Two-Liter Shelves




Introduction: Two-Liter Shelves

About: Furniture hacker. Author of Guerilla Furniture Design, out now. Find me on Twitter and Instagram @objectguerilla.

These shelves are made from shipping flats for two-liter bottles of soda and some MDF. Were I to do them over, I would recommend replacing the MDF with 3/4" plywood for strength and resistance to splitting. Hopefully, the flats and the wood can be found for free with a little determined scavenging.

These shelves fall precisely into the "nomadic" furniture tradition proudly pursued by fellow Instructable-ers. Since the flats have handles on them already, and a nice rim around the edges, the idea is that the shelves can break apart and be used as containers for your books while moving.

This is a really simple project that can be done with a screw gun and a hand saw if really necessary, but a bandsaw or jigsaw will really speed things up.

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Step 1: Structure

The first drawing shows the pieces of wood that need to be cut, as well as the cuts that need to be made in the flat itself. Basically, on opposite corners of a board, I made notches and projections so they would fit together later. The dimensions are listed, and the drawings are to scale. However, the strict dimensions are not important -- your materials and circumstances may be different, so size to fit anyway you want.

The base of the shelves is one flat that has had the handles trimmed off flush with the rim so that it would lie evenly on the floor. Then, two 3-1/2" by 3/4" notches were cut in the bottom of the flat, one on each side, shown as the grey patches in the first drawing. A Dremel with a metal cut-off wheel or RotoZip works great for cutting the plastic. To take the burrs off, run a scrap of 100 grit sandpaper over the cut edges.

Cut your wood as shown to whatever height you want the shelves to be spaced apart. Fit the narrow projection of one of the pieces of wood into the notch, and screw through the side of the flat to secure it. I used cheap drywall screws. Pre-drill holes, especially if you are using MDF, to prevent splitting. Repeat on opposite side.

Cut into another flat the same way, and align it above the first, so that the notches are above one another. Screw in place. That makes a complete base unit. For the stackable, modular shelves, sucessive pieces only have one flat and two piece of wood. See the second drawing for how they are supposed to fit together.

An eighth or quarter-inch diameter threaded rod spaces and braces the back.

Step 2: Moving

This sequence of photos shows the nomadic aspect of the shelves. Take out the boooks, take off the shelf, flip, and refill with the books. The intact handles of the flats are still usable to carry the load with. The threaded rod and the rim of the flat retain the books when placed in the car. (The quality of these pictures is a little poor, so bear with me -- I think they still illustrate the basic idea pretty well.)

Great for the college student or other frequent movers. Probably not going to win any beauty contests, but the Two-Liter Shelves get the job done on time and under budget.

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    5 Discussions


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    medium-density fiberboard; it is a manufactured wood product made from wood shavings, sawdust, and paper waste mixed with glue and compressed under heat and pressure to make a grain-less sheet material that has strength omnidirectionally

    JZ Price
    JZ Price

    10 years ago on Introduction

    it looks like those red holders are nto for teh 2 liters. the ones that you have are for the 4 packs of 6 bottles of XX oz.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Allright, I like this project. I gave it 3.5 stars, but I would happily bump to 5 if some extra instructions showing each step in the cutting process were added. (I know that you are done with this project, but having an image of the un-attached side panels would be really helpful) Very nice work!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    This looks like a nice improvement on the classic milk crate shelving option. ;)