Intro: Stuffed Animal Storage Shelves
My nieces have a lot of stuffed animals, but not enough places to store them. There is various stuffed animal "zoos”, but my sister wanted something off the floor; and something nicer than the “Teddy Nets”. I suggested a wall hanging shelf version, and we were able to find an example photo on Pinterest (but no instructions). This my re-recreation, and improvements of what we found.
Quantities are assuming a total of 3 shelves, adjust as needed.
- Cardboard (optional) – to make a mockup of the shelf size
- Sheet of plywood. I used 1/2" Birch
- Primer and Paint
- Toggle bolts, 1/2" x 2" (I’m not a fan of the plastic anchors / mollies)
- Washers (optional)
- (6) L Brackets, 1"
- (6) Shelf brackets
- 1/2" screws
- 1/8" shock / bungee cord – 50 feet
- Transparent laser printer labels (optional)
- Table or Circular saw
- Jig saw
- Drill bits
- Counter-sink drill bit (optional), size #6
- Wood filler
- Sand paper
- Electric Palm Sander (optional?)
- Ruler / Tape Measure / Speed square
- String (or another method to trace out a large circle)
- Paint brush or rollers, and tray
- Hot knife (mini torch w/ knife attachment)
Step 1: (Optional) Build a Mock-up Out of Cardboard
I settled on a 24” x 24” corner shelf, with semi-circle edge.
I used a large cardboard box to mock-up the size of a single shelf, to make sure it would work in the corner the final product would installed in. It also gave the opportunity to work out how to maximize the storage space. A semi-circle edge (rather than a triangle). I tied/tape a string to a pencil and using the same length as a single edge I held the other end of the string in the back corner. This allowed me to draw a circle from on edge to the other. There are other methods, but for such a large semi-circle, this method worked for me.
Step 2: Cut Plywood Down to Size
With the measurements determined for the shelf size, I cut the plywood sheet down to three equally sized squares; 24” x 24”. I used a table saw for the straight cuts, as using the fence makes it easy to keep a straight, repeatable cut. You could also use a circular saw, or jig saw.
Note: I may have gone just a tad below 24" to optimize the use of the plywood sheet I had on hand.
Step 3: Draw and Cut Semi-circles
With the squares cut out, now you can draw the line for the semi-circle. I used a string the tied / taped to a pencil the same length as the shelf edge. Holding one end of the string in the “back” corner of the shelf I draw a semi-circle from one corner of the plywood to the other. After the semi-circle is drawn I used a jigsaw to “carefully” cut along the semi-circle line. (I wasn’t as careful as I thought).
Step 4: Sanding (and Wood Filler)
Because I wasn’t careful cutting with the jigsaw, I had a very bumpy / rough edge along the semi-circle edge. Sanding by hand wasn’t getting very far. I wound up clamping the three pieces (shelves) of plywood together, lining them up against flat edges. I than used an electric palm sander to smooth out the semi-circle shape.
I also sanded the flat edges and surfaces, one at a time.
Now is the appropriate time to apply the wood filler, and patch any defects (dings, peeling layers, gaps, etc.) in the wood. (I applied primer first… don’t do that).
Step 5: Drill Holes
Drill the holes for the cords BEFORE you prime and paint. Than you can reapply wood filler as needed to fix any issues that arise. (I drilled the holes after painting, that was dumb, don’t do that). I tried to space the holes 4” apart from one another, and a 1/2" from the semi-circle edge. You want the hole large enough for the cord to pass through, but small enough that a simple knot will not pass through. (Otherwise you’re going to need staple the cord down or get bungee clips. You could probably tie the ends around a washer). I used a 3/16" drill bit for the holes I decided to countersink the holes slightly for the side of the shelves the knots would rest in (this is optional). If you decide to countersink as well, I suggest only doing it for two holes on a single shelf; assuming an even number of holes per shelf. If you have an odd number of holes, you'll want to countersink one hole on two of the shelves; alternate corners, top than bottom.
Step 6: Prime and Paint
Choose a paint color. We went through swatches to find something nice to coordinate with the kids’ rooms. Our paint choice had primer built-in, but I find a cheap coat of primer first to be beneficial on bare wood. I could have used spray cans but wanted a better selection of colors and wanted to make sure I got the edges covered and smooth. I propped the shelves up slightly, in case the primer/paint dripped off the edge. I let the primer dry and gave it a light sanding. I stacked the shelves (lining them up carefully) to paint the semi-circle edges more efficiently. (I didn’t bother painting the straight edges). I lightly sanded between coats as needed (I made sure to remove dried paint drips from the edge, as I was planning to customize them later).
Note: If you're using paint rollers, do yourself a favor and use some painters tape to lift off any fuzz on the foam roller.
Step 7: Install Shelving Brackets
I assumed (and confirmed) there wasn’t going to be studs where I was planning on installing the shelves. You can double check with a stud finder. Every time I drill in drywall I drill a smaller pilot hole first (1/8"), to confirm if there is or is not in fact a stud. If there is a stud, swap out the toggle bolt (or plastic molly) with a longer wood screw. If there is not a stud, you’ll drill a larger hole, so you can insert the toggle bolt (or plastic molly); check the directions for your toggle bolt or plastic molly for the correct size drill bit to use. The toggle bolts are rated for greater loads, and I’ve had much better long-term experience with them.
Pick the height of each shelf. I spaced our shelves out evenly, but that’s not required. Use a level to make sure the shelves are… level. You can use a pencil to mark on the wall where the shelves edges will sit. You’ll want to line up the L brackets and shelf brackets to those marks, so you can than mark where the mounting holes will need to be drilled. I found it useful, to install the back-corner L brackets first; double check the levelness, and then mark and install the larger shelf brackets.
The shelf brackets I purchased, directed that the longer edge should be installed to the wall; I opted to install the shorter edge along the wall. It’s my hope that the longer edge will better support the shelf and prevent it from warping/sagging.
Assemble the toggle bolt to the L brackets as pictured (the washer is optional). Insert the toggle bolt into the wall and tighten the screw so it locks in place.
Assemble the toggle bolts to the shelf brackets as pictured. Insert the toggle bolts into the wall and tighten the screws so they lock in place.
Rest the shelf in place, double check the levelness, and make minor adjustments as needed.
When the shelves are lined up and level, so can affix them to the brackets with the 1/2" screws. I chose not to pre-drill pilot holes (but they would’ve made it easier).
Step 8: Install Bungee Cords
I was originally planning on running each column as a separate cord, which is why I countersunk so many extra holes for the top and bottom shelf. I wound up using a single cord weaving it though. This method only requires two countersunk holes on a single side of the plywood (I chose the bottom of the bottom shelf). It makes it much each to adjust the cord lengths and tautness of all the columns. You don’t want the cord to be saggy, but you’ll want it to have enough give/stretch, so you can squeeze larger stuffed animals through.
I found it much each to pass the bungee cord through the holes after wrapping tape in a tapered shape around the end. Weave the cord up through all the shelves, and then all the way back down the next hole, repeating until you’ve thread the cord though all the holes making the columns / bars along the front edge of the shelves. Tie a knot on the shorter length cord side. You can now adjust the lengths and tension to your liking, by pulling the cord back through on the opposite side. You should focus on one column at a time, until you get back to the opposite side. When you’re happy with the tension and spacing, you can cut the remaining cord, but be sure to leave a few extra inches, with a pair of scissors. You can know tie a knot at this end as well.
You should be left with some extra cord on both ends where you tied the knots. Using a hot knife (or mini-torch with knife attachment), you can cleanly cut the ends of the cord (just past the knot). This prevents the cord from fraying. (When necessary I touched the end of the cut cord to the hot blade edge, to singe it).
Step 9: (Optional) Finishing Touches
I wanted to personalize the shelves to each nieces’ liking. One loves Minnie Mouse, the other loves Winnie the Pooh. I found some appropriate fonts and images to use. I chose to use Microsoft Visio to do the sizing for printing; I needed to make sure the heights were just under 1/2" so they would fit along the shelf edge. Visio didn’t seem to take the True Type Fonts, so I typed the names in Word, and snipped them as images. For all the images I used a drawing editor to set the “white” background as transparent. That way when printed they would be truly transparent. White ink on white paper isn’t usually an issue, by I was going to print on a clear material, so the color of the shelf would show through.
I did a test printing on rice paper from my inkjet printer (saw this on another Instructable). The rice paper appears translucent when wet. Rather than a polyurethane, I tried clear nail polish. I wasn’t happy with the results.
I wound up using a clear sticker paper thru a color laser printer. I trimmed the print outs as needed, and carefully stuck them to the outside edge of the shelves.