Introduction: Sci-Fi Spaceship Shelf

Here it is, about four decades later, a shelf based on the Eagle Transporter spaceship from the TV show Space: 1999. I guess Santa never got my note on the Dinky Toys die-cast Transporter so I made one myself...

Constructed from cardboard, wood and popsicle sticks. High tech built with low tech.

Mod that plain utilitarian RIBBA shelf for an IKEA hack.

Step 1: Creating a Wessel...

Based on the same technique from my Star Trek Enterprise shelf, this is the Space:1999 Eagle Transporter shelf.

It is one half of the spaceship cut lengthwise and meant to "project" out from the wall.

Detailed scale drawings abound on the interwebs.

Print out a set of plans scaled to size desired.

I had a some 1/2 inch thick x2, x3 strip scrap pieces to build up the shelf and used that as the main reference. Useable open shelf length is about 20 inches.

Build cardboard forms that will be the foundation blocks to apply the popsicle stick veneer.

I used a pair of wire cutters to cut off the rounded ends of the popsicle sticks and trim to size needed. It's best to crimp the cut line to score it and then use the bigger part of the cutoff to break the piece on the line. Keep the grip on with the wire cutters when you flex the cutoff back and forth. Note that small pieces may fly off if you actually try to cut through the wood as there are forces built up in compression and tension. Splinters may be another hazard.

The actual cut of the diagonal cutters is not in line with the handles so it took a bit to get the feel of cutting a perpendicular cut on the popsicle stick. And you since the "blades" are on one side, you may get a wonky cut if the jaws face the other way as you try to cut on a line that is bigger than the width of the blades.

I also used a flush cutter meant for wire trimming. The blades do not go the whole length of the jaw so I had to get the feel of where to place the popsicle stick for a nice cut. Realize that you can break your flush cutters if you apply too much force on too thick of a piece...or is it just the several pairs of flush cutters that I got for cheap at the import tool store.

Popsicle sticks will curl up when wet glue is applied to one side. You may need to tape the piece down to prevent it from popping off if the glue doesn't set and grab quickly.

Resist the urge to use carpenter's glue as filler as it is difficult to sand without power tools after it dries. Of course, I never listen to good advice.

Step 2: Something to Stand On...

The landing gear was built up of dowels and cut pieces. The dowels plug into a hole in the bottom of the side pods. I will add small dowels in the final construction for the two side struts that connect the landing gear.

I also glued up pod thrusters with a small rectangular piece and bits of dowels.

The engine nozzles were first formed with cardstock and then popsicle stick veneered.

Ping pong balls were used for the spherical shapes. Wooden beads or balls larger than 1 1/4 (30mm) inch are expensive, harder to source and I needed something about 1 1/2 inch round.

The engine structure was formed by connecting the flat side with some popsicle sticks. I used an awl to punch holes in the ping pong balls to insert dowels which would be the pipes that come out of them. The balls are suspended in popsicle stick side supports. It was then glued between the engine nozzles in position. I later modded the structure that held the spherical tanks in place since the initial structure didn't look quite right. You can always go in to edit. Don't be afraid to deconstruct and reconstruct.

Step 3: Latticework...

Additional popsicle sticks were glued on to provide positioning blocks and stops when each of the main pieces were mounted to the main shelf frame.

To create all the truss-like frames build them over a piece of plastic wrap or a silicone baking sheet. That way, you can pool up glue and connect hard to hold pieces by laying them flat. Instead of round dowels, I just used the thinner popsicle sticks I had. You can build up thickness and depth by adding on another layer of popsicle stick.

I later went back in to mod the main truss structure because the initial pattern didn't look quite right.

I glued on the random bits from the cut bucket to the interior blocks to add more detail. Greebles.

Nothing ends up really square or flat, so just work with loose tolerances.

Step 4: Flying Colors...

Sand and remove any dust by wiping with a damp rag.

Carpenter's glue(Titebond) dries extremely hard so it was tough to knock off glue blobs and needed a wood file, rasp, or my Japanese finish trim saw to do the job.

I wanted to show off that this was made of wood so I was going to stain it to bring out the woodgrain.

I thought a "whitewash" would look nice to match the off-white color of the spaceship.

Instead of getting another quart of stain which I would use very little of and would end up accumulating another can in the paint pile, I just thinned out some white acrylic paint to wipe on the shelf. Thinned silver acrylic paint was used for the engine nozzles.

I used black marker to fill in the blackout parts of the front section and the thruster areas.

An orange and black marker were used to add random visuals for the usual spacecraft markings like handle outlines or warning labels like NO STEP, EMERGENCY, Diesel Only...

A Moonbase Alpha badge was printed out and glued on the front section.

A window made from cardstock covered in clear packing tape fills in for the windshield area.

To "top" it off, I added a strip of Neopixels under the shelf and programmed the Adafruit Circuit Playground Express in Circuit Python for blinking vehicle lights and glowing underbelly rocket engine glow.

Step 5: Totally Modular...

Just like any other model kit, it was built to be modular with plug and play sections.

The pieces are all keyed in to the main shelf body.

I added the last detail of the lower engine nozzles in the middle. They are stacked wooden toy car wheels with the axle pin going through the bottom shelf.

Add glue to the modular parts before attaching if you don't want to disassemble it later. It turned out kinda big.

You can drill additional holes to hang the shelf or just add a French cleat hanger on the back and the wall.

And there it is. Apply the build to any other spaceship or vehicle you are a fan of. Thunderbird 2? Battlestar Galactica? Valley Forge with biodomes?...


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