Introduction: Quirky Shelving Projects Using a Versatile Material

About: IT Manager and CAD Designer with a keen interest in technology for the visually impaired.

For a number of years I have been using plastic 9mm gauge 'L' section white Fascia Board to create shelves and enclosures around the house.

It is sold as a retro fit board to cover existing external timber fascias where a low maintenance solution is required.

It is manufactured from a lightweight foamed plastic material that is easy to cut and smooth whilst being strong enough for many shelving and other applications. It is relatively inexpensive at about £35 for 12m (4x3m lengths). I live in the UK and purchase the boards from Toolstation - link below.

The material has a smooth gloss finish on the outside, and a rougher matt finish on the inside.

In this Instructable I describe some shelving projects using this fascia board along with two applications that will have you kicking yourself and bowling you over!

This is my entry in the Shelving contest - please vote if you find this Instructable interesting.


Step 1: High Level Conservatory Shelf

Our Conservatory is split into two rooms by a dividing wall consisting of a wooden frame clad with plasterboard. One room occupies about a third of the conservatory and is used as our Utility Room. This includes a washing machine, tumble drier, sink, ironing board and some cupboards.

As the appliances in the utility room cause significant dampness, we needed a suitable location for a UniBond Aero 360 Moisture Absorber Device. This uses replaceable 'tablets' to liquify airborne moisture and collect it in a plastic tank.

As my wife, Sue, is totally blind it was important that the device be located away from the worktops to avoid accidental spillage. A high level shelf would provide an ideal location.

The dividing wall construction meant that there was a ledge running across the width on the utility room side. This ledge is about 3cm wide and is made from a plastic strip fitted to the top of one of the horizontal wood batons within the wall.

A length of the plastic fascia board spanning the wall width (approx.2.6m) was cut using a manual mitre saw. The fascia was positioned on the ledge and was fixed in place using six 40x4mm Single Thread Cross Recess PZ2 woodscrews, pilot holes having been drilled through the shelf at about 500mm separation. The pilot holes and screws were set at an angle at the back of the shelf as shown in the diagram. As the fascia material is quite soft, the screw heads were able to self-countersink below the surface.

A small offcut of the fascia was used to fashion a support at one end to keep it level. This is just pushed between the shelf and the conservatory structure below.

The other end of the shelf rests on a ridge in the conservatory structure.

The finished shelf is shown in the first and last photographs. As well as the moisture absorber device we also use it to store other items such as boxes of wash pods and bottles of fabric conditioner - well out of the reach of children and animals.

Step 2: High Level Conservatory Shelf With Sliding Door Enclosure

In the other part of the conservatory a sliding door is fitted to the dividing wall. When this was initially installed the builders constructed a cover for the door rail mechanism from painted hardboard and flat plastic - see first photograph. This was not very elegant as it had visible screw covers that frequently fell off and it did not conceal the mechanism when viewed from underneath.

Plastic fascia board to the rescue! I decided to fit a high level shelf similar to that described in the previous step of this Instructable. To this would be fitted a cover for the sliding door mechanism also constructed from plastic fascia board. This would have concealed fixings to give a smooth appearance. The L shape of the fascia would enable the rail to be better concealed.

Fitting the Shelf

Unlike the side of the wall in the utility room, this side was smooth with no existing ledge on which to mount the high level shelf. However, the sliding door rail is fixed to a substantial piece of wood that spans half the width of the wall, and this provided support for about half the length of the shelf.

A length of the plastic fascia board spanning the wall width (approx.2.6m) was cut using a manual mitre saw. This was attached to the rail support wood using 40x4mm Single Thread Cross Recess PZ2 woodscrews, pilot holes having been drilled through the shelf.

The other end of the shelf had to be fixed to the conservatory structure using an L shaped bracket made from an offcut of the fascia board. A second L shaped bracket was also required between the first bracket and the mid point to fix the shelf to the dividing wall to provide support. 16mm screws were used to fix the brackets to the shelf so they did not protrude through the bottom. See photographs and diagram.

Constructing the Door Cover

The construction of the shelf and door cover is shown in the General Arrangement diagram. The three parts of the door cover are fixed to the shelf using 40mm x 4mm screws. These were screwed through the shelf into the edge of the boards as shown. To do this it was essential to carefully drill 3mm diameter pilot holes to the full depth of the screws. If this was not done, the boards tended to split and bulge.

The end pieces had to have some parts cut away to dovetail with the front part of the cover. This was done with a hacksaw or (carefully) with a Stanley knife.

Fascia Corner Joints were glued to the corners of the cover to give a good finish: Toolstation Fascia Corner Joints.

In Use

The shelf is used to store items that are not accessed frequently, such as DVDs and spare conservatory blind components. At Christmas it is used to support decorative lights and a laser star projector. The double glazing of the conservatory roof acts as an infinity mirror giving the laser star field a pleasing 3D appearance.

The shelf could also be used to keep items out of the reach of children and animals - see last picture.

Step 3: Concealed Storage for 'Essential' Household Items

A while ago, our old dishwasher sprung a leak and caused severe water damage to three melamine clad chipboard panels. These were removed and discarded.

We bought a replacement dishwasher - it is the new machine that is shown in the photographs.

The original back panels were screwed in place. I decided that the replacements would be fixed using concealed hinges to allow easy access to the back of the machine. This also produced a small potential storage space behind the 300mm wide blanking panel at the end of the unit. It is only 7.5cm deep. This section is behind the back of a cupboard and drawer used to store dishwasher tablets, salt, dishcloths and other small items - see front view.

Some initial ideas for this concealed 'cupboard' were a key rack or a place to store dog leads. However, in a light bulb moment, I realised it was ideal for certain essential household items - see if you can work out what these are before all is revealed in the next Instructable step!

The cupboard would need two shelves. Some plastic fascia board was cut to the required dimensions (26.5cm x 7.5cm) and was fixed in place using 40mm x 4mm screws through the sides of the cupboard into the edges of the fascia board. As in the previous Instructable step, it was essential to drill 3mm diameter pilot holes to the full screw depth to avoid splitting and bulging the plastic.

Note the orientation of the shelves with the short arm of the 'L' downwards. This positions the glossy side on the top giving a good appearance to the shelves when the door is opened. Also, the top of the kicking strip is well hidden by the lip of the lower shelf.

A push-push door opener from Screwfix was fitted as shown: Details here.

A new end panel was fixed in place concealing the shelf supporting screwheads.

So, what items do we store in this cupboard....

Step 4: The Answer

Yes, it is our own hidden wine cellar! It can store 6 standard 750ml bottles.

However, as this is now on Instructables, everyone will know it is there....

Step 5: Kicking Strips

You may have spotted another use for the plastic fascia board in the previous photographs. This is as a replacement for water damaged melamine clad chipboard kicking strips at the base of kitchen cabinets.

The kitchen cupboards are mounted on short legs and the original kicking strips were fastened to these with plastic clips.

Fascia board was cut to the required dimensions with cut-outs to accommodate the legs as necessary. Small spacers made from fascia offcuts were fastened using 3mm x 16mm screws. The clips were fixed to the spacers using the original screws.

When clipped in position the fascia kicking strip looks good, wipes clean and is inherently waterproof.

I have replaced all of the other kicking strips in the kitchen in same way.

Step 6: Skittles Ball Return for Swindon Bats - a Shelf That HAS to Slope!

'Swindon Bats' is a Sports & Social Club for Blind and Visually Impaired People based in our home town of Swindon, UK. It is so named after the phrase 'Blind as a Bat'!

Swindon Bats play 10 Pin Bowling in a national league - recently one of the Bats teams came 2nd in the national finals out of a field of 34.

Each year the Swindon Bats raise money by running an outdoor 'Skittles' competition at a local village fair in the nearby town of Shrivenham.

Skittles is a traditional British pub game similar to 10 Pin bowling except there are only 9 skittles (pins) arranged in a diamond pattern. Many British pubs have indoor skittle alleys.

The balls and pins are much smaller than the 10 Pin equivalents and are made from wood or dense plastic / rubber. Three balls are thrown by each player during a turn. As in 10 Pin, knocking all pins down with two balls is called a Spare. Knocking all nine pins down with one ball is called a Flopper. Unlike 10 Pin, there is no multiplier applied to subsequent balls so the maximum that can be scored with three balls is 27 (a 'Triple Flopper'). When all pins have been knocked down they are all put up again.

In Skittles there is no machine to reset the pins, so a human 'Sticker-Upper' has to manually replace them. This is a popular post amongst young people eager to earn some pocket money.

In past years, at the village fair, the Sticker-Upper also had to carry the balls back to the player's position at the other end of the alley. We decided that a return system was required so the balls could be rolled back to the beginning.

An AutoCAD design using the fascia cladding was drawn up - see first picture. This uses metal shelf supports threaded into the wire mesh of a handy fence to mount three 3m lengths of the fascia. The fascia is fixed to the supports using zip-ties through holes drilled in the plastic. The three lengths overlap and are fixed together with further zip-ties also passing through holes drilled in the plastic. Zip-ties do not impede the rolling of the balls.

The short vertical part of the fascia prevents the balls rolling off the shelf. The balls roll down the full length of the gently sloping shelf to fall into a cardboard box lined with soft material to cushion their fall.

On the day of the fair, the shelf was assembled quickly but somehow did not look as straight as the design drawing! Despite this, it worked well for the five hours of the fair. In fact several people spent a while just watching the 'Heath Robinson contraption'! See the photographs of construction details and shots of the shelf in action.

The use of zip-ties meant that the assembly could be dismantled quickly using cutters.

The shelf increased the money taken by the Bats charity as the time between players was reduced by the rapid return of the balls.

For more information about Swindon Bats, please see Swindon Bats Website

Step 7: Final Thoughts

Whilst this Instructable is nominally about shelving applications, I wrote it to demonstrate the many uses of a fantastically versatile material.

It will be fascinating to hear of other applications thought up by members of the Instructables family around the world.

If you make something based on these ideas, why not post a 'shelfie'!

This is my entry in the Shelving Contest. Don't leave me on the shelf - please vote if you have found these ideas interesting.

Shelving Contest

Participated in the
Shelving Contest