Introduction: DIY Shelves

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

I created myself a little challenge. My goal was to make simple and elegant shelves for my office using only a minimal amount of materials readily found around my workplace. I strove to use a minimum amount of tools and to complete this task as quickly as possible.

From start to finish this took precisely 96:09 minutes. I arrived at that number because that is the combined length of the Flaming Lips' album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Bob Dylan's infamous, The Times They are a-Changin' and the first song off of Elliott Smith's album Figure 8.

The only materials I used were two pre-cut acrylic sheets, a thin extruded aluminum bar, decorative ribbon, wool yarn and four wood screws. The tools that were used include a hacksaw, a pair of scissors, a screwdriver, a ladder and two office chairs.

Follows is what I did and how I did it.

Step 1: Problem Solving

Identify where you need shelves. In my case, I was standing around after work thinking about how I would like to get some of the junk off my shelf and realizing I had no shelving in my office. I resolves to build shelves in my office. Since I figured there was very little in the way of construction material lying around, I resolved to hang them from the ceiling.

Step 2: Gather Materials

Gather all of the materials that you think you will need.

In this case it involved:

- aluminum extrusion
- pre-cut acrylic
- ribbon
- yarn
- 4 wood screws
- 2 chairs
- a ladder
- a screwdriver
- a hacksaw
- scissors

Step 3: Cut the Aluminum

Place the acrylic in the aluminum bracket and use this as your guide as to where to start cutting. I think my piece of aluminum was 96". I was able to make 4 aluminum brackets which was enough for two shelves.

Step 4: Tension

Insert your cut acrylic between two of the aluminum extrusions.

Pull your ribbon through the center of one piece of extruded aluminum and back through the center of the other.

At one end tie a loop. I tied mine using a figure 8 knot. Cut the ribbon free from the spool leaving a few extra inches worth. Pass these extra inches through the loop and then pull it back to create a high tension.

Tie the free end of the ribbon to the taught part of the cord using a slipknot and pull it until very tight. You should now have an assembled shelf.

Step 5: Prepare to Hang

I spent most of my time looking for string, but all I was able to find was a spool of wool yarn and so yarn is what I used.

What I did was pass the yarn one way through one side of the aluminum extrusion. Once I got it through, I wrapped it around a chair leg and pulled it back through the other way.

The yarn should now be doubled up (i.e. passed through twice). Grab both strings on both ends and pull them until you have an equal amount of yarn about six to ten feet long on each side.

One side should have two loose ends. Knot these loose ends together.

Repeat the entire process for the aluminum bar on the other side of the shelf.

Step 6: Hang

If you are lucky enough to have beams on the ceiling to tie your yarn around, then you are good to go. Tie the yarn coming out of the two extrusion on one end around one of the beams as close to the wall as possible. Hold the yarn coming out of the other two extrusions and from atop the ladder adjust the strings until your shelves appear level and tie them around an adjacent beam.

If you don't have beams, you can insert two wood screws near the ceiling into one of the studs. To attach the string, just wrap it around the screws a few times and then knot it to itself a few times.

Step 7: Leap of Faith

Place some stuff on your bookshelves (books perhaps?) and see how they hold up.