Introduction: Spray Can Rack

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I keep all my spray paint on a shelf in the workshop. This is usually fine, until I need a spray can way in the back and knock over all the cans in front trying to grab for the one I want. Instead of taking up a lot of valuable shelf space I moved my spray cans to a wall mounted system which allows me to see what paints I have at a glance.

This wall mounted spray paint shelf was really easy to make and is a colourful addition to my space, all while keeping my space organized. Making your own is easy and can be customized or partitioned to accommodate any cans you might have in your workshop. 1..2..3..Let's make!

Step 1: Measure

I started by measuring a spray paint can with the lid on. I noticed that some spray cans were slightly longer than others, but almost all were standardized at 8" tall and 2 5/8" (203mm x 67mm).

The shelf I had in mind could accommodate cans both larger and smaller than the standard size, I was using the standard can as a baseline to get the rough spacing for the shelves.

Step 2: Cut Wood

Knowing the dimensions of the can I could start cutting the wood frame.

Wood list:

  • 3/16" plywood:
    • Shelves: 5" x 12" (I cut 7 shelves)
    • Backing: 24"x13"
  • Frame: 1"x8" project board at least 6' in length

Starting with the shelving I cut a sheet of 3/16" plywood into 5" wide strips. After ripping the plywood I cut each strip to 1' in length to form the shelving. I cut 7 shelves in total.

Step 3: Frame

I ripped a 1" x 8" inch board to 6.5", then cut it into two 24" long sections. This would form the frame of the shelf.

Lying a can down on the board I estimated the angle of the can shelf. I sketched the approximate angle with a pencil. I checked the placement by stacking a few cans up the board to ensure the angle gave me enough clearance. When I was satisfied with the angle I used a straight edge to mark the angle on the board. Where the angle met the edge of the board I transferred the pencil line perpendicular across the edge (see picture 2).

Using the edge mark I offset the mark 3.5" along the entire edge of the board. This offset would allow enough clearance for the diameter of the can and some room for maneuvering the can in and out of the shelf.

Step 4: Angled Dados

Using a table saw I set the blade height to about 1/8". Using a mitre gauge I set the angle to match the angle I scribed on my frame.

Before I can cut the dados that the shelves will slide into, I'll need to measure the thickness of the table saw blade to know how much material will be removed (this is known as the blade kerf). The kerf from the table saw blade is 1/8" or 0.125" (3.2mm), the shelves I am using are 3/16" or 0.1875" (4.8mm). therefore, I'll need to make two passes for each shelf to ensure the shelf will fit into the dado.

Using the edge marking as a guide and the mitre gauge dados were cut into one of the frame sides. To cut the other side the mitre angle will need to be flipped to make a corresponding dado. After resetting the mitre the other frame dados were cut.

It's a good idea to keep one of the shelves around to check your dadoes and ensure they are large enough to slide the shelf in without binding too much.

Step 5: Glue on Shelves + Backing

A small dab of glue was applied to the top, bottom, and middle dadoes and the corresponding shelves were installed. A bead of glue was then applied to the back of the frame edges and the 3/16" backing was placed. Clamps were applied to hold everything in place.

After about 20 minutes the glue was mostly dry and I could install the remaining shelves with dabs of glue and then slide into place. The shelf was then left for a few hours for the glue to dry completely.

Step 6: Router Edges (optional)

I chose to router the edges of my shelving to give it a smoother and more finished appearance. I chose a 1/4" roundover bit. I worked the edges on the front and back, as well as the top, leaving the inside edges and the bottom untouched.

Step 7: Sanding

After routing the edges I sanded the shelf smooth with 200 grit sandpaper.

Step 8: French Cleat (optional)

Since I was going to hang this shelf I decided to use a French cleat. I love French cleats as they are super easy to make, offer great support, and look really clean.

To make a French cleat a 45° angle is cut lengthwise into a plank of wood. One section of the angled plank is attached to the back of the shelf with the angle facing inward and the corresponding angled plank is attached to the wall with the angle also facing inwards. When the two angles are brought together they securely hold the item to the wall.

This type of cleat is great because you can just lift the shelf off the cleat at any time. The shelf can also be shifted left or right along the cleat to position it. The cleat is also not visible when the shelf is hung, so you can use a scrap piece of wood for the cleat.

Step 9: Sealing the Shelf

To seal the shelf I used a polyurethane coating. Wearing protective gloves and working in a well ventilated area I applied a few coats of polyurethane with a foam brush, waiting about 20 minutes between coats.

Then, I let the polyurethane dry for overnight.

Step 10: Roll Prevention

To prevent the cans from rolling around on the shelves I installed a roll strip. That way when one can is removed from the shelf and accidentally knocks another can it won't go rolling around. To achieve this I used a timing belt cut into sections the same length as the shelves.

Step 11: Installing Roll Strip

The cut roll strips were installed on the edge of each shelf. To attach the strips I used a rubber cement. Cement was applied to the shelf edge and the the flat side of each roll strip and allowed to dry completely.

After about 10 minutes the rubber cement was completely dry and the strips could be pressed onto the shelf. To ensure a secure bond I used some clamps to hold each strip down for a few minutes. You only really get one chance to apply the strips with this cement, to take your time and ensure the strips are applied straight.

Step 12: Fill Your Rack

All that's left is to install your paint rack somewhere accessible for your space and fill up your paint rack with your spray cans.

Have you made your own spray paint rack? I want to see it!

Happy making :)

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