Introduction: FiSHELF - the Fish Bowl Book Shelf

About: Dad of two and habitual shed dweller

Please vote for this instructable in the Shelving contest.

My Daughter is getting through books like I get through rhubarb and custard sweets, trust my increasing waist line, that's fast.

So we wanted to make a shelf for above her bed but with a twist. She's also been wanting some pet fish for ages so I concocted the fiSHELF, a book shelf with a fish bowl incorporated into it.

The idea was that she could lay in bed and still be able to see the fishes doing their fishy thing, so I had the idea to sink the bowl into the shelf so that she could look up into it from below while laid on her bed.

Step 1: Making the Hole for the Bowl

I found a decent sized bowl and got a 33 x 220 mm plank (1 1/4" x 8 3/4"). I found the centre of the shelf and used the incredibly technical method of knocking a nail into the wood and tying a pencil to a length of attached string it at 100 mm and marking a circle on the board.

I set the base plate on my jig saw to a 45 degree angle, which roughly followed the contour of the bowl and set to cutting out a taped hole for the bowl to sit in. It came out a bit like a pumpkin top! The top edge of the cut was 10 mm wide and the under side was 40 mm.

I then flipped the shelf over and marked out a circle 10 mm wider than the hole I had first cut. I put the jig saw base plate back to 90 degrees and cut the 10 mm circle out. Once this was done I had a the tricky job of using the jigsaw to do a free hand cut from the top edge to the bottom. I did this because I could see that it would just allow the bowl to drop down a few extra centimetres.

I used a drum sander attachment on my rotary tool to finish the cut off nice and smooth and to give the edges some shape.

Step 2: Finishing the Shelf and Painting

Using my router I put a round over edge on the top and a roman ogee on the bottom. I sanded it down using 240 grit paper.

I was undecided about whether I should give the shelf a natural finish or painted. In the end I decided that a white gloss finish would go with any colour scheme we chose for the room in the future. I gave it a coat, rubbed it down lightly with the 240 grit and gave it a second coat.

Step 3: Making the Bookends

I wanted a couple of book ends and had recently seen JP'sW instructable showing how to transfer images to wood.

I decided to use this process to decorate the book ends with some of my daughters favourite book characters and a few children's author quotes.

I stared by drawing an A and Z onto a piece of 6" x 1/2" plank using a steel rule and a quick square to get them symmetrical and proportioned correctly then I added some little flourishes to the ends of the letters. When I was happy with the design I cut them out with the jigsaw and cleaned up the faces using an 80 grit belt on the belt sander.

I cleaned up the cuts and edges with a few files and sanded them and the face ready for the pictures to be transferred. I drew a template for the face of the letters, scanned it and then used that to drop the pictures and text (reversed) I wanted onto the template. I'm so efficient I scare myself sometimes.......

Some of the text rubbed off when I removed the paper, so I decided to go over it with a super fine permanent marker. I was really pleased with how it made the quote stand out so I went over them all. I smothered the wood and ink in danish oil when I was finished and started looking at how to fix them to the shelf.

Step 4: Fixing the Bookends

I fixed the bookends by marking four points on the centre line of the shelf under the base of them and then drilled down from the top of the shelf. I counter sank the holes about 4 mm and drilled pilot holes in the base of the bookends to match the holes on the shelf and screwed the bookends down to the shelf. I filled the holes with wood filler and, after sanding down, covered them and the rest of the underside of the shelf with a final coat of gloss.

Step 5: Hanging the Shelf

The wall the shelf was to be fixed to is a stud wall, so I stole my dads stud detector (I knew there was a reason I bought him it) and found four studs over the bed. I wanted to use four brackets so that there wasn't too much weight bearing down on the weak spots around the bowl hole.

Not too much to tell here I marked a horizontal line using a spirit level, fitted the brackets and then screwed the shelf to it.

Step 6: No Free Willies on My Watch....

I didn't want a aquatic godfather moment where my daughter wakes up with a dead fish on her pillow so I thought I had better make a lid for the bowl. Also we have a fat cat, enough said.

I had an old cut off from a perspex sheet, I covered it in masking tape and marked out an appropriate sized circle and cut it out using the jigsaw. It was a little scratched up so I gave it a frosting using 150 and 240 grit sand paper.

It needed an inlet for the filters air feed which I also cut using the jigsaw. I popped on a little knob handle and then realise that it could slide off quite easily so I cut a few small rectangles of persepex out and super glued them on the underneath so that it was wedged in place.

I stood back and realised that it now resembled a lone boobie........

(Once the pump was fitted the lid was surprisingly good at sound proofing the bubble noise)

Step 7: A Fishy Ending

A friend from work who knows his way round a fish tank, advised me about which fish to get and how to set up the tank. Aqua man as he will be here on referred to, also put my filter in his tank to supercharge it ready for our new arrivals. I ran a socket up to the shelf for the pump and we were good to go.

I had some clear sticky rubber dots which I placed around the bowl hole so that the glass wasn't pushing up against the wood. This left a small gap which I fed a set of copper string LEDs into as a nice light feature.

We went with mountain cloud minnows as Aqua man said they were a good beginner fish and quite hardy.

As you can see my daughter has a good view into the bottom of the bowl and really enjoys following the fish as they pass above and below the shelf! Next book for the shelf is an idiots guide to fish keeping.......

I hope you have enjoyed reading this instructable, if you have could you please vote for it in the Shelving contest.

Thank you!

Shelving Contest 2016

Participated in the
Shelving Contest 2016

Make it Glow Contest 2016

Participated in the
Make it Glow Contest 2016