Radiator (Steam) Shelf Cover

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I had this radiator sitting in my room and I wanted to make better usage of it with my desk right in front of it. I also happened to have some spare wood down in my basement to use.

Left = ugly useless for storage radiator sitting in the corner. Right = made more useful and more appealing with the shelf installed and some items on it already organizing my desk area

Materials needed:

I used various sizes of wood, such as 2x6, 1x6, and 1x4

2 screws, and a bunch of nails

saw, drill, hammer, tape measure, pen or pencil. a small square also is helpful, both for right angles and for straight lines. also saw horse for cutting

OPTIONAL: Wood stain. For this project I used Minwax Wood Finish Colonial Maple 223. Obviously brush(es) would also be needed too, I used a 2" wide one since any bigger wouldn't fit into the tiny 1/2 pint jar I got for this small project

Step 1: Plan, and Get Your Measurements

First of all it is best to plan out what you want to do for arrangement, as well as measure everything important (like a steam pipe in the way). I wrote in the external dimensions of the radiator, simplifying it as a block instead of all of the curves. the 3" on the left side refers to the space between the radiator and the wall, in case that would be needed during the build. Height didn't matter for this project, as it wouldn't reach the ground. I felt it would be best to use a 2" thick piece for the top and the narrow side to prevent heat transfer to the items to be stored on the top.

I got all the measurements I needed, and measured those segments on the wood, using my square to make nice easy lines to cut alone. Time for the next step now I suppose, read on!

Step 2: Let's Get Cutting

Now that I have all of my measurements, I mark and cut the wood piece by piece. For this project I cut one piece at a time, than attach it, rather than cutting everything at the same time. This way I would make sure everything fit properly, and that nothing would be put in the wrong spot. I stacked some old computer towers (they don't work, just need to get a few parts out before scrapping) for a make do saw horse. I made sure that the top and most important piece fit properly first before continuing, as everything else revolved around that piece. Happy with the size, I cut out the short side piece. All side pieces are cut to 6" lengths, short but able to secure the shelf to the radiator easily

Step 3: Drilling, and the End Piece

the thickness of the first two pieces made it so that nails would not work properly. The only other option would be to screw them together, but not so fast! to make it easier and prevent cracking of the wood, I drilled pilot holes into them. It also had the added benefit of lining everything up nicely. However when putting the actual screws in, don't get them on really tight. leave it a little loose for now, that way everything can be put together and squared properly. Over tightening too early can warp the pieces and make assembly difficult. The picture shows the pieces together, but showing one of the pilot holes before putting the second screw in.

Step 4: Time for the Front

The front and back didn't have to worry about heat quite as much, so they could use the 1x6 board, cut to 8" pieces. The first one I put on to overlap the end piece, making a strong corner that allows all 3 pieces to support eachother. The second one shows the other pieces put on so the shelf wouldn't swing back if pushed. The center most piece isn't needed, but rather is for aesthetic purposes. I just thought the side-ways direction of it looked nicer, and it wouldn't matter if it was vertical or horizontal.

Step 5: Back

It would be horrible if one had a nice book on this shelf and it actidentally was pushed back and fell between the wall and the scaldingly hot radiator...so I planned ahead and put a back on it, just 6" high exposed. The picture here is the back after it's measured for the space and attached.

Step 6: Done! (or Is It?)

Now that all the pieces are cut and attached securely together, I put it on top of the radiator, and voila! It's done. However if you're like me, that's still not quiiiite finished just yet. If you desire to make it look a little bit better, proceed to the next step. If, however, you are satisfied with this, then stop, step back and admire what youre hands can craft.

Step 7: Optional: Staining

for about $7 at lowes, I got a small can of stain, as well as a cheap brush for the project. I liked the brighter look of maple, plus it matches the surrounding white(ish) walls around it instead of clashing if it was darker. Just like applying paint, I stirred the stain for a nice homogenous mixture before lightly brushing the stain on, putting down a piece of cardboard to keep the shelf clean in my rather dirty basement(it's a rental, not ideal, but it's a roof over my head and I have the freedom to do such projects), rocking out to my music on Pandora while polishing off the beer I had been drinking during the whole project. Let it dry overnight or for 24 hours, your call really.

To be safe, I did NOT stain the parts that would come in direct contact with the radiator, in case the heat would put off some bad fumes from the direct contact.

Remounting, I looked at this handy piece of storage furniture, and smiled at how it will make my study life easier and more organized.

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