Introduction: Skim Board Shelves

About: Patrick is a water quality and environmental regulatory compliance manager with an interest in all things technological and gadgety. And everything else besides.

My wife and I were casually strolling through the swap meet one day, when we came across a man selling, among other items, three well used skim boards full of character and warmth. One could look at them and almost feel the sand between your toes, the cool Pacific waves swirling about your ankles, and the warm sun on your back. My wife almost immediately said, "Those would make a great set of shelves!" Being the idea person that she is, I knew that meant it was up to me to turn that idea into reality, which is exactly what I set out to do. So this Instructable is to share with you just how I did it. If you like what I've created, or if it inspires you to greater creations, I'd appreciate if you could cast a vote for my Instructable.

Step 1: Shopping

I knew I wanted to use galvanized pipe for the supports for these shelves to give it that hipster chic industrial feel that's so popular right now. I browsed through the local hardware store until I collected all the pipes and fittings in 1-1/2 inch galvanized pipe along with other miscellaneous bits and took it all home. That amounted to the following:

  • Galvanized pipe and fittings
    • 4 flanges for the feet
    • 8 T's
    • 4 caps
    • 4-24" pipes
    • 2-18" pipes
    • 8-1-1/2" nipples
  • Other parts
    • 2-24" 1/4"x20 threaded rods
    • 4-2" 1/4"x20 carriage bolts
    • 8-1/4"x20 locking nuts
    • A quart can of polyurethane.
    • Some cheap disposable brushes

And of course some miscellaneous stuff found lying around the garage without which no great project could ever be built.

Step 2: Prep

I don't have any good pictures for this part. I always build things and then afterward think, "Oh, I should have taken pictures along the way for an Instructable." Anyone else ever do that? Yeah, I see a lot of you raising your hands and nodding your heads out there, so I know I'm not alone.

First I pre-assembled the bottom rung of pipes, so to speak. I screwed a flange onto one end of a 1-1/2" nipple and a run end of the T onto the other end; I did that 4 times, once for each foot. For nomenclature associated with T's, see the drawing. Then I joined 2 feet together by screwing the end of an 18" pipe to the bull of the T on each foot; I did that twice. Now I had two rails, each with two feet.

Then I took the three skim boards and clamped them together using C-clamps in the order I wanted the finished shelves to be. In this case, the three boards were slightly different sizes, so I stacked them with the largest on the bottom and the smallest on top. Then I lined up the two sets of feet on the bottom of the bottom board and aligned them in what looked like a good position and marked their location with a sharpy.

I rummaged around in my tool box for a spade bit slightly larger than the outside diameter of the galvanized pipe and fit it in my drill. Then I drilled through all three skim boards while they were still clamped together so the holes would be aligned.

Then I did more prep on the boards themselves. I sanded around the holes I just drilled; sanded other rough spots, being careful not to sand off the cool graphics; removed layers of old board wax by scraping and/or using some acetone; and filled in some holes on the edges with wood dough. The boards also had some areas where mold and mildew had turned the wood black, so I took some bleach and carefully applied it to those areas to get rid of (almost) all of the stain. I had to do this several times before it looked OK, and again, I was careful not to get the bleach on the graphics for fear of bleaching them out.

Step 3: Assembly

Now I started the assembly process. I took the 24" pipes, which I would use as uprights, and drilled a 3/8" hole at about the 1/2 way point. Then I screwed these uprights into the remaining run on the T of the feet, and slid the bottom skim board shelf down over all four uprights through the holes I had drilled. This bottom shelf rested on the top of the T for support. Next I took the carriage bolts and put them through the 3/8" holes I had drilled in the uprights and threaded a lock nut tightly onto each one. The second shelf then was slid on over all 4 uprights, and it rested on the carriage bolts for support. I took the remaining 4 T's and drilled a 3/8" hole through the bottom of the bull portion, then threaded one end of the run of each T onto an upright, making sure the bull was facing inward and lined up with the bull on the opposite side, front to back. That sounds a bit confusing even to me, so be sure to look at the pictures to see what I mean.

Next I threaded a 1-1/2" nipple on top of each of the upper most T's and slid the last skimboard over those. I had caps to put on the ends of those nipples to finish them off, but the nipple was too long to press up against the top of the skim board, so it seemed loose. To solve that issue, I rummaged around in my garage and found a PVC pipe fitting that was just big enough to slide over the galvanized pipe. So I cut wrings from that about 3/4" wide,slid those over the nipple, and then put the cap on. The cap pushed down on the PVC, which pushed down on the skimboard, and tightened everything up. Nice.

Then I passed the 1/4"x20 threaded rod through the holes on each of the T's below the upper most skimboard shelf. I had to wiggle the T's around a bit to get everything to line up right. The threaded rods were longer than needed, so I marked one end and cut them with a hack saw. Then I slipped the rod through the holes in the T's again and screwed a 1/4" lock nut on each end. I tightened these up to bring the uprights in so they were pushing against the skimboard, giving the whole thing a bit more structural support.

Step 4: Finish and Enjoy!

I finished all the skimboards with traditional polyurethane. I applied 4 coats, going over each one with some 0000 steel wool between each coat. And that was it! We then gave the shelves to my daughter for her birthday, and she turned it into a stand for her TV and related appurtenances.

I hope that inspires you to go out and build something twice as good. Be sure to let me know if it does, and please be sure to vote for my Instructable. Cheers!

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