Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Storage Container Shelving System

     The three weeks of spare time I had between vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland and Oregon, I spent my time designing and building a storage box for these storage containers. These have been on sale all Summer (although they were $3.99 each when I bought six for myself). They are rather cheaply made, but perfect for holding electronic components and I bet you won't be able to find anything comparable for cheaper, especially because you'll want to buy a bunch of them because they're so handy. I had them stacked in my room and it was a bear to pick through each of them to find the container I wanted, so I knew I had to build a set of shelves for them. While thinking about the design, I came up with the idea to put a lidded box on top of the shelving system. It will replace the wooden box I made in 7th grade woodshop that wasn't my best work. I documented my build by taking pictures and will go through the process after the break.


     After measuring my storage containers and deciding that I wanted the top container to be 4" deep, I searched though our wood pile for enough decent scrap to get my project built. The wood was all 3/4" thick and unfortunately, as it was scrap wood, it was sufficiently bowed and, since our planer blades were in need of sharpening, the larger pieces of wood were not perfectly flat. Despite this, everything came together in the end.

I had to dig through all this just to find about a half
dozen pieces that were "good enough" for this project




  

My designs for the storage shelves

     After cutting out all the pieces, I cut slots in each of the two sides for the 3/8" plywood shelves. There are six total, with the uppermost one acting as the bottom for the box on top. After I had all those worked out, I made a trim piece that will fit on the front to cover the cuts that I made for the shelves.

Shelves in place

Front trim in place allowing for a clean finish

     After I was sure that everything fit together as I wanted it, I sanded it all down with 80 then 150 grit sandpaper using a palm sander. After that, I began the long process of staining the wood. I choose Early American stain from Minwax because it matched my current furniture the best and I wanted a lighter color. I applied two coats of stain over the course of two nights. I applied it with a rag each time. The following night I applied a coat of polyurethane with a brush and the aesthetics were finished. While polyurethaning, my dad told me a trick so I could coat all the surfaces at once; he suggested using a roofing nail balanced through a piece of cardboard with only the point touching the wood. It worked out spectacularly and I couldn't even find a visible mark.

Finished sanding

One coat of stain

All the pieces gleaming with polyurethane on top
of their makeshift nail stands

     Once everything was dry, it was time to put everything in its final place. Since the wood was bowed, it required a bunch of clamps to get everything straightened up. Once I was satisfied with its alignment, I used 1-1/4" nails in our pneumatic brad nailer to secure everything together. I'm sure I used a lot more nails than necessary, but I wanted to be sure that the warped wood wouldn't cause me any troubles once the clamps were removed.

A multitude of clamps

Trim in place on the right side; a slick way
to keep the shelves in place

     Once everything was nailed in place, I went ahead and mounted the lid to the box. On the back piece, I chiseled an area out so the 1" hinges would let the lid lay flat. After figuring out where the hinges belong on the lid and drilling and mounting them with the included screws, my box was finished.

Hinges in place

     Overall, this is a huge improvement over my old system and I believe it not only functions better, it looks better while doing so. The only thing left to do is organize the components in the storage containers and I will call this project a complete success.

Before

After