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Floating Serpentine Shelf

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Project by Ron Stewart posted 07-13-2017 12:10 AM 617 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife and I wanted a set of shelves to mostly fill the back wall of our study, but we wanted something different and unique; we didn’t want a heavy looking wall of bookcases. My wife had two more requirements: the shelf had to be made of wood (unpainted), and it had to float on the wall instead of resting on the floor.

As usual, we went to Pinterest for inspiration and found a few things we liked, but we didn’t find exactly what we were after. Eventually, she came to me with a rough conceptual sketch, and I refined the design in SketchUp. These photos show the finished product.

It’s a very large unit, 78” tall and 99” wide, with chunky (1 3/4” thick) shelves. Given that, I was very concerned with its weight. I had to be able to build it, and we had to be able to get it on the wall and have it stay there. My rough estimates showed that it would weigh over 200 pounds if I made it from solid wood. That was way too heavy.

I solved the weight problem by building each shelf and side as a torsion box. Each shelf/side is a skeleton of 3/4” plywood spines and ribs covered with thin (0.2” thick) plywood skins. The back panel is constructed similarly. The entire unit weighs about 100 pounds. The longest shelf (87”) weighs 15 pounds, and the shortest (54”) weighs 11 pounds. It hangs on three French cleats.

The skins are made of 5mm RevolutionPly underlayment I found at Lowes. As far as I can tell, it’s a 3-ply product with a reconstituted veneer face on one side and primer on the other. The veneer side looks like quarter sawn wood. It accepted Danish Oil (Watco Natural) just fine, and it’s also very affordable ($14/sheet). I’m happy with it for this application.

For more details, see my series of blog posts for this project. Thanks for looking.

-- Ron Stewart





8 comments so far

View EugdOT's profile

EugdOT

199 posts in 250 days


#1 posted 07-13-2017 12:32 AM

Outstanding work.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile

woodbutcherbynight

3136 posts in 2104 days


#2 posted 07-13-2017 03:28 AM

Well you have succeeded at making something very unique! Good work looks great!

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View Rick M's profile

Rick M

9808 posts in 2075 days


#3 posted 07-13-2017 06:02 AM

The wood tone and blue color work together perfectly, well done.

-- http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View mahdee's profile

mahdee

3748 posts in 1463 days


#4 posted 07-13-2017 11:19 AM

Excellent work. I really complements the room.

-- earthartandfoods.com

View ChrisK's profile

ChrisK

1862 posts in 2777 days


#5 posted 07-13-2017 12:01 PM

Really nice take on the idea. Looks huge!

-- Chris K

View TraylorPark's profile

TraylorPark

190 posts in 1294 days


#6 posted 07-13-2017 12:36 PM

That is really, really cool. Great design and finish.

-- --Zach

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

26846 posts in 2562 days


#7 posted 07-13-2017 07:29 PM

It’s a very attractive set of shelves.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View 32studios's profile

32studios

8 posts in 59 days


#8 posted 07-18-2017 01:54 AM

this is great and i might just do a version for my sons room

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