnut Stain

After the tea staining has dried completely I applied a water-based walnut stain.

A rag was soaked in water and then a small amount of walnut stain was added to the rag, the diluted stain was then applied to the boards and rubbed in. The divots from the distressing should be very visible now.

Step 9: Whitewash Pickling

The last layer of stain is a whitewash pickling solution, which will give the wood a ghostly and aged appearance and soften the appearance of the previous stain layers.

The whitewash was applied with a foam brush and immediately wiped off with a rag. If you leave the whitewash on too long the appearance will be too light. We want a hint of white, not a white painted layer.

Allow to dry completely. The brightness from the whitewash will fade some and the boards will be nicely, leaving the boards looking aged and worn.

Step 10: Start Assembly

Arrange the compression poles on the ground in the approximate location of your design. Carefully start adding the shelves in the order they need to be stacked, however instead of placing the shelves at the proper height locations leave them stacked up on one end of the poles - this will make it easier to stand up.

Place a collar in between each of the shelves on each pole and hand tighten.

Step 11: More Assembly

Continue placing shelves and collars, hand tightening as we'll be moving the stacked shelves after the unit is vertical. The exception is the last set of collars, these will need to be tightened completely so the shelves don't fall off when vertical.

Before stading upright, place the caps on each end of the compression poles.

Step 12: Stand Upright

You'll need a helper to stand up the shelving unit.

Once upright, extend the top poles to touch the ceiling.

Step 13: Square Poles

With your helper still holding the poles, use a level to ensure the poles are square.

Step 14: Tighten Bottom Nut

To hold the poles in place the bottom nut needs to be tightened. This nut will elevate the bottom of the pole and compress the top against the ceiling, creating a solid connection and holding the pole in place.

Repeat this for all poles.

Step 15: Arrange Shelves and Start Storing Stuff!

Once the poles are secure the shelves can be located at the heights desired.

Pull a shelf from the stack and pull it up to the height desired, then tighten the collar under the elevated shelf to hold in place. repeat the process for all shelves.

Step 16: Space (and Storage) Managed

These rustic looking shelves matched the apartment style perfectly, and partitioning a space with such high ceilings was no problem.

Depending on the treatment you give your shelves, and where you place your partition, there's no end to the variety or usefulness of your shelving room divider.