Do it yourself

When we bought our house, we also inherited two MDF shelves, stacked into a low bench, which at some point became our shoe rack. @potoft decided this didn’t quite fit into her vision for the aesthetic integrity of the house. So, she bought a few baskets with lids to go on the ‘bench’ to try and make things a little tidier. For some reason, I found myself volunteering to make a new unit.
So, starting with the need to house 4 baskets, I started sketching some ideas – the principal constraint being avoiding blocking vents on the wall heater.

However, the baskets @potoft had bought had hinged lids on so, she wanted at least two of the baskets to be easily accessible, so I redesigned, having a hinged wooden lid instead.

In the end I went with something a little bit more simple. Using my B&Q branded square I measured out my pieces- two sides, two shelves and some bracing batons.

To save me developing tennis elbow, or some similar ailment I opted to use my jigsaw rather than a tenon saw, sacrificing a bit of stability, predictability and precision for speed and ease.

To maintain a straight sawing line, I used a baton, held on with some G-clamps, parallel to my cutting line to allow the shoe of the jigsaw to follow the straight edge.

The trickiest bit was putting on a curve on the corners, to try and make the unit look less boxy. Ideally I would have used a router to put some detailing onto the edge, but alas I don’t own a router, and for this project, it would be uneconomical to acquire one.

I was making this project using laminated pineboards (strips of pine glued together), which I discovered is not the easiest material to saw, as each strip behaved differently with the saw, and the glue holding the strips is also quite tough. I achieved the curve by using several straight lines, gradually building up a curve. Once I had done one side of the shelves, I flipped the board over onto the other side and used it as a template.

As a relatively simple unit, I decided not to bother with dowels to hold the unit together, using slightly less professional fixing blocks. Working out where I wanted the top shelf, I made a mark and measured 18mm (the thickness of my board) below.

Again, using my square I marked off a line and rested my fixing blocks on the line. I then drilled pilot holes for the screws using a small drill bit.

Using 1″, 6 gauge screws, I then attached the blocks to the sides before going on to screw into the shelves directly (very naughty, but the pine was sufficiently giving, and I tested this on a bit of offcut) – saving me having to measure out and drill pilot holes.

At this point, I should point out that DIY is readily improved by the provision of birthday cake.

However, some folk such as this squirrel don’t have an assistant to bring them cake, so whilst this squirrel watched me beavering away, he was helping himself to some of my nuts.

My nearly completed unit is shown below – I’ve sanded off the curves, but the wood needs varnishing or painting, and we will be putting a little gingham curtain across the bottom level to conceal the shoes on the bottom, which will be held up with curtain wire hidden behind a narrow baton. (I will also be disposing of the  off cuts on the left of the photo!)

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