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Mini project: economy shelf

Posted by joeabbott on October 24, 2015

In my last post I wrote about streamlining my blog entries: giving just a bit less of the “journey” I took and more of the punch line. I’ll start by noting the picture presented in that post is the project I built: the “blue stuff”, if you will. Also, I’m not sure I’ll do well in concision … there’s just a lot of complexity to describe!

The design

I was looking for a simple top and then an “umbrella stand” of sorts for my long stuff: hiking poles, ice axes, pickets, wands, and things like that. I have two other cabinets that I’d want to keep under the tabletop and I wanted the tabletop to span the pegboard I’d already installed under the house (where this table was going).

The table wouldn’t be heavily used, wouldn’t need to support a lot of weight, and certainly wasn’t in a high traffic area. Again, under the house in our crawl space.

The top would be supported on three sides: in the back by the foundation ledge of the house, on one side by the “umbrella stand”, and on the other either by a simple leg or I could attach a ledger directly to the studs. While I like the idea of using a ledger connected to the studs, I chose to just use a full panel as a leg on that end: it would give full support and I wasn’t sure tying the top into the house was the right call.

The only other detail was to add a few spacers to the design to allow the top to completely clear one of the existing storage cabinets.

Making a tabletop

For the tabletop I either approached a frugal sort of genius, or seriously screwed up. Time will tell.

I needed a 24×72 inch sort of top, but none of my scrap wood was that big, although I saw I had four panels from some old shelving that were roughly 16×60 inches. If I cut two of those panels up, I could combine them to make a single panel. Easy to show, harder to spell out. Here’s how the math looks in picture:

Before the cuts

Start with four panels … one is “A”, that I won’t cut, one is completely unused, and two will be chopped up!
After the cuts

“A” remains untouched; the second panel is split lengthwise providing part “B”; the third pane is unused; and the last panel is cut up into five parts giving “C” and “D”.

image image


And here are the final parts arranged and ready for glue-up. In this picture you can see small rectangles between all the panels … those represent “splines”, thin shims of wood the help strengthen a butt joint. I was dubious these would work but, with a polyurethane glue (foaming / Gorilla Glue), they came out fairly solid.


And that was the top. Now, I will admit the “wood” for the top came from 1/2” particle board, so I had reason to be concerned about how solid it was, but in the end it looks fine. Not great, but acceptable for an “under the house” sorta project. In the last picture you can see a bit of sag … something that may require me to add a front lip to the top to stiffen things up a tad.

imageUmbrella Stand (Legs)

I knew I’d be driving screws through the tabletop into the legs, so I needed to make sure the legs would hold a screw. I didn’t want particle board or the MDF that I had sitting around. From the remainder of the scraps, I pulled together the requisite stuff made from plywood … better than this project deserved, but convinced me it’ll hold up for a little while.

One leg was a simple panel; for the other side, the umbrella stand … same thing: just a bunch of plywood rectangular panels screwed together. It was fun to make that part: no glue, no fancy joinery, and small enough that I could easily hold it while screwing the parts together. On top of it, things came out square and looked like I thought it should! Which isn’t always the case on my projects!

Coming together

Assembling this structure was pretty easy: just add screws! However, I do realize that particle board is really lousy stuff to build with: either sinking screws into or through. It can just break up easily. So, to help provide a solid joint, I drove all screws through a small “rail” that acts as a border to the tabletop and allows the screw to bite in solidly and not splinter the particle board. Here’s a nice close-up of that joint:

Using it

Unfortunately, the next picture is before I did any sort of arranging: I just piled all my crud on it and called it good. You don’t get a good view of the “umbrella stand”, but it’s off to the right. You do see a few poles sticking up in the background. My boot cabinet and the drawers fit under just fine, and my packs very nicely nest between them … which is an unexpected and added bonus.

Since taking this picture I’ve started putting a few things up on the pegboard: goggles, headlamps, and small grab-and-go items like that. I’ve also tossed out all of the water bottles you see here. All were very old, most had never been used, and a few I had BPA concerns about … a polycarbonate that is associated with health risks. Just not worth keeping.

Today I plan on building a quick “stove stand”: a unit that will store my pans, stoves, fuel bottles and the like. Over the years I’ve collected 4-5 stoves and having a single place for all of them seems reasonable. I’ll also do a bit more in the arranging category and may update this post with an “after” pic!


That’s it

OK, I’m not good with “short” … even though I trimmed most of the motivation and deliberation commentary, this got pretty long. If I were better with words, I could have described the top panel build-up in less space but, as you see, my limitations are many. <g>

But, I now have a pretty simple, pretty quick place to store a bunch of my outdoor gear and I’m hoping that translates into having fewer pieces of gear I don’t use, and an easier time putting my pack together when it is time to head out!

Thanks for checking in and I hope your day is orderly to your liking!


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