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Hangin' Shelves

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Recently, I went on a small roadtrip to empty out a storage locker I was renting on Long Island. This is where I put all my stuff when I went to Europe and most of it had been sitting there since 2006. It was mostly books.

After filling a Chevy Equinox and driving back to Utah, I found myself with several tubs filled with books and nowhere to put them.

So I built some shelves:

I want to put a couch in that spot eventually, so between that desire and the baseboard heaters, a full-height shelf was out of the question. It's also pretty much the only spot with that much room and I didn't have any really good ideas for decorating that wall anyway.

I considered giving the shelf supporting legs like my medicine cabinet, which would also force the couch to have some distance from the heater and give space for air to rise.

In the end I just decided on hanging them via a French cleat though.

The diagram above depicts one of the two vertical supports. There is a cutout at the back for the cleat. The side supports merely bracket the cleat. The cleat is a 2x6 that has been ripped at a 45-degree angle. Each half forms a "claw" to hold each other. The lower cleat is fastened to the wall and the upper cleat slips over it. This allows me to only have to hold the lower cleat against the wall in order to mount it, then I can slip the shelf over the cleat with minimal effort (still a lot of effort).

The 2x2 at front adds some beefier support to the verticals, but it's mostly there to mimic the styling cues of some existing shelves. Here's the lower cleat up:

I mounted it using 4" by 1/4" Spax fasteners. The go to fastener for this is a lag bolt, but this is the 21st-century. A Spax is made of much higher-quality steel and its threads are toothed to self drill. So I used the much superior Spax Powerlag. It takes almost 300 pounds of force to to pull one out of the wall. I used five, each in a stud. Though the leftmost one felt a bit dodgy going in...

I added the angled bottom as spacer to protect a couch from the heater, though I ended up hanging the shelf a bit high for that. However, I realized it gave me room for another shelf made out of a 1x4 and that such a shelf would be a great place to put sodas. So I added cupholders:

Here's the shelf mounted before I put books on it. I swear the shelf is dead level, it's the apartment that is crooked:

So now most my books have somewhere to live, including the five I bought today. The only ones without a home are all my physics and programming books. I guess I could hang a shelf in my office. I did buy extra fasteners...




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