Folding Shelves




Introduction: Folding Shelves

I wanted a set of shelves that could be folded up and stored flat if need be. I wanted something that could be easily moved as well. This is what i came up with. I made two of these folding shelves.

Materials for one shelf unit.

- 1 x 10 boards (about 14 linear feet total)

- 3 pairs of hinges (pictures later)

- 3/4" Plywood (32" x 23 3/4")

Tools used

I used a drill, jigsaw, and sandpaper for most of the work. You will also need a 3/4" drill bit.

Step 1: Plans

Some notes to be aware of on the plans I drew. On the shelves drawing the length is 23 3/4" because that is the actual dimension of the 2' x 4' plywood I bought. Also make sure the slots on the shelves and sides are half of the actual dimension of the 1 x 10 boards. On the details drawings I put two different ways to measure the location for the two triangle sections for the sides. The intersections show the location of the 3/4" holes. I would make a jig to mark out the holes if I were to do this again.

If you use a spade bit for the holes I would recommend making a small pilot hole all the way through. Use the spade bit halfway through and then flip the board over and finish from the other side. If you used the spade bit all the way through from one side, it can cause some unsightly ripping and tearing on the opposite side.

Step 2: Shelves

I cut the slots with a jigsaw. I drilled the holes in the handle and connected the holes with a jigsaw. I sanded all the edges so I wouldn't get any slivers when handling the shelves.

Step 3: Sides

I used a drill and jigsaw to make the sides. Lots of sanding as well. I used 2" x 1 3/8" hinges.

Slide the shelves into the sides to make sure they fit before attaching the hinges. I marked the back of the shelves so that I put them back in the same order. Theoretically the shelves should be interchangeable, but fabrication imperfections may not allow that. I did some fine tuning on the slots so they fit in snugly, but not so much that I had to hammer the shelves into place. Once the shelves fit, I put on two coats of natural wood stain.

I attached the hinges on the sides. I spaced these equally along the length of the side pieces.

Step 4: Hinges

Once the hinges are on the sides, I inserted the shelves back into place and set on top of the plywood back. The shelves hold the sides in place so I could then attach the hinges to the plywood back.

Step 5: Final Assembly

These pictures show how the shelves lay flat and the sides fold out. The shelves are then slid into the slots. The whole assembly then easily is lifted upright. This project took me several weeks to complete as I was figuring out and learning as I was going. With the right tools and jigs set up beforehand this could be a two weekend project. Hope you enjoy, I know had fun building and learning along the way.

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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago

    I do a lot of canning and have no pantry to put the full jars. I also rent so building permanent shelves is not an option.

    I am going to take your design and make it Taller, Deeper and Longer.

    1/4" ply for the back and maybe the folding sides with 24" deep shelves of 1/2" pine wood boards. I'm going to pop rivet more hinges on with steel washers and add a third folding panel as well.

    I'm going to make 2 of these units and bolt them together back-to-back I WILL have a pantry come hell or high water.

    Thank You for the 'ible.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You might be able to lighten the assembly a bit by using 1/4" finish plywood for better portability, especially if your display items are small and/or light weight. Nice design, I love the idea, thanks!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This is really refreshing, Finally someone who really makes something new and original.

    The construction looks rigid, heavy.

    Great iea for anybody who wants to exhibit on a fair.Congrats.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking the same thing about craft shows!