Introduction: Magnetic Key Shelf

Problem: So, it's spring and time to clean up our house again. Like many people, we have a collection of car keys, house keys, work keys, wallets, cell phones, dog leashes, and other odds and ends that collect on a table inside our entry door. We have a shallow pewter bowl that collects all of those things that we need to get before we leave the house and it's always overflowing.

Solution: My wife noticed in a magazine a wooden shelf for sale at Meriweather Field Gear a wonderfully creative wooden shelf with embedded rare earth magnets for organizing the type of mess that we were dealing with. I liked the product but the particular shelf that they had available was only 12" and had only 3 magnets. I knew that I could make something more suitable for our space.

Step 1: Materials and Equipment

Materials Needed:

24" x 3" x 1" craft wood board (red oak)

24" x 4" x 1" craft wood board (red oak)

(I think these were around $7 together)

3/4" spade drill bit


2 medium sized tension clamps

6 3/4" round x 1/8" round rare earth magnets - available from Magcraft through Amazon. Cost was about $17 with shipping.

Wood glue - Elmer's is what I used, but any brand is good for this

Elmer's Probond glue - nice specialty glue that I used to glue in the magnets

Sharpie (not pictured)

Tension clamps

Wood stain - I used MinWax English Oak and Antique Walnut

Polyurethane - I used Behr semi-gloss

Brushes or rags to apply the above

2 #12 3" brass wood screws

Wall anchors to fit the above screws if you're not putting this into a stud

3-5 standard 2" wood screws

6 #10 3/4" wood screws (1/2" might have been better but I didn't have any)

Step 2: Attach the Boards Together

My boards weren't exactly the same size so initially I had to cut 1/16" off of one board using my compound miter saw to make them the same.

Then you want to attach the boards together. I wanted the 3" board to be against the wall for a slight backer against the wall. The 4" board was attached perpendicular 3" board. I used plenty of wood glue and clamped them together with the tension clamps. I then moved the whole group over to my table vise. Be sure to place scrap wood between your vise teeth and your wood because you don't want to ruin your work before you begin. I then predrilled pilot holes for wood screws and screwed the two pieces together. Red oak is pretty hard so unless you're using a drill press be careful and work slowly. I used my drill/driver and it was a bit underpowered (I could also blame dull bits). It was also tough to keep things straight, but I succeeded.

Step 3: Magnets

I could have just attached the magnets with glue or screws but I wanted the sleek look of having them sunk flush with the wood. So, initially I measured out a midline along the bottom of the shelf. I drew out a light pencil line. I then used a metal 24" ruler and placed the magnets where I wanted them. It was convenient that these were magnets because they stuck to the ruler. I wanted magnets 1" from each end of the board and then evenly spaced them along the midline. This turned out to be 4 1/2" between the center of each magnet.

I then made a mark on my 3/4 spade bit at 1/8" up from the bottom of the flat part of the bit (not the point!). I did this on both sides so that as it spun I could easily see the line. I then bored out each hole to just short of the black line and tested each magnet for fit. Go slowly, it's always easier to go deeper, but it's hard to add wood back that you've already removed. Test often with a magnet. It's easy to remove a magnet that's in place with a steel screw or screwdriver.

Finally, I put a little bit of ProBond glue in each hole, placed the magnet in the hole, and screwed in one of the #10 3/4 screws being careful not to overtighten or drive the screw all the way through to board. It easy enough to wipe up any excess ProBond glue with a paper towel as it doesn't set immediately.

Step 4: Finishing

Initially I sanded the wood with 120 grit sand paper and then 200 grit sand paper. Then wiped it all down with a little bit of water to draw out the nap and then resanded.

I stained the wood with one coat of MinWax English oak water-based stain. This wasn't exactly the color I wanted, so I followed with another coat of MinWax Antique Walnut stain which really brought out the grain in the wood.

Finally, I treated the entire shelf with Behr semi-gloss Polyurethane. I put in pictures of what I'll call drying blocks which are really just scrap wood with nails driven through them. These allow me to treat the entire shelf at once and place them on the drying blocks to dry. I sanded in between each coat of poly followed with a tack cloth. There were a total of 3 coats of poly.

Step 5: Hanging the Shelf

At last I predrilled two holes evenly spaced in the back of the shelf. I then leveled the shelf and attached them to the wall using two brass 3" #10 wood screws. These were sunk flush with the wood. The brass screws were attached to the wall using appropriately sized wall anchors.

And, we're done! The final product looks sleek and is so useful.

I really hope you like my first Instructable!

Woodworking Contest

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Woodworking Contest

Spring's Coming Contest

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Spring's Coming Contest

Full Spectrum Laser Contest

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Full Spectrum Laser Contest

Makerlympics Contest

Participated in the
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