Build an Industrial-looking Shelf From a Metal Door




Introduction: Build an Industrial-looking Shelf From a Metal Door

About: My girlfriend and I run a company called Deville's Workshop in Toronto, Canada. We build weird props for film and television and love this website - such a great resource for inspiration and discussion!

In this instructable I will show you how to cut up an old metal fire exit door and turn it into a super sweet industrial-looking (and heavy duty!) shelf. I'm using mine in my kitchen but you could use it in a garage, as a bookshelf or anywhere else you need a shelf.

First of all - safety! Because I am cutting metal I use thick gloves (welding gloves are my preference because they are thick enough that the cut metal doesn't slice me and they also keep the sparks from the angle grinder from sticking lots of tiny metal slivers into me). Since I left my welding gloves at a friend's shop I instead used thick winter gloves. I also use ear goggles and eye mufflers to keep said sparks from my eyes and ears. I also recommend using a respirator to keep any fumes from being breathed in during cutting.

Here is a list of things I used to make my shelf:

1. Angle grinder with thin cutting discs
2. Hammer drill
3. #8 wood screws
4. hex-head self-tapping metal screws
5. hex-head tapcon masonry screws
6. #2 robertson bit (for the #8 wood screw)
7. an old rusty punch
8. metal scribe
9. hex-head bits for the drill
10. magnetic picker-upper

Here are some additional things that I think I forgot to add to that photo:

a. shelf brackets
b. masonry drill bits
c. blending disc (for the angle grinder)

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Step 1: Step 1. Measure and Cut the Door

I have about 20 old metal fire exit doors that have been stacked against the wall in my shop since the beginning of time. I used some of them to make rolling heavy-duty workshop tables (an instructable for another day!) and the rest have been gathering dust. My wonderful and lovely darling girlfriend asked me to put away the dishes today and I decided we needed more shelf space to do so. A quick wood shelf would only delay me from my duties for a short period of time so instead I decided to build this instructable.

Step 1a. Mark out the depth and width of your shelf. You will notice that I used green painters tape; this is a trick I use when cutting plexiglass and is absolutely pointless with metal. In fact, all it serves to do is heat the adhesive and really melt it to the metal, which assists in procrastination but is otherwise quite time-consuming to remove. Instead, use a metal scribe to scratch your measurement into the metal surface.

Step 1b. While wearing proper safety equipment and holding the angle grinder with two gloved hands carefully cut along the line. Ensure that there is nothing flammable around the cutting area and keep a fire extinguisher close by should anything ignite.

Step 1c. The door is hollow (with cardboard inside) so you will have to flip it over and repeat steps 1a and 1b.

Step 2: Step 2: Clean Up the Filings

I used a plastic bag wrapped around a magnetic picker-upper to clean up most of the filings (when you unwrap the bag it conveniently pulls the filings away from the magnet). After that I swept and used a shop vac to get the rest. Be thorough - tiny metal filings are a pain because they hide everywhere and stick in you when you accidentally lean on them. Plus, this delayed my having to put the dishes away for at least an additional 20 minutes.

I've included a photo of the inside of a metal fire exit door, in case you'd like to see what's inside. You will notice that the cut edges of the metal door are jagged and terribly sharp. I used a blending disc to smooth them out.

Step 3: Step 3: Attach the Brackets and Put Up the Shelf.

Step 3a. To ensure that the brackets would be flush to the wall I first screwed them to the surface of my wooden work table. Then I used self-tapping metal screws to attach them to the underside of the shelf. Once all of the brackets were attached to the shelf I unscrewed them from the work table and brought them up to the kitchen where I held the shelf in place with a level while my patient and amazing girlfriend marked the holes on the wall.

Step 3b. I used the hammer drill and a masonry bit to drill out the holes. I switched the hammer mode to regular drill mode and screwed the tapcons into the cinderblock wall. Et voila: additional storage space that looks fantastic! And heavy duty enough to hold pots and pans.... :)

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    3 Discussions

    DIY  Dave
    DIY Dave

    3 years ago

    great idea and nice instructable. I'm going to do this next time I get replace a decent door (most of them I replace are rusted to pieces)


    8 years ago on Step 2

    Great idea! Plastic bag over magnetic picker-upper!!