Saturday, July 17, 2010

Building Shelves, Part 3

Welcome Preppers and Survivalists,

In my first article, about building shelves, I built some shelves that were 8 feet long, 2 feet deep, and 8 feet tall. The shelves were 2 feet apart for a total of 4 shelves. Lastly, I used 2x3s for the shelf supports (horizontal pieces), 2x4s for the legs (vertical pieces), and OSB for the shelves.

In "Building Shelves, Part 2" I wrote about a mistake I had made on the shelves my family and I are currently using. I also wrote about the modifications I had made to the basic design and a few ideas on how to store your stuff. Lastly, I talked a little about how to figure out a walkway disatance between each sets of shelves if you built more than one shelf.

In this article, I am going to cover using 2x4 shelf supports and 4x4 legs for building shelves. You can thank Riverwalker, over at Stealth Survival, for this post because he had asked about using 4x4s and 2x4s for building shelves. Thanks Riverwalker!

OK. Let's start.

The first thing you want to do is have a plan. I sometimes draw out my ideas on a sheet of paper, this allows me to test my ideas.

For this article I plan to build a 12 feet long by 2 feet wide workbench. (I know it's not a shelf, but you can use the techniques to build shelves) The workbench will have 2 eight feet shelves and one 4 feet shelf. The 2 eight feet shelves will be about 12 inches apart, and the 4 feet shelf will be about 30 inches from the workbench's top. Plus, I wanted the lowest shelf supports to be 3 inches from the floor to allow me to sweep under the workbench.

Oh, I forgot. The workbench will be 3 feet high.

The next thing I do, after making my plan, is cut the eight feet long 4x4s into 2 three feet pieces. Now, I measure from each end then mark the 4x4. If you are using a circular saw to cut your lumber, make sure your 3 feet saw line mark goes all the way around the 4x4. The reason, a circular saw blade won't cut all the way through a 4x4. If you are using a hand saw, you just need to mark one line for your guide.

After, I mark all my 4x4s; I cut the 4x4s to length. Because I am doing a large project, I complete one step before going on to the next step.

Once the 4x4s are cut to length, I mark the 4x4s for the notches I will be cutting. Now, I usually mark the height I want my shelves then mark where the bottom of the notch will be. Because I will be using 2x4s as shelf supports, I will need a 3 1/2 inch notch that is 1 1/2 inches deep.

For the next step, there are a few different ways of doing it. You can cut the top and bottom of the notch than cut the sides and use a chisel to finish up; You can chisel the wood out of the notch; or you can do it some other way.

Either way you use, you will have a notch, but let me give you the easiest way I have found, so far, using a circular saw.

First, you need to set the blade of the circular saw to the correct depth. One way to do that is unplug the saw then set the saw on top of a 2x4 laying on its widest side. Loosen the blade depth knob and push or pull on the base until the bottom of the blade is a little bit past the bottom of the 2x4, as it rests on the 2x4.

Next, cut the top and bottom of the notch then cut a bunch of cuts between those two cuts. After you have made all the cuts, take a hammer and knock the wafers of wood out of the notch. Once all the little pieces of wood have been knocked out, you can use the hammer's claw to smooth up the notch. If you look at the picture to the left, you can see what the 4x4 will look like as each step is done.

Sometimes I use a chisel to smooth up the notches in the 4x4, but I couldn't find my chisel until after I was finished. Plus, look at how smooth the notches are just using the hammer's claw.

Once, all the 4x4s are cut and notched; I lay out the 4x4s for putting the shelf supports on. Just like the first set of shelves, I have a leg every 4 feet. Next, I lay a 2x4 into the notch and, using three nails, nail the 2x4 to the 4x4. After I have done that, I nail the 21 inch pieces of 2x4 between the shelf supports. Next, cut the plywood shelf to the proper width and depth. Lastly, notch the plywood and put the plywood on the shelf supports.

However, I'm not finished because for this 12 feet long bench, I am using "found" lumber that includes having only two 4x4s, one 2x4 by 12 feet long, a bunch of 2x3s that I cut the wrong size, last time, and some 2x4s. Yea, I don't have any plywood, yet.

Since I was short two 4x4s this caused me to make my own. The way I did that was to cut some 2x4s to a three feet length. Next, I laid a finished 4x4 next to the 2x4s and marked where each notch was. I put a "W" where each notch was, so I wouldn't get mix up. Next I cut 2x4s to fill in each part between the notches. The picture to the left shows a progression of making these "4x4s"

Next, I put the 4x4s on the ground and laid the 2x4 shelf supports into the notches. Since I have only one 12 feet long 2x4, I put that in the top notches that will be the front of the bench.

In the photograph to the left, you can see the basic layout of the shelves.

After I did the front side of the shelves, I laid out the back side of the shelves. This part of the project had me thinking about the placement of the shelf supports. I wanted to make sure that the legs were as solid as possible.

You will notice in the above picture; how I staggered each  8 feet long piece of lumber to try and get that strength. Next I filled in the missing pieces with 4 feet long pieces of 2x4.

Once all that was finished, I took 21 inches long pieces of 2x4 and 2x3 and nailed them between the shelf supports.

Here is a picture of the finished shelf supports and legs. It is the ugliest bench I have ever made, but most of the wood was found or given to me by friends.

As always, I took some photos that don't fit into the narrative of the article. Here they are

The first picture shows how much sawdust and little wafers of wood are produced when notching the 4x4s. The sawdust is about 1/2 inch thick on the left side of the picture, and No, I didn't sweep it before taking the picture.

The next picture shows how to use a piece of scrap lumber to make pulling a nail out of a piece of wood a whole lot easier. Plus, you don't end up hitting yourself with the hammer because you had to use so much force without the scrap lumber.

The last picture shows an error I made when I put the bench together. Because of this miscalculation, I had to tear apart the bottom part. I ended up breaking some of the wood, but I was lucky; I had more wood.

My mistake. I couldn't put the two assemblies together because the shelf supports, and some of the legs, where in the wrong place. (See the picture, from the top, that looks like this one)

I never use 4x4s for shelf legs when I am building shelves because they are expensive compared to 2x4s. I have found that using 2x4s are just fine. I have also found that using 2x3s for shelf supports keeps my costs down, but Riverwalker made a point. Some folks don't have 2x3s in their lumber stores.

If you want to use 2x4s as shelf supports and shelf legs, that's cool. Just remember, you will have to have 3 1/2 inches notches for the shelf supports to fit the shelf legs.

Virginia Tech - Portable Circular Saw