Saturday, August 31, 2013

Shelving Crates

After we finished the pallet frame, we decided to check off another item on our to-build list, which would finish off our planned projects for the bathroom downstairs.  Samantha has had her eye on a number of pins for a while now, and we wanted to build some to display odds-and-ends in the bathroom.  This project also helped to balance out the picture frame on the other side, and hide some of the fixtures for our washing machine.

The construction part wasn't actually that complicated!  I think planning and stain took more time than the actual assembly and cutting. Samantha wanted a haphazard stack of crates, so the first thing we did was measure the rough outlines for how much wall space she wanted to use up, and then sketch out the crate arrangement she was looking for.  Then I went back to the measurements and figured out a size for each crate.

Initially, we planned to make the entire crate out of 1x3 lumber.  When I cut and laid out the first crate, though, we very quickly realized that the shelves would not be deep enough to safely display wide items, like mason jars. We ended up using 1x4s as the crate frame instead.

I cut and sanded all the boards right away.  I had already decided on the length and height of each crate, so all I had to do was cut two 1x4s and three or four 1x3s (depending on the final width of the crate) to the crate's length.  I calculated the length of the shorter 1x4s by subtracting the thickness of two boards from the desired width of the crate.

Next, I assembled the frame of each crate.  To do this, I clamped one of the short boards to one of the long boards, then nailed in through the long board's side.

Repeat on the other end of the long board

Isn't the nail gun sweet?  My lovely and thoughtful wife gave it to me for my birthday.  The entire week before my birthday, she kept me from starting this project because she knew I would want to use the new gun to assemble these crates :)

I should have used shorter (1-1/4"?) nails to do this ... but the nail gun came with a box of 2" nails, and I didn't want to run out to the store.  As a result, I had several nails deflect and pop out of the side, and I had to pull them out and re-shoot.

To square up the assembly when fastening the second side, I set my clamps at a bit of an angle (you can't see the other clamp, but it is angled in the opposite direction).  By loosening and tightening these, I was able to change the alignment of the box until it was perfectly square, at which point I drove in a pair of nails.

And now that the box is pinned in place, go back and drive in a few more nails for good measure (and because the new nail gun was fun).

Now that the frame is done, you can add the slats to the back.  Depending on the width of the box and the spacing you want between the slats, the number may vary - I decided to use a consistent slat spacing for all the crates. Find the center of the crate frame, then line it up with either the center of a slat or the center of a space.  The picture below is marked for the center of a slat.

 Nail the center slat(s) in place, then use spacer blocks to lay out the next slats.

On the first side, only put one nail in each slat.  Once you've finished nailing the slats into the second end, you can come back and put in a few more nails.  Doing it this way will make it easier to adjust the spacing on the second end. 

You can see the deflected nails I mentioned earlier: extract these with pliers / hammer and re-shoot.

Doing it this way will almost guarantee that the edge of the slat will not line up with the edge of the frame. If it falls short of the edge but is still close, I left it like that.  If it was sticking out past the edge like in the picture above, I ran it through the table saw with the blade just a fraction of an inch higher than the slat and with the fence positioned to cut just on the outside of the frame.

Here are some shots of the crates being arranged into their final configuration!

To finish off the crates, I used two coats of Minwax Special Walnut (to match the pallet frame already in that room).  That gallon of stain is the same one I bought all the way back during the Farmhouse Table build.

After staining, I wiped on a coat of Arm-R-Seal polyurethane. This is how I get rid of old socks - put on a disposable glove, slip my hand inside the sock, and use the sock as a rag to wipe on the finish.

To hang them on the wall, I found the studs and screwed straight through the back slats into the wall.  Definitely pre-drill the screw holes here - if you drive the screw straight through, you will probably cause a split or two and damage the finish.  Then all you need to do is add decorations!

Tool List:
Miter saw
Nail gun (or just hammer & nails)
Drill (to mount to the wall)

Crate Sizes:

Cut List:
1x3 slats - 36" (7), 32" (3), 22" (3), 18" (3), 40" (4)
1x4 top/bottom pairs - 40", 36" (x2), 32", 22, 18"
1x4 side pairs - 12", 10" (x2), 9", 8" (x2) - subtract the width of your top piece x2 from the initial length of the side piece, so that the with of the bottom piece, length of the side piece, and width of the top piece equal the measurement given here.

Inspiration Sources:
My House, My Home
Lilium Designs

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