Scavenged Portable Hanging Shelves




I really like hanging around behind grocery stores, drugstores, seeing what they are throwing out (or very carelessly storing ... I'm not sure which it is sometimes) and I always see these wire shelf pieces that wouldn't normally work without their proprietary system in the store, and wonder how they can be hacked, also I needed some shelves to hang in my sunny windows for all my seedlings and figured the shelves would block the least amount of light.

I could see these being useful out in the garden, camping, anywhere you cant drill into a wall but the ceiling would be OK, great for inside closets too.

Step 1: Get Yer Shelves

Try going behind walgreens and target and such, keep an eye out and you'll see em. I like to affect a casual "mmm hm hmmmm oh look shelves in the trash? I guess I'll just take these . . . " attitude, you dont want to get caught looking like you know are doing something wrong just in case someone has a problem with you taking them (in all likely-hood I don't really think the store wanted these since some were bent, or they think no-one will take them because they wouldn't be useful w/out the proprietary supports) I feel this is a gray area to worth investigation. I might not investigate this at a smaller family establishment, or at least then I would ask first.

Step 2: Your Needs

A level
some scissors
some suitable rope or other linear element (chain would be nice)
A lighter to finish your ends if your rope is the melty kind
a stool or step ladder
a measuring stick or tape

Tie up your ropes from 4 points, preferably on intended site, use hooks and stud finder as needed if you dont have a handy beam like I did.

Use the ladder or stool to position your shelf near where you want it to end up so you can tie it with greater ease.

Step 3: Knots

I'm sure someone knows of a better knot but this was for my purposes easy to slide up for adjustments but did not slide down when weight was on shelf, please enlighten me if you have a better way.

See knot steps on pics below, and if you will be putting heavy things on your shelves you may want to put your ropes closer to the center.

Step 4: Measure and Level

Measure with your ruler or an object (preferably what ever you intend to keep on your shelf to get your spacing. Use your level to adjust all the knots so that your bubble is in the middle, it's tricky on the first one but starts to go very quickly as you get the hang of micro adjusting the knots.

Step 5: Repeat

Repeat as needed, and unhang and install as needed if you did not have the forethought to install in place. Hey nomads see how nice they fold for storage? Next time I will tie ropes closer to center to prevent bowing, but the plants are happy.
Oh yeah and the plants are growing in "ghetto greenhouses"



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    11 Discussions


    11 years ago on Introduction

    If you added a third rope in the middle of the shelves, it might get rid of the sagging problem.

    3 replies
    HAL 9000Ora

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, just one in the back center will provide good support and be out of your way, it wont block off any of the front of the shelves.

    jessehawksHAL 9000

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    if only one is added in the middle it causes the shelves to tip though because of all the weight wanting to slope down and after adding the middle rope to the front, since the shelves are only wire and a rope could easily be passed through I put a single rope through the center of the shelves and it worked. I do like the idea of only adding one other rope though makes the middle a little less cluttered looking


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I always thought those things would make cool trellis for ivy, or beans, and stuff.. Never thought of making shelves though, interesting idea!

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Step 5

    That's a great idea! I love salvage-and-hack furniture. Looks like it could use another 2 centre ropes to keep those shelves from sagging.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Great, I though I was the only one who liked to salvage useable things for free to use for multiple purposes, but on instructables, it is common practice, encouraged! Now I will feel a tad bit less uh, embarrassed retrieving things from behind stores..

    Whoa, This is definitely a worthwhile activity. I've always been into scavenging old product displays and shelving. Why do stores waste so much money on such things and then leave them out to get rusty? At best the found object is still usable and if not it will suffice as a material.