Nifty & Easy Adjustable Shelves
Just about any Saturday afternoon we could mosey on over to Dad’s workshop and there he would be – drilling, sanding, chiseling and hammering, and otherwise completely oblivious to the rest of the world around him. No matter how simple the project his concentration never appeared less than incredibly intense. He loved his workshop. We sometimes wonder where he got his ideas and if he was still alive would he build the projects we write about??
We think he would have liked this one. It’s a project he could easily have finished during just one of his infamous Saturday afternoons. This is one you will definitely want to attempt if you’re tired of doing the same thing as everyone else. Shelving is something we all need more of. And finding a way to make exposed shelving look interesting can often be a challenge. Although these shelves can be used inside cabinetry the system is a prime candidate for supporting exposed shelving between two house or wing walls. Keep in mind that this is an end support system and that shelves that are too long and narrow for the weight placed upon them can sag and even break. Careful, a piece of 1×12 pine is good for about 4 of books.
There isn’t anything about this project that looks anything like regular shelving alternatives. OK, you can go to your local hardware store or home center and find a gazillion shelving choices. But that isn’t what this is about. If your room has rounded corners and sweeping shapes you may want to add more of the same. And anyway, this is one that can be done so inexpensively. All you will need is a couple pieces of 1×4 for the end supports and some shelving or material to make your own.
Begin with the end support rails. You will need 2 – 1×4’s. (You choose the wood specie – there is no limit here). The end supports should be as long as the overall height of your shelving system. In other words, if you want the shelves to adjust over a length of 4’ then your 1×4’s will need to be 4’ long. It may be cheaper to purchase an eight-footer and cut the two pieces yourself – do you have a truck, van or SUV? Remember: The shelving can be pretty much any kind of one-by material you want to use. You may prefer high density particleboard; however, we prefer dimensional lumber (it is so much stronger). Also, you can mix and match. The shelving and the end support rails can be the same specie of lumber or you can be creative and mix species. Maple and Teak might look great together. Also, if you are painting this is one system that has endless possibilities. Simple can be beautiful.
Creating the end rails is easy. All you have to do is drill a series of equally spaced holes the length of the rail. Clamping the 1×4’s together so that their broad sides are in contact will make it easier to get holes that are exactly the same on both boards. Mark equally spaced points along one of the exposed broad faces. We used ¾ inch holes at ¾ inch intervals. For best results the two rails should be clamped down to a third piece of wood so that the drill doesn’t tear up the second rail as it exits. Keep in mind that you can elect any size hole necessary to accommodate your chosen shelving material thickness. Also, the increment (spacing between holes) can vary based on personal choice. We wouldn’t go any closer than ¾ of an inch.
With the holes drilled all you need to do is split the rails down the center. You end up with 4 – 1×2’s each 4’ long. Cool! Yikes, we forgot. Don’t split the rails until after you have sanded. Once split you can sand the cut surfaces. Next, you’ll need to fabricate your shelves. This means rounding the shelf ends to fit into the end rails. You can round the front edge as well. We used a router for this task, but if you’re a hard core do-it-yourselfer you may want to use a plane and sandpaper or a shaping plane or a rasp. Have at it.
At this point you can paint, stain and varnish, oil or otherwise apply your favorite finish. Once dry the end rails can be mounted. If you plan on showing off the mounting screws mount them on the high, flat portions of the rail. If you don’t want the screws to be so obvious slightly countersink them into the rounded area and fill with matching putty. How simple can building shelves be?!? And, that’s all there is to it.