Introduction: Framed Picture That Turns Into a Shelf

It's a picture when you want it, a shelf when you need it.

I've got a projector that's pretty bad-ass, but it's a drag to have the projector and accompanying computer hogging space in the living room when there are people over. Moreover, it's a pain to set up a table or stand or something when you [I] want to watch something on said projector, and have to have cords lying everywhere. I hatched a plan to make a self-cloaking projector shelf; here's how it went down.

Step 1: The Problem

Here's what I didn't like. First world problem?  Uhh, yeah...yeah, very much so.

Step 2: Fabrication

The concept isn't too difficult - have a picture that's on hinges that can fold down, forming a shelf on the opposite side of said picture.  I had some scrap lumber lying around, and I got some 1X2's from the hardware store.

The lumber I had lying around was pretty crappy - pine with oil stains (it was shelving for my oily '78 750F Supersport parts) and cracks abound. I cut the shelving down to size, doing my best to cut the crappiest ends of the lumber off in the process.

I sanded it all down to make it look as good as possible and cut the 1X2's to strap the 1X12's together - which would form the load bearing part of the shelf.

I screwed one of the 1X2 straps onto the face of the shelves, then put down a clamp on the opposite side to suck the shelving together prior to screwing the other 1X2 strap on ( the pine was pretty badly warped, without that clamp there was about an 1/8th in gap).

I learned from my dad to apply liberal use of pilot holes, and especially since this is soft, thin pine that's prone to cracking I drilled a pilot hole for every screw that I put in.

After putting two straps on the shelves, I decided to put one in the middle.  I didn't have this middle strap in my initial plan, but I had enough lumber (the 1X2's came in 8 foot pieces rather than 6 foot pieces as I had planned, so I had some extra material) so I dropped it in.

Step 3: Design Problem

As with any project, there were unexpected road-bumps. Prior to any fabrication, I knew that as the shelf folded down, vertical clearance would turn into horizontal clearance -  which is to say that anything that hung down too far [down] past the hinge could bang into the wall when the shelf was in the horizontal position.

Despite realizing there was the potential for a problem, I didn't really do any calculations or measurements during the [brief] design phase.

Consequently, when I marked where the outside edge of the picture frame would be on a board and then put the hinge in place, you can see that the picture frame would have extended into the plan that the wall was in -  in other words the picture frame would've hit the wall and things would have gotten real bad had I mounted the hinges where I initially wanted.

I decided that the best fix would be to glue extenders onto the shelf, enabling me to mount the hinges such that the frame would clear the wall when the shelf was down.

In hindsight, it would've been much easier to not put extenders on and simply shift the frame of the picture up on the shelf fixture (thus decreasing the overhang that would hit the wall).  But with this solution, the straps wouldn't have been symmetrically mounted (the middle strap wouldn't have been in the middle of the picture frame).

However, the extenders allowed for extra thickness of wood - which was good because the screws I was using were that for gyp board - they were too long and with out the extenders, the screws affixing the hinges would've protruded out the other side of the 1X12's.

Step 4: Finishing Fabrication

After getting everything built, I put all the hardware on.  This included some latches to keep the picture form rather than unexpectedly unfolding into a shelf. Because of the mounting angles in combination with the angles that were fabricated into the latches themselves, with a minimal tug the latches came out of the eyelets that accepted them.  Because this would be a whole lot of not good, I further bent the latches to make a more positive connection with the eyelets.

I also mounted the screws and chain that would support the shelf when it was down.

Step 5: Mounting

After the fixture was all fabricated, I needed to mount the S.O.B.

I took this step just as seriously as the fabrication step; it would look stupid to have a semi-permenant picture on the wall that is semi-permanently off skew / not level. Perhaps more importantly, it would be really bad for some part of the shelf to fail - an expensive projector and computer would tumble to the ground, the wall would get damaged, and the hardwood floors would almost certainly get damaged.  Suffice it to say, a structural failure would not be awesome.

The first important bit was the placement of the fixture.  With a picture you can pretty easily level it or relocate it.  That would not be the case with this fixture, thusly I made a few measurements and figured out exactly where the picture would look good (that also corresponded with where I could put the projector).

Then I stacked up some big green tupperware lugs and added a box to get to the right height, and put the pictureframe / shelf atop so that it was ready to "hang." I put my 4' level on the shelf to get the whole fixture somewhat level to start with.

I pre-drilled the holes for drywall mount screws in the 1X2's that were to be mounted to the wall (wall straps), then I raised one of the wall straps up to the wall and marked on the wall where the holes were. Then I lowered the strap  and put the sheetrock mount into position to recieve the screws through the strap.  After this, I raised the 1X2 back up and put the screws through the holes, into the sheetrock hardware, thus mounting one of the two 1X2's onto the wall (sorry folks, I didn't  do a very good job of photographing this).

After doing one of the wall straps, I made sure that the shelf was level and then did the same process that was just described to mount the other wall strap.

With the wall straps secured to the wall, I figured out how long the chain needed to be on one of the sides so that the shelf was level, then I permanently affixed the chain to the picture sub-frame. Then I repeated this for the other side.

Done with mounting!

Step 6: Putting the Picture On

The middle strap on the picture sub-frame came in handy here. You can see that I clamped the picture to the sub frame, then adjusted it to make sure it was level.

It's not visible, but the picture is actually shifted a little on the sub frame. I did't get the entire shelf / frame positioned exactly where I wanted it, it was too far toward the grey wall by about an inch, so I shifted the picture about an inch to the right on the sub-frame to compensate for this.  Because I made the sub-frame a little smaller than the frame itselfs so that it wouldn't be visible, this was not a problem (and was actually a design feature).

I lowered the assembly into shelf form (with the picture clamped on) and screwed the picture frame onto the shlef / sub  - frame (after drilling pilot holes, naturally).

Step 7: Finished Product

I should mention - the picture in the frame is an original photo; it's a long exposure of the stars over a mountain lake. It's pretty dark, but it's a great pic by my man Nick Foster. Hat's off to you Nick!

I made it at TechShop in SF - check it out,