Introduction: "Pack Rat" Shelf

Does your wife call you a pack rat?  Mine does.  Being in the military and always moving does not help my cause.  Not wanting my treasures to end up back in the trash I decided to make this shelf.  I had two criteria for my shelf to meet.  No fixing it to the wall, ceiling, or floor (I have a very high security deposit).  Secondly I had to use as much of my "collection" as possible.  You see this build is important because my wife allows me to buy one new tool of choice per successful project.  Let's hope it succeeds! 

Step 1: Materials

This was my easy part.  Here's the list:
1. Four vintage Japanese 500ml Coke bottles & one small coffee bottle
2. Six various sized pieces of wood left over from a previous project
3. Hooks, cable, turnbuckles, oval eyelets.
4. One 4" diameter x 8' long cardboard core from an earlier purchased carpet

Step 2: Sketch a Plan

There are a lot of things that go into a good plan.  I figured my weight load was going to be no more than ten pounds per shelf.  The bottles and the card board should be able to hold that with ease.  I started with a simple pyramid plan starting with the biggest timber at the bottom. 

I also had to think about my available tools and the extent of my capabilities.  I decided that the least amount of cutting and drilling would be best.  This all played a big factor in the planning stage. 

Step 3: Tools

Here are my available tools:
1. Cordless Drill
2. Drill bit index
3. Craftsman Hole saw kit
4. Hand saw
5. Multi-tool
6. Metric tape measure

Here is my selection of preferred tools to make this build easier and cleaner:
1. Craftsman 18 Volt Portable Drill
2. Craftsman C3 19.2 Volt Jig Saw with Laser Trac
3. Craftsman 8 inch Slip Joint Pliers
4. Craftsman 12 inch Combination Square
5. Craftsman Wood-Boring Bits
6. Craftsman 21 pc. Titanium Coated Drill Bit Set
7. Craftsman Professional 16 Gal. 2-Stage Industrial Wet/Dry Vac (for clean up)

Step 4: Carboard Core Prep

First, my daughter and I painted the core white with some old concrete paint I had laying around.  It did what I needed.

Step 5: Measure and Cut Shelf Notches

After cutting the core down to length you need to measure for your shelf notches.  Measure your bottles and that should tell you where the start of you notch will be.  Here is where you need to factor in your small amount of loss due to the notch where the bottle mouth will rest inside of the shelf at the opposite end.

The easiest way to know I was cutting the same amount out of each notch was to use the seam on the core as a guide line.  Then you just measure an equal amount down each side of the line.  This also helps you keep your next cut true to the previous cut.

Step 6: Slot the Wood

(You don not have to do this step if you don't want to.)

Here measure where the center of your bottle top will be.  Using a hole saw I cut in about 2-3mm deep.  Then break out the center.  Then repeat for the remaining shelves.

Step 7: Large Hole Cut

Here I wanted to change the design a little to allow me to utilize as much timber as possible without waste.  I cut a hole big enough for the core to pass through one shelf.  This was my longest piece of wood and I think it put a nice touch to it.

Step 8: Dry Fit

Here is a crucial step that I believe must be done.  Do a dry run by putting everything together without fastening.  I performed this at every shelf level to make sure one bad measurement/cut didn't turn into four more bad ones.  If things start to look off, this allows you to hopefully catch it sooner rather than later.

Step 9: Fastening

After dry fitting everything it's time to add the cables and fasteners to make the shelves more stable.  This was the easiest and cheapest way I could configure the cables, hooks, and turnbuckles to use the least amount on each shelf.  There are many different configurations you can use that will achieve the same goal.  I drilled the holes at angle where the cable passes through the wood.   I did this to alleviate the need for a hook in these areas.  When tightening be sure to only put enough tension on to keep the shelf stable, you don't want to break the bottles or the wood.  After all the shelves are fastened go back and check the tension on each shelf again because things tend to settle after time.

Step 10: Load Test and Clean Up

The construction phase is complete!  Now all you have to do is place things on the shelf starting with the lightest items and working your way up.  This shelf is in my bathroom so for the most part only towels and shampoo bottles will be going on it.  I am sure that you could get a 20-30 pound load on the shelves no problem. 

Step 11: End Thoughts

Things I learned:
1. The right tools make for easier and cleaner work.
2. Look at your sketch three or more times before starting.
3. Don't have a few drinks during the drawing phase because you might end up with an extra notch cut for a shelf you have no wood for. (Hence the top angle cut shelf which was my LAST piece) It adds to the style of it though :)

How I, or really the wife, feel about the end results:  It does just what was intended which was to add storage to our small apartment.  I achieved this two-fold by making the shelf and clearing out another shelf that was filled with the material I used!  The wife gave it her stamp of approval, do you?

Craftsman Tools Contest

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