|Project by Justin||posted 12-07-2015 04:57 PM||2000 views||9 times favorited||10 comments|
First project here. My wife thought a functional pantry closet would be a wonderful thing. I set about designing the shelving in SolidWorks (I work at an engineering firm) and after a few iterations we chose this design. The construction is quite simple but I think it’s an approach that works well for spaces that are both narrow & deep. This closet is almost square at roughly 28” wide by 24” deep.
I was afraid if the main shelf was too deep, the stuff that got pushed to the back would be hard to see and even harder to access. At the same time I didn’t want to give up the valuable space on the sides by just making straight shelves across the back. An added bonus is the very top shelf would be unusable if it was deep, but in this configuration it’s very easy to reach up there and put away or fetch larger, seldom used items.
I wanted to set it up with one tall shelf for cereal boxes to fit nicely while the rest would be close enough together that things wouldn’t getting stacked up on each other too much. We settled on 12” apart, top-surface to top-surface, except for the one at 15” for tall boxes. This seems to have worked out perfectly.
I cut the main shelves 12” deep and set them all aside. The wings are 10” x 8”, and the arc is a 5.75” radius. I cut the rectangular blanks on the table saw and then cut the arc with a jigsaw. The jigsaw cut was pretty rough so I smoothed out & squared the radius cut with a cheap-o drum sander mounted in the drill press.
Studs were few and far between inside this closet. I was able to hit one stud mid-span on each of the cleats but the ends were a challenge. I ended up running a pocket screw hole into the end of the side cleats, then drilling a pilot hole deeper through the rear cleat. I screwed a 3-inch cabinet screw into this hole to tie the ends of both cleats into the corner framing that was hiding back there. For the front ends of the side cleats I used pocket screws again, and screwed them into the casework of the door frame. This use of the pocket screws was much more successful than the butt joints, in my opinion.
The hardest part was scribing and fitting the assembled shelves to the plaster walls. The walls were far from flat, straight, or square. Once I got the lower two shelves mounted I sat on one as a sag test. It felt super solid, so I figure it should be more than adequate for anything we might pile up in there.
This was my first time using pocket screws, and although I’m sure they have their moments I am not necessarily a fan. My plan was always to dowel the shelf parts together but in the interest of efficiency I opted for the little Kreg Mini jig. I used glue (of course) and two opposing screws out in the unsupported area of the joint, and one more where it would be hidden by the shelf support cleat. In this application I think the pockets screws were an OK choice, but they seem to have their problems. I had some trouble keeping the joints flat at times, even with multiple clamps and cauls. Some of the joints also tried to buckle a little bit. I may have been overtightening the screws, or maybe pocket screws are not good at butt joints. Need to play with them a bit more.
Materials are Sandeply 3/4” from Home Depot and Birch iron-on edge banding. Cleats are 1×2 pine stock right off the rack. Assembly is Titebond II and pocket screws. I sanded the plywood with 220 grit on a random orbital sander, and finished it very simply with Johnson’s paste wax, applied medium-heavy and buffed out. The result is impressively silky and smooth.
There are six shelves altogether, with the bottom shelf having no wings. I have models drawn for a couple of tip-out vegetable bins to go in those spaces, so I’ll update this project if I end up making them.
I definitely screwed up the grain direction on some of the shelves. If I did this again I would definitely pay closer attention to that.
Comments welcome and appreciated.