Monday, April 11, 2016

Honey Comb Wall Storage

While out and about with my honey one weekend, she stumbled across this honey comb wall storage unit at World Market.  I admit it's cool, but it also cost $110.

So I decided to make one and take pride it in.  I also think I can make it for less than the money they're asking for.

I made something similar in Google Sketchup, and determined the approximate size and angle in which I must cut each piece (30 degrees).

But before I go out and buy the wood I need for this, I decided to test it on some scrap plywood I have.  I found a long enough piece that I can cut the 6 pieces necessary to make one hexagon.

Using a stop block on my miter saw I was able to cut 6 identical pieces.

Next I angled the miter saw to 30 degrees.

Then I set up the stop block again so I can cut the 30 degrees out of each side of each piece.

My miter cuts were very messy despite the firm hold I had on them.  I think it's time for a new saw blade.

I cleaned up each cut on the belt sander.

Then I dry-fitted each piece together and it looks like it will work.

Next I wanted to test out something I've seen other people do when making shapes with mitered edges such as hexagons, pentagons, octagons, and even square boxes.  I butted each of the pieces with the angled cuts edge-to-edge and faced down on the work table.  I then ran strips of painters tape along the back.

Then I carefully flipped it all over.

Next I glued up all the angled cuts.

Then I began folding each side...

...until the 2 end pieces met.  I reinforced the whole thing with more tape and a few brad nails.

I cleaned up the excess glue on the insides with warm water and a rag.

Then I let it dry.

Once dry I removed the tape...

...and sanded all the rough edges.

Next I wanted to see how it would look if I rounded the edges on the router.  I also wanted to see if it could stand up to being routed - after all, this thing is held together with only glue and a few nails.

Plywood isn't the best material to route, since all the thin layers of wood leaves a rough edge, but I routed the inside and outside edges of one side and it turned out nicely.

This thing is actually pretty strong.  Combined with 6 others this would be a decent shelf able to hold semi-heavy things.  But going forward I think I'll use some narrower, solid wood boards instead of plywood.  So, feeling satisfied with my test, I went out and bought some wood to make the real things.  The cost for 8 boards (I only need 7) was $23.12.  I also picked up some more masking tape which cost $5.88.

I also bought a new saw blade for my miter saw.  I won't factor in the cost of the blade for this project since it was something I should have had already.

I did a few test cuts and boy, this blade is great!

And to prove it...below is a picture I took of a cross-cut with my old blade.

And here is the new blade.

With my wood handy, and my miter saw ready to go, I began the process all over again.

Cutting 7 sets of wood took no time at all.

Next I set up the miter saw at 30 degrees again, and the beveled cut was super smooth!

It took about 20 minutes to cut all 42 pieces.

Next I did a dry fit and found out something wasn't right.  The blocks were not forming a perfect hexagon shape.  I should have did this to the first set before cutting the others.

Using an angle gauge I found out that my cuts were not 30 degrees.

And honestly you can't blame me.  The miter readout on the saw is very very small and not super-accurate.

So I used a triangle, which has a 30 degree slope on one side.

I pressed the triangle against the table of the miter saw and moved the saw blade to the correct angle.

Then I recut one set of the boards.  This time it worked.

Then I recut all the pieces of wood.  Now it was time to assemble each hexagon.  This time I'll be using my prep table which has a flat ledge to work off of. 

The ledge is excellent at aligning all the pieces of wood for taping.

Once all 7 sets of wood were taped, I moved them to a larger work table.

Then I repeated the process of gluing...

...and nailing each honey comb.

Then I let all 7 hexagons dry for a few hours.

While that was drying I made 4 more hexagons out of leftover wood.  These are smaller than the others and I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with them.  Perhaps I'll make a small second shelf.

Once all the hexagons were dry, I removed the tape and began sanding the side edges to be smooth.

I also sanded the front and back edges.

Then I brought them over to the router table and rounded the front edges.

The rounded edges look nice...

...but required a little extra sanding to be perfectly round and smooth.

Once all the hexagons were sanded, I dry-fitted them to each other in the arrangement seen at the store.

Then one-by-one I added glue to an edge...

...and attached it to the corresponding edge with a few brad nails.

Then I clamped every glued/nailed edge until the glue was dry.

The outcome was a very nice looking, and strong honey comb.

For the smaller hexagons, I simply glued, nailed and clamped them horizontally.

It's not as pretty as the other honey comb, but still quite nice.

Next I had to decide on the back and rim of these shelves.  The shelf at the store had a mesh metal ring around the outside.  It also gets attached to the wall with some eye-hooks attached to the metal ring.  I honestly do not care for the metal, and I have nothing else in my house with that style.

So while I thought about it I decided to move onto something else.  Remember the plywood hexagon I made as a test?  I think I'll try and make a nice box out of it.

First I'll make a bottom for the box.  I traced the hexagon shape onto a piece of MDF I had.

I then trimmed the MDF on my table saw.

Then I glued the flat edge...

...and attached it to the MDF with clamps.

When it dried I removed the clamps and brought it over to the router table.  MDF kicks up a lot of unhealthy dust, so I was sure to wear my respirator.

The router gave the bottom a nice, rounded edge.

Then I applied some wood filler to the gnarled plywood edges in an attempt to make it smoother and nicer.

When the filler dried I sanded.

Next I want to make a cover for the box.  I traced the shape of the top of the box onto another piece of MDF.

I cut down the size of the board using the miter gauge on my table saw.

Then I added glue to the MDF, making sure to spread it to all the edges with my glue brush.

Then I laid the MDF onto a thin piece of plywood.  Although not pictured below, I placed a number of items on top of the MDF to apply pressure so the glue has full adhesion.

When the glue dried I cut out the final shape with my jig saw.

Then I sanded each side to be level with my belt sander.

Next I took it over to the router and gave the edges a nice rounded profile.

Then I cleaned it up by sanding.

Now the box has a nice top.  But I need to make it stay on there.

Since the walls of the box are made out of 3/4" thick plywood, I used another 3/4" piece of wood to draw guides on the bottom of the lid.

Then I began cutting thin strips of MDF.

Since I know the inner angles of the box are 30 degrees, I set my miter saw to the same.

Then I cut one end of each MDF strip.

Then I slowly began assembling a inner rim for the lid.

Once all the pieces were cut, I glued them on.

After the glue dried I sanded the lip.

And now the lid is on securely.

Now back to the honey combs...

After much thought and discussion with my girlfriend, we decided to have a rounded piece in between the outer hexagons.

So I decided to use a 1x6 board I happen to have to make the curves.
(If I had bought this from the same store at the same time as the other wood, this piece would have cost me $6.83).  I cut 6 pieces to the approximate width of each area I want to cover.

Since the angle is still the same I cut one end at 30 degrees.  A 1x6 board is too long for my miter saw, so I had to cut the edge with a saw.

The angle works, but the length on each side isn't right.

So I used a stop block and cut less off the next board.

This works better.  The top edge of the board is about an inch away from the edge of the hexagon it's connecting to, so I drew a line on the bottom board that is also an inch away on the bottom hexagon's edge.  

If that description is confusing, I'm sorry.  The only other way I can think of describing it is that I'm trying to get the new board centered in between the 2 hexagons it'll be connected to.  Using a compass, I drew a curve from one edge to the other.

But that looks a little too round.  

So I played with some of my french curves (or Bezier Curve) to get the curve I wanted.

Then I cut it out with the jig saw.

Next I smoothed out the cut on my disc sander.

And it looks good!

Using the first piece as a template, I drew the same curve on the 5 remaining pieces.

Then they all got cut out and sanded.

Unlike the honey combs, I will not be rounding the edges of these pieces.  The end result should look something like the honey combs popping out of a circle.  So next I drilled some pocket holes into those pieces.

To make things easier on myself I first glued and nailed each of the curves in place.

Then I flipped the whole thing upside-down and screwed in pocket screws.

And those curves are looking great!

Then I drilled holes with countersinks into each of those curves.  This is what will mount the whole unit to the wall.

Then, as I was taking a last look at it for the night, I thought that glue and nails might not be enough to keep this thing together.  I hastily drilled screws connecting each hexagon.

The screws don't look great - mostly because I was tired and just drilled them in.  But tomorrow I'll unscrew them and properly make counter sinks so they're not as visible.

Whenever you're tired just call it a day.  I don't think the screws are mistakes, but I could have done it a lot better.  So after a good nights rest, I removed all the screws and fixed my mistakes from the previous night.

Then I added wood filler to a few spots - mostly nail holes.

While that dried I needed to make similar wall mounts for the other honey comb.

So I used a spare 1x2 board...

...and set up my block to cut 4 of the same sized pieces.

Then I moved the blade back to 30 degrees and cut one side of each block.

2 of these mounts will go in between 2 of the hexagons...

...and 2 will go at each end.  I marked where to cut each board...

...and then cut them on the miter saw.  Note that 2 are parallelograms, and 2 are trapezoids.

Then I glued and nailed them in place...

...and used clamps to make sure they stay put.

These pieces also received a countersink and screw hole for mounting.

When everything dried on both shelves I sanded them both by hand.

Then I thoroughly cleaned them up with a damp rag.

Next I applied Danish oil to both...

...and let them dry.

The directions for the Danish oil suggests letting it sit for 72 hours before using any polyurethane or lacquers, so I'll let them sit for a few days.

While I waited I decided to use stain on the hexagon box and lid.

When the stain dried I decided to try out something new -  spray lacquer - instead of my usual clear coat (Rustoleum Clear Enamel).

So I gave it a few coats and let it dry. 

I can honestly say that I don't see much difference between the Lacquer and the Clear Coat enamel I normally use.  They both smell the same, dry about the same and do the same thing.  Lacquer costs more though.

Next I went out and bout some nice hinges...

...and attached them to the box and lid.

Now it opens and closes.

I also added a leftover knob I had to make it easier to open.

Although I had fun making this box, it did not turn out as nicely as I hoped it would.  But it's a useful box for storing some hardware I have hanging around my workshop.

A day later I decided I didn't want the honey combs to have a glossy finish.  Danish oil will protect the wood just fine, so I hung them up in our living room.

 I think they look pretty good!

When my girlfriend came home from work she put some of her Funko Pop figures on the horizontal honey combs.

For the big honey combs she wanted to put pictures in each hexagon.  We went to the store to get picture frames that will fit in each hexagon (approximately 4x6), but there wasn't much and we didn't like the selection.  So I got a piece of scrap wood and ripped it on the table saw to 4 inches.

Then I cut that strip into 6-inch pieces on the miter saw.

Next I cut some 3x3 pieces of wood on the miter saw.  These will be the easels for each frame.

Then I made a series of angled cuts on the easels.  First was a small 5-degree cut...

...then I rotated the piece and gave it a 10-degree cut.

These cuts will make sure that the picture frame stands up, but not at an angle that is hard to see.

Then I gave each frame a rounded edge on the router table...

...followed by gluing and nailing the frames to the easels.

I wanted these frames to be a little darker than the honey combs, so I added a little stain to the Danish oil.

Then I applied the darker oil to the frames.

When the oil fully dried I placed one of the frames in the honey comb.  The easels were a slight bit too long, so I used my jig saw to make them shorter.

Now the frames sit nicely inside each honey comb.

I think we should take some pictures and do something funny, like below.

I don't think my girlfriend will go for it though.  But I have faith she'll do something nice.

So, the total cost for me for the 2 honey comb shelves was $52.79 - this includes all the original and extra lumber, plus the cost of the spray lacquer and Danish oil.  My costs do not include the new saw blade, nor the little things I already have such as glue, nails and screws.  World Market's one honey comb cost $110, so I saved $57.21 plus I have 2 shelves, a box and some frames.

Not too bad!  Thanks for reading!


  1. Timbo, great to see your amazing work! I am so envious of the prices you pay for dressed timber - it seems to be about a quarter of what we'd pay here, even allowing for currency differences. Regards to you and yours, Phil.

    1. Always good to hear from you Phil. I still consider myself a newbie when it comes to woodworking so I tend to use the cheapest wood I can find. Some of the nicer woods here are quite expensive as well.