Introduction: Hexagon Shelves With Magnetic Accessories

About: DIY and Making-Wood, Glass and More!

My two favorite mediums to work in are Stained Glass and Woodworking. For the longest time I wanted to find a way to combine the two. I thought it would be nice to make a design or frame out of wood, and then be able to change the stained glass without too much effort.

Magnets seemed to be the best way to achieve this, the only problem is- nearly ALL stained glass construction uses non-ferrous metals - aka they are not magnetic! The qualities that make these metals perfect for stained glass (malleability, corrosion resistant) make them terrible when trying to use magnets.

However, after a lot of head scratching I found a way to make it work- and it works great!

This instructable will be a springboard for ideas and less of an exact step by step tutorial. If you have wondered how you might attach projects using magnets, this should give you some helpful hints!

Things you will always need:

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Tape Measurer
  • Combination Square
  • Scissors
  • Safety Glasses

Things you will need to build the shelf:

  • Wood
  • Glue
  • Blue Tape
  • Planer, Table Saw, Nail Gun + Nails
  • Digital Angle Gauge
  • Clamps
  • Drill & Drill Bits
  • Hammer
  • Wooden Dowel
  • Center Punch
  • Hook Eye
  • White Chalk Paint

Things you will need for the Magnetic Accessories: (Or to Modify an Existing Shelf)

  • Magnets! (I used 2 types: small 6MM, and larger 1/2" with hook)
  • Tiny Screws
  • Morton "Strong Line"
  • 3/32 Brass "U" Channel
  • Copper Foil
  • Flux
  • Soldering Iron, Solder
  • Glass Cutter
  • Steel Screen
  • Tin Snips
  • Clear Glass, Mirror, Colored Glass
  • Coat Hook
  • Scrap Wood
  • Fid (used to enlarge the brass U Channel so the glass fits inside)
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers

Step 1: Build Shelf (Or Modify Existing)

I found some pallets that looked nice and planed them down to get a smooth surface.

I highly recommend using a digital angle gauge if you want to make accurate polygons with the table saw.For Hexagons, the saw needs to be tilted to 30 degrees, which is 60 degrees if you are referencing your blade off the table saw surface.

Create a stop so all your components are the same size. Go slowly (always with a table saw) to ensure the cuts are smooth and accurate. The easiest way I've found to assemble these types of shelf are to tape all the seams with blue tape. Take extra care to ensure the edges line up perfectly when you tape them together. Add glue to the edges, tape it up and nail it for reinforcement.

The number of clamps you need for a project are every clamp you own + one...

I decided to paint these shelves using a white chalk paint.

Step 2: Decisions, Decisions....

The beauty of using hexagons is there are infinite ways to arrange them. I had to test several before making the final decision and gluing them together.

Now is also a good time to decide on accessories to add inside the shelves...

Step 3: Add Magnets to Shelves + Secret Bonus!

I decided to place the magnets toward the back of each shelf, this way I could add something to the back but still have enough space to use the shelf.

I measured the location of each magnet, marked it with a punch, and drilled a hole just a little undersized. In total I used 30 magnets and glued them in place. I used a wooden dowel and a hammer to set the magnets flush or just below the surface of the wood.

Be sure to glue the magnets with the same polarity facing out! You don't want to mix negative and positive within a shelf, they should all be facing the same direction.

Because I have another type of magnet, I added secret screws to the bottom of each shelf towards the front (last photo). This will give the magnets with a hook a place to attach.

Step 4: Problem: Meet Solution

This is the magnet magic right here!

As I mentioned earlier, nearly ALL materials used in Stained Glass are non-ferrous metals. However, there is one material that you can add to your project that will make it magnetic. It's called "Strong Line" and is used to reinforce larger Stained Glass windows to prevent them from bending out of shape. It is a high strength steel that is coated with copper, so it can be soldered.

To use, just slide it inside the brass "U" channel or lead came. It can also be put underneath typical copper foil construction. (Photos 3 & 4)

Adding this steel reinforcing strip to your stained glass (or other) piece will make it magnetic! It is very small and low profile but quite sturdy.

Step 5: Building the Accessories for the Shelves

I had a hard time deciding what to include and what NOT to include when designing this project. I decided to focus on the stained glass portion because that is where the original idea was born.

I traced the inside of the hexagons and left enough space around the edges for the steel reinforcement and brass "U" channel. I then cut some clear glass, steel mesh, mirror, and colored glass to fit inside the hexagon shelf.

Once the pieces were cut out, I put the steel reinforcement around the edges and used brass "U" channel or copper foil around the edges. This way I created a magnetic:

  • Picture Frame: Place the photo behind the clear glass- easily remove the frame to change photos
  • Jewelry Holder: I used the steel mesh to create a place for earrings and other jewelry to be displayed
  • Mirror: this comes in really handy and reflects the light!
  • Stained glass: I chose a nice blue piece for the end shelf. Put an LED light behind it for a back-lit look!

I also made a smaller half-hexagon drawer and installed a coat hook on the front. I cut a couple of shelves that can be added or removed as needed.

Step 6: Install the Shelf Using - Magnets!

As I mentioned in a previous instructable , the best way I have found to locate studs is using- a magnet!

Using a strong magnet, pass it over the wall- it will catch on the screws used to install the drywall (photo 1). This way you know without a doubt where the stud is and won't have to poke a bunch of holes in the wall looking for it- or use a stud-finder that gets you "close" but in my experience, not close enough...

I used hook eyes to install these shelves knowing they would be covered by the mirror and glass. You could use "D" Hooks or saw tooth hangers, I just happened to have these on hand.

In the third picture my daughter is showing me what needs to go in these shelves...she knows best.

Step 7: Magnets = Unlimited Options

I'm really happy with how this project turned out. If you don't want to use stained glass, you could make a wooden frame for the picture frame or mirror and use tiny screws on the outside edges to catch on the magnets. You could install magnets toward the back or the front to get different effects.

I found the magnets on these to be very strong- there are six of them per shelf...however If you have a small decorative element you could install it on the top corner of a shelf using just 2 magnets.

You can have magnets attach to each other for an extra strong bond, or use nails, screws or steel wire to catch on the magnets.

One of my favorite uses is to provide the backing for floating frames (last photo). This allows the art in the frame to be easily changed out as needed, and you don't see any exposed hardware- just hidden magnets!

I hope this has given you some good ideas for your next project. Best of luck!

Magnets Challenge

Participated in the
Magnets Challenge