Monday, April 4, 2016

Revised Workshop Shelves

When I began woodworking several years ago, I lived in a small apartment in New York.  I one day hoped I would have a house with a garage or shed to work on wood projects just like my Grandfather had.  The picture below is not my actual Grandfather's shed, but I like to think it looked like that since I can't remember.


But living on Long Island is very, very expensive and I couldn't afford to buy a house there, and honestly renting there is almost worse.  So I decided to move to Arizona where the cost of living is significantly less and I got a house with a nice 2-car garage.


Since living here I've made shelves, carts and tables for my workshop.  Although, 2 shelves in particular have been nagging me for an upgrade.  The first shelf - what I call the short shelf - was thrown up on my garage wall using leftover material.  It's simply a box attached to the wall with cleats.


This shelf used to house all my sanders, and my jigsaw.  I have since built a better work table that holds those tools, so nowadays the shelf holds my router accessories, leftover sand paper, glue, oils, nails and other stuff that I use often.


Underneath the short shelf I have various wooden mounts for my 2 drills/drivers, my hammer and assorted squares.


On the other wall of my garage hangs what I call the Long shelf.  This too once held a lot more of my tools, and still holds random boxes, tools and my circular saw.  And of course a bunch of my helmets on top.


Unlike the short shelf, this shelf has always worried me.  I did not make proper cleats for this one, and I am honestly surprised it never fell down.


So I think it's time to rebuild these shelves to be stronger and nicer looking.   I have after all built some nice looking wall shelves for my office. 


All my nerdy junk is on these shelves.  


I'd also like to incorporate a smaller, bottom shelf to my new units.  This will require longer sides.  So I started on the long shelf since that's been bothering me the most for a long time.  I took it down and cleaned up the wall a bit.  I have hopes for attaching the power strip to the shelf somewhere.  No matter where I seem to put it, it always wiggles around -  but for now it has to stay on the wall.


I'll be using the same wood for the new shelves, so I took the old one apart.


When I first made this the sides were attached to each shelf with pocket holes.  So it didn't matter much that the shelves' edges were not square.  For the new shelves I plan on making dadoes, so I need the ends of each shelf board to be square.


To do this I clamped the boards to my work table so that the long edges were flush.


Then I used a guide and my circular saw to cut the edges to be perfectly square.


Then I unmounted the short shelf, along with all the mounts for the drivers and such, and repeated the process of squaring up the boards.


Next it was time to buy some more wood!  I made sure to buy enough wood for new, longer sides for each unit, a smaller bottom shelf for each unit and cleats for every shelf - new and old.


I started by clamping and cutting the 2 boards that will make the sides of both the long and short shelves.


Then once again I squared both sides.


Next I drew lines on the side boards, showing where the dadoes will be cut.


Then I attached a 3/4" straight bit into my router table (the same thickness as the boards).


For the top and bottom shelves I'll be cutting right to the edge, so I clamped down my fence on the router table to trim only those areas.


This cut is actually called a "rabbet".


A rabbet and a dado are actually the same thing, the only difference being that a rabbet is on the edge of a board and a dado is in the middle of a board.


My router table isn't big enough to cut a dado in the center of the board, so I opted to clamp down all 4 sides with a clamping straight edge, and cut the dado that way.


After a little sanding to clean up all the cuts, I drew curves on the sides in pencil.


I then cut out the curves with the jig saw.


I used the first piece as a template on the second piece, making sure to make mirrored cuts.


I repeated the process with the other 2 sides.


Then I used my mouse sander to clean up all the cut edges.


I attached a round over bit into the router table and rounded the edges of the sides to make it look nicer.


Then it was time to start cutting the smaller pieces of wood that make up the cleats and the smaller bottom shelves.


The short boards were quick and easy to cut with the help of a stop block on my miter saw.  The longer boards took more time, as they were too long for the extension arms of my miter saw.


For the 2 small bottom shelves and the original larger shelves, I also rounded the edges.


Now it's time for a little assembly.  I added glue to the middle dado on the smaller unit...


...then I temporarily attached the side to the middle shelf with brad nails, making sure everything was square.  I then repeated the process on the other side.


Next I added glue to the top rabbet and attached the top shelf the same way.


Lastly I did the same thing for the bottom small shelf.


Once everything was together with glue and nails, I drilled holes with counter sinks...


...and screwed in screws.


Then I attached the cleats with glue and screws.  One under the top shelf, one under the middle shelf and one above the bottom shelf.


And construction is done on the shorter shelf.


But before I hang it up, I decided to use my jig saw to cut away spaces from the bottom shelf to hold my drills and hammer.


Next I attached the unit to the wall, making sure it was level and that some screws went directly into the wall studs.


Then I loaded the shelf up!


Wow!  This shelf looks a million times better than the old one, and it's stronger too!


With the short shelf done, I repeated all the same processes on the larger shelf.  This one didn't fit on my work table, so I started off working on the floor...


...and ended up using my carpenter benches.


I took the power strip off the wall finally and attached it to the bottom of the unit.


Then I hung it up, again making sure it was level and drilled into wall studs.  


I actually didn't like the power strip underneath the shelf, so I removed it and mounted it directly to the bottom shelf.  This thing is securely on, and there's no wiggles! 


Then I loaded it up as well and I'm done!


At last the long shelf is strong and looks nice!


Both shelves turned out nicely.  I couldn't be happier.


This project took me a day to do.  I'm almost surprised I didn't do it sooner.  The old shelves were always an eyesore.


The next day I was loving my shelves so much I decided to move my tools back onto them.  The Shelves now hold all my sanders again, along with my jigsaw, circular saw and nail gun.



For the bottom shelf I actually put my hammer back on it's original holder and put my favorite chisel in it's place.  The ledge behind the bottom shelf is wide enough to hold pencils and markers.  The drill on the right kept slipping in the hole I cut, so I glued a block next to it to keep it upright.


The other shelf holds my hand saws (in the box all the way to the left), my reciprocating saw, my angle grinder, multipurpose tool and my fostner bit set, along with some other stuff.


On the sides I made little mounts to hold some of my squeeze clamps.


The bottom shelf holds my levels, markers, pencils, a tape measure, my push sticks and some of my bar and spring clamps.


Everything that was once on the shelves now fit on my work table shelves.  I definitely like this arrangement better!  A few weeks later I even wound up making a 3rd wall shelf!


Now I have even more room for tools, storage and helmets!


And then a few weeks after that I took down my cork boards and made a 4th shelf!


This one is a bit different though.  The height of the middle shelf is lower, so it can fit taller stuff, such as my nail gun.


I also used the cork from my cork board and filled in the bottom area.


I also wound up building a shelf specifically for holding most of my bar clamps.


This thing is really handy!


It's hard to see in the picture, but in addition to the shelf holding 27 bar clamps, it also holds my 2 bench dogs, 2 feather boards, my table saw jointing jig, my Microjig, a corner clamp, 2 Kreg clamps, and at the moment 2 helmets.


I'm running out of places to put new shelving, but I probably won't need to since almost all my stuff is stored on theses shelves!
Thanks for reading!

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