So today, I decided to tackle a problem that’s been pestering me for a while now, ever since we moved in to this house. Namely, I am a stay-at-home dad (though I prefer the title House Commander) and the only real time I get to play in the workshop is nap time for the munchkins. For the past year, at the rental house and for the month at the new house, I have been bringing the monitors out to the shop and setting them on a ladder (conveniently enough, leaning next to the garage door and the main outlet).
That had to change today though, because my task for the day was to clear a path around the side of my car by removing the three ladders (a 16’, 10’ and 5’) leaning against the wall next to the door into the house. They’ve been there since we moved in because it was easy to leave them there and we haven’t needed them. It’s time to hang ‘em up. But, there goes my baby monitor stand.
I decided to kill three birds with one stone today by building a simple shelf: (1) make a permanent place (that looks a little better than the paint stained ladder) to house the monitors when I am in the garage, (2) make a nice place for our new Ridgid battery charger (that goes along with our new Ridgid drill/driver and impact driver combo set we got in preparation for the Sky Fort assembly job) and (3) (cue dramatic dunh-dunh-dunnnnnnnh music) reduce the scrap wood pile that is growing like a monster.
So! First off, I measured how much space it would take for me make this shelf—I needed to hold the 7 inch charger and two 3 inch monitors with a little space to spare. I had a nice piece of ½” x 6” Aspen that just happened to be 17” in length. Shelf done. Now for the support. I figured I’d use some of the 1” x 4” scrap I had laying around taking up space. I wanted it to be big enough to support the shelf and maybe have space below for a few hooks for odds and ends or power cord storage.
First thing I did was drill 4 holes to prep for the screws to hold the top to the wall support.
Then I clamped the wall support to my make-shift bench (one day…one day I’ll build my very own REAL bench…) and then used other clamps to attach the top to the base and drilled holes to match the ones I just made in the top.
Next up, I glued the two pieces, re-clamped them and screwed ‘em together with 2” coarse thread drywall screws (I heard these were essentially the do-it-all go to screws of choice and figured for $4 for a pound of the little suckers, why not). Looking at the shelf, I figured I’d need some sort of braces on either end to keep the top from drooping under the weight of the battery charger (and 18v Li-Ion battery) and monitors. Easy enough—I had a scrap piece of ¼” birch plywood and quickly hacked off 2 triangles with the hand saw.
As I test fit the triangles, I noticed they weren’t square to the shelf—turns out the shelf was slightly twisted. So, I decided to add a 2 chocks (I’m not sure what the technical term for these pieces are, but chocks sounds right to me) to each support and drilled some pilot holes from the back to attach them to the base.
Then I took another long hard look and decided to put a screw through the chocks and the support horizontally as well to keep everything nice and tight.
If you’re gonna do it, as Mike Holmes says, do it right. I equate that with NASA’s motto: redundancy, redundancy, redundancy (hey, if they can lob a nuclear powered VW bug millions of miles across space and drop the thing from a 70 ft crane—on ROCKETS—and do it right the first time…they must know something, right?). Then it was time to glue all the pieces up to the shelf and screw ‘em down.
As the glue dried, I realized with a gleam in my eye that the shelf was essentially done and there was nothing holding me back (except the dripping glue) from mounting it to the wall and letting it dry in place. So that’s what I did. Got the old level out, eyeballed a height, made my marks and found the studs, then screwed this bad boy to the wall. The result:
Now I have a rock steady (and level, though the picture looks off, it’s quite level) little shelf that took a little bite out the scrap pile, holds up the monitors and secures our charger. Awesome. I feel giddy from having a design I thought up at snack time come to life during nap time, in less than an hour and a half.
Oh, and for you folks keeping score at home—I got the big ladder up on the wall just before the kids woke up…so, my mission will continue tomorrow. I will have all the ladders out of the way. But I was glad for the woodworking diversion today brought.
TAKE AWAYS: So what did I learn? The value of patience. I hear it’s a good thing, like a virtue, sort of…well, it may have helped me if I had applied a little to this project. I passed the shelf a little later tonight and noticed the bottom of the triangle plywood braces have pulled away from the backing support. The 1″ x 4″ back support was warped, but I didn’t notice it this afternoon because it was clamped. So, upon gluing and screwing, it should have fixed this, right? Wrong. I didn’t leave it clamped to let the glue dry (see, there’s that patience thing again) but decided to hang it on the wall. Well, in the past few hours, the damage was done. Oh well. It’s only a gap at the bottom about 1/16″ but it’s enough to bug the snot out of me. I guess that’s a good thing that I’m upset by it.
Another thing I will remember for next time is to continue to think up new ways to use clamps. I was quite pleased with myself for coming up with the combination of clamps to hold this thing down while I drilled pilot holes. In the past, I would have just used one set and likely would have been frustrated enough to say the heck with the screws and nail this thing together. Progress!
Ah, but I have another project coming soon: building a cage for the scrap wood pile before it completely buries the poor miter saw (still in it’s box) that we haven’t even used yet! Which means, I ‘ll have to make a miter saw station. Oh…and we’ll need a place to put the router table my Father-in-Law so graciously donated to the cause. Hmm…then those will have to be leveled with the near-mythical workbench I’m dreaming up…the projects just keep coming!