Introduction: Convert an Antique Fridge Into Bookshelves

I teach high school English. While I have enough shelf space I don't have windows. I've been trying to find ways to utilize my space in ways that bring life and color to my classroom.

Last spring I was joking with some students that if they did good enough work I'd put it up on my fridge. That's when I got this idea. I wanted to take an old fridge with a latch handle and use it as shelving for my class. I told another teacher in the school who used to run the drama dept (which is no longer active, sadly). She said I could have the old drama fridge. Thus the project began.

Step 1: Supplies

Old Fridge
Sand Paper
Scouring sponge
Angle Aluminum
Plexi Glass
Sheet Metal Screws
Spray Paint and Primer
Tape Measure
Hack Saw

Step 2: Find a Fridge

Ask around, scour craigslist and scavenge. You don't want a working fridge. Sometimes you can find these at antique stores, estate sales or even the side of the rode. Check in your city to see if there are any large item pickup days. That's the perfect day to drive around with a truck and pick up other people's junk.

If all else fails put a wanted ad on Craig's List. You'll never know where you'll find what you're looking for.

Don't worry about how ugly the fridge is. The uglier it is the more likely you'll get it for free. You're going to want to repaint it anyways.

Step 3: Clean the Fridge

Your fridge is probably gross

Clean it.

Mine had splattered paint all over it which was hard to get off. Don't worry about it too much. You just need it to be clean and smooth.

After you scrub the fridge inside and out run sand paper over the outside to rough it up a bit. This helps the spray paint adhere to the surface better.

Step 4: Measure by Measure

Figure out how you want to arrange your shelving. I chose to use basically the same layout that was already in my fridge. The original shelves were no good however. They were rusted out and not sturdy enough to hold up enough books.

Once you figure out your dimensions cut down the angle aluminum to fit around the sides using your hacksaw. I overlapped my angle aluminum for added rigidity.

Next cut down your plexi glass to size. I actually just had the guy at Lowes cut mine before I left the store. I used quarter inch thick plexi glass. Lighter than that was too floppy.

Step 5: Drill Baby Drill

Once you've got your shelving ready to install put each piece of angle aluminum in with one screw. First drill a hole in the aluminum. Next hold it against the side of the fridge and drill a hole in the sheet metal of the fridge. It should go through easily.

I prefer to attach the aluminum as I go with screws. I then drilled extra holes in the shelving once everything was in place.

Step 6: Go Paint

Take your fridge outside somewhere.

Make sure you're not going to make a mess.

I used spray paint to get a nice even color on the fridge. Start by using primer. I ended up needing two cans of primer and three cans of the paint.

Spray paint works best if you put down the second coat either shortly after the first or a few days after the first coat. It's your coat. I was on a timeline so I painted mine in about one hour.

Make sure you keep the can sufficiently away from the surface to avoid splotchy painting. Don't worry about getting it smooth on the first coat. That's what the second coat is for.

Step 7: Take It Back Inside and Put in Your Shelves

Once it's dry take it back inside and put in your shelves.

You might find that you need extra rigidity to keep the shelves from falling down. If so you can buy pieces of aluminum to run under the the plexi glass.

If so just lay those pieces across the shelves you made and put the glass down.

If you need more support run an extra piece of angle aluminum across the front of your glass and make your extra support run from back to front. Usually that will be a shorter distance.

Step 8: Load It Up

I've got books on three shelves in my fridge, notebook paper in the icebox and contruction paper on the bottom under the shelving. It's up to you what you do with this but it sure looks sweet!