Plywood Magazine Rack




Introduction: Plywood Magazine Rack

this is my first Instructable.

Some months ago I bought a cheap newspaper rack made of a wood stick frame and cotton fabric (see photo below). After a while, the thin wood frame tended to bend under the heavy load of magazines. In addition the papers slipped down in the bottom of the large container and formed a stack. I was not able to find a suitable rack on the market. Therefore, I started to design a customized rack. My first idea was to have it on wheels in order to easily move it. The second point was to organize it in separate spaces in order to avoid that magazines became a messy stack of paper.

Before starting collect the following materials and tools

- Plywood as raw material (about 1 square meter) (thickness between 0.5 and 2 cm)
I used 0.5 cm, but thicker 1 cm would be optimal
- White paper (squared is better), square, meter, and pencil to design
- Calculator
- Modelling saw with thin blade
- Small hammer
- Small nails
- Wood glue
- Elastic bands
- Heavy objects to be used as a press
- 4 Pivotable wheels

Step 1: Design

Design is a mix of functions and shape.

1) First the functions. This rack is organised in parallel spaces for magazines, books, and other objects, such us remote controllers. The magazines are ordered in almost vertical position, so that the rack has a small footprint and the papers do not form a stack. The ordering spaces are differently sized, so they can accomodate objects and papers of different size. Morevoer, the different papers can be grouped in separate spaces. Finally the pivotable wheels make it easy to move the rack in the room.

2) Shape. I wanted to build an nice and original object, not copying the market products. Firstly, I choose an inclined position for the magazine separators to obtain a dynamic look. Secondly, the idea of having different sized spaces inspired me a structure larger at the base and smaller on top. Finally, I rounded all the borders, having in mind a dolphin flipper for the object silhouette. The top border of the separators was shaped as sea waves. This is my version but the the basic structure can be easily customized in a different styles just changing the border shape.

I designed a plan of the side panel in 1:2 scale using square and meter. This was helpful to trace the rounded border onto the raw plywood board and to determine the exact position of the panels in the assembling steps. The dimensions of the other panels (bottom and separators) were simply calculated and then traced on the plywood without a preliminary scale plan. The more artistic parts and the rounded borders were designed by hand.

Step 2: Tracing

The panels to be prepared are:

A Side panel, 26 by 34 cm
B Side panel, 26 by 34 cm
C Back panel, 23 by by 35 cm
D Intermediate separator, 23 by 24 cm
E Intermediate separator, 23 by 15 cm
F Front panel, 23 by 10 cm
G Bottom panel, 23 by 23 cm

The different parts are traced on the plywood board. If you want to to minimize the cuts and the wastes the reciprocal position of the parts can change according to the dimensions of your raw plywood board. I used a 75 by 100 cm board. Simulations on the paper and a small calculator are helpful for this step.

Once you have decided the position of the different parts, upscale and trace the design directly on the plywood board using a pencil and a square. Once again the rounded lines are traced by hand.
The final position of the parallel separators must be traced on the inside face of the rack sides (see previosu step "Design"). Similar lines must be traced on the up face of the bottom panel, where the separators will be fixed to the bottom. These lines will help in positioning the separators during the assembling.

Step 3: Cutting the Panels

After tracing, the rack panels are cut off the board using a thin modelling saw. I have a manual one, but if you have a more sophisticated electric tool your work will be faster.

In the first phase all the panels are cut as squared boards. The only part that will keep the squared shape is the bottom (G). The other panels need addition rounded cuttings described in the next step.

Step 4: Cutting the Parts (2)

In the second phase the rounded border are cut off the previously prepared squared boards to obtain the final silhouette. This involves the top border of the four vertical panels (C, D, E, and F) and the the two side panels (A and B), which are flipper shaped. Note that the two sides panels must be identical. To easily obtaint two identical pieces, you can join them as a sandwich by a few small nails before cutting the rounded border. In this way you can cut them together and you are sure to obtain two perfectly overlapping pieces.

Step 5: Assembling

This is the most tricky step.

Assembling 1

In the first phase all the parts except one side panel are assembled. Place one side panel on a flat horizontal surface with the inside face up. Distribute a thin layer of glue on the lines where the bottom and the separators will be fixed. These lines were previosly traced in step "Tracing". Distribute a narrow layer of glue on the edge of panels C, D, E, F and G that will be fixed to the side panel. Place the separators (C, D, E, and F) and the bottom (G) in vertical position and align them with the lines traced on the side panel. The lower border of the separators must align with the corresponding lines traced on the bottom board.

The vertical panel may move until the glue is fresh. In order to keep all in place you can use the some tricks. Fix some small nails that can be easily removed later in order to avoid that the vertical boards pan horizontally onto the side panel. Some nails fixed onto the upper edge of the vertical boards can be used to place elastic bands that tighten the boards together. If the plywood is thick (1 cm or more) the parts can be more easily assembled with screws and glue. This has the drawback that the screws or the holes will be visible from outside, unless a painting will cover them. When all the parts are in place and glued, load the top with some kilos and leave the glue solidifying overnight.

Assembling 2

When the first glueing is solid proceed to assemble the opposite side panel. Place this panel horizontally and add some glue onto the lines where the separators and bottom will be placed. Glue the edge of the separators and bottom that will fix onto the side board. Place the rack assembled in the previous phase onto the side panel and align the separators with the traced lines. Charge with some kilos and wait some hours.

Step 6: Make It Mobile

Fix four pivotable wheels below the rack using double face adhesive tape

Step 7: Colouring

The rack is now ready for use. Optionally it can be coloured. I used water based paintings that leave the wood veins visible. Yellow for the external sides, brown for the internal sides, light green for the back panel, light blue for the two intermediate separators and red for the small front panel.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Hand Made Rack!

Et voila!
The finished rack compared to the old newspaper container.

Based on my experience I can suggest some improvements

Bigger size would be better
This rack is small for normal use. It accomodates very few papers. I realized that only when it was finished. It would be more practical if enlarged in depth and width. You can upscale the plan.

Alternative use
Without the wheels this small rack could be used on a desk as ordering shelf for correspondance, notebooks, and envelopes.

I would be glad to be contacted by Instructable people who will make a similar rack based on my idea.
English readers are gently asked to let me know if my English writing is bad

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    5 years ago

    This is fantastic. Tip to everyone in South Africa, I got my plywood cheaper from this bulk distributor


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thanks for your appreciation. I am very happy that this old project is still interesting for somebody


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome! I have been looking for something like this, and I find nothing! This is perfect. Thanks!


    14 years ago on Introduction

    This is good work for a first Instructable. The design is nice, I'd be a little concerned about it tipping backwards with a heavy load due to the tilt, but it looks pretty good (and adaptable, so you could use it for purposes other than magazines, which is always a good thing).


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Dear PKM, thank you for your appreciation of my work. I reply about possible stability problems. This rack does not fall backwards when loaded and even pushed at its top end. In the first picture of step assembling you can note that the base panel extends backwards beyond the last separator. Therefore, the gravity centre keeps inside the wheel footprint. In addition, the wheels add stability because, when the rack is pushed backwards, it easily moves instead of tilting. Isacco


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Fair enough, looks like you're ahead of me :)


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    it actually looks like most of the load is still distributed over the base though even with the sweeping curve. I doubt it would be too much of a problem.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice first instructable!, good design too, you could use this to store load of other things too


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Fantastic! You do not know how many magazines my mom throws out after they sit for a few days. This is a perfect summer project!