I found this site last week while trying to figure out how to build a Jacob's Ladder without electrocuting myself or burning my house down. 3 Hours later, after skipping from Instructable to Instructable I realized how interesting a lot of these projects are and wanted to make my own. Luckily I already had a fairly large project underway.
This shelf is a part of a much larger custom built craft desk. I chose to break it up into several smaller Instructables because nobody wants to read 100's of steps just to find one part of the project. It also gives me a chance to test out how the site works.
I want to apologize if the photos are lacking, my phone is the only camera I own. I only have 2 hands and like all my parts still attached so none of my photos are of power tools in action. As for my grammar, well, that has been a lost cause since elementary school.
Edit: Seems I don't know how to make the site work just yet and completely lost text for several steps. If something doesn't make sense then just let me know. I will fix it.
Edit 2: I had no idea there were contests! Lets enter and see what happens!
Step 1: Have a Plan
I had a plan... and as with any other plan it had to change on the fly.
We recently acquired a house and need to fill it with things. My girlfriend saw my new workbench in the garage and really wanted a space for her crafts. Crafts require an absurd amount of small parts and trying to organize it all in a way you can access everything is an impossibility in a standard desk.
- Fit into a nook in a bedroom.
- Tilt up section like a classic drafting table.
- Section for hot items and paint.
- Place for a white board.
- Ridiculous amounts of storage.
The design was for open front desk with cubbie type shelving across the back.
So... while my girlfriend was out of town for a weekend, I decided to build the desk as a surprise. I knew I could finish the carcass but certainly could not complete the finishing given the short time frame. I also needed her input for the drawer and shelving heights. When she got home is when the plan fell apart. I made a glue up top from quarter sawn American sycamore. She saw this top and liked it so much that she did not want to cut it or put holes in it unless there is no other option.
Step 2: Improvise
Now to avoid an extra cut in the desktop the entire right side will be a tilt up top. This destroyed the plan for a cubbie shelf on the back of the desk because there was no place to attach the shelf supports and anything back there would prevent the drafting top from moving.
So I had the idea to make the shelving move. I would use a track and roller system attached to the bottom side of a floating shelf mounted directly to the wall. This would allow for a larger whiteboard on the wall. The organizer could be moved so things are always on hand or out of the way as necessary. Several shelves could be built and placed on the track depending on the project at hand.
A good plan is important but plan A is never what seems to be the final product, don't be scared to entertain different ideas as you go through the process.
Step 3: Parts List
- 1/2 birch plywood leftover from the desk build
- 3/4" x 2 1/2" boards for the frame
- Screws and nails
- Bypass door hanging track hardware kit
- Woodglue (optional)
- Circular saw
- Screw driver
- Tape measure
What I actually used:
- Radial Arm Saw
- Tape measure
- Impact Driver
- Pocket Hole Jig (Kreg Jig)
- Socket Wrench
- Beatin' Stick (scrap piece of wood that works as a push stick, hammer substitute, and sacraficial surface when hammering on wood)
- Clamps, clamps and more clamps
Step 4: Cut and Drill Your Pieces
This is pretty self explanatory. I used a radial arm saw to cut my pieces, since most people don't have one just use whatever tool you are comfortable with and has decent accuracy. Cutting the pieces correctly saves a lot of time spent squaring, measuring and sanding.
As for the drilling; I bought a new tool, a pocket hole jig, to speed up the desk build and I can not seem to stop using it. I was so impressed with the over priced piece of plastic that I just wanted to keep playing with it. I did learn a few lessons on the way. The last photo is what happens when you don't clamp the jig tight enough. Luckily that mistake was hidden by another improvisation. You can use whatever method you are comfortable with. I was just using a new toy for the sake of using a new toy.
Take your time and watch your fingers. Not all projects must be signed in blood
Line out your pieces as you cut them. This will help you recognize what is left and if anything is wrong.
Lightly sand the cut edges before you put everything together. This will help you achieve tighter connections.
Clamp identical pieces together before sanding. This will make sure that they are in fact identical.
Step 5: Put the Shelf Together
I started with the exterior frame and screwed all the pocket holes first. This way I could make sure everything was square and then I would adjust the plywood as required. Unfortunately, my impact driver was too long to fit in between the 2 wood frame rails. So I improvised (noticing a theme yet) a driver using a socket wrench and 1/4" socket and driver tip.
I really wanted to avoid any visible screws if possible. I am morally opposed to just putting wood putty over a screw hole because it never looks right and is always huge pain to make any adjustments later. I tried pocket holes on the bottom of the plywood but the materials were so thin that it was trying to crack out the top of the frame when attached. So I abandoned all of that.
Since I intend for this to hold a significant amount of weight and I do not trust wood glue alone, I decided to use finishing nails to attach the rails to the plywood. Using a punch will keep you from marring the wood and hides the nails just under the surface. A nail can substitute for a punch, but it is easier to smack your hand with a hammer that way.
After everything was glued, screwed, and nailed I noticed the back flexed more than I liked so I doubled up the framing there.
Step 6: Attach the Slide Rail
The rail I used was a bypass door hanger. It is $20 and has all the hardware included. The photo shows how the included screws were too long for my piece of plywood so I doubled up the plywood in the area the hanger was supported. It added rigidity and kept the screws from penetrating through. I glued the plywood, clamped it, and put the screws through the rail and both layers of plywood.
Step 7: Build the Hanging Organizer
I built the organizer the same way as the shelf frame but the pocket screws did not crack the wood.
Once everything was together I went over it with a sander just to flush everything up. This will not take long if you have been careful putting it together.
Attach the door rollers that came with the track. The second photo shows the pocket holes and screws as well as the track rollers.
Step 8: Hang It
I hate drywall anchors. They never work, always pull out, and cause so much damage that you would be better off just taking a hammer to the wall.
The better option is to put deck screws directly into the studs. If you are lucky like me, whoever built your house added just enough plaster over the drywall that you cannot "sound" the studs or use a stud finder. Here is a hint, find the outlet on the wall, and take off its cover plate. On one side, there should be a stud. Locate it and then measure 16" from the stud to test for the next one. The only real test is to put a screw in the wall. Screw at a height so it will be hidden when the shelf is hung. If you miss the stud but think you are close drive the screw through the same hole at an angle to see if hit it. Once it is found, mark its location with painters tape; the tape is about the same width as a stud and will not damage your wall.
Now get a friend, spouse, or anyone you can bribe with a beer to come help you. A 2nd set of hands are invaluable at this point. Both of you need to hold the floating shelf in the correct location as you place the first screw. Make sure it is the correct distance from the wall and level at the height you want. It does not have to be perfect when you drive the first screw, but the closer you are, the easier everything else will be. After 1 screw is in, only one person should be required to hold the shelf. This allows the 2nd person to check level, elevation and drive the other screws into the studs. The job is basically done. Add the hanging organizing shelf to the track and start clean up.
Step 9: Demonstrat
As you can see in the video the floating shelf is very stable and the hanging shelf freely moves from side to side.
This hanging shelf will have approximately 40 screw hooks attached to it but they are sitting in the paint booth at the moment. The hooks will hold all of her different cross stitch threads.
There is room for another hanging shelf behind it and 1 next to it but we are trying to figure out what supplies should be hung before we build those.
I am saving the finishing of this shelf for another Instructable because I intend to have stenciling on it to match the desk. I look forward to making a whole series about this desk build.