Can I just build my own shelves to solve this problem?
January 16, 2014 11:02 AM   Subscribe

I have a stack of AV equipment next to our TV. I want a simple set of wooden shelves to tidy things up, but short narrow bookshelves don't seem to exist. Short OR narrow, but not short AND narrow. Anyone have any ideas of how I could simply do it myself?

Here's a pic of the current situation:

I need 18" of width for the receiver, and 14" of depth for the new turntable (which is forcing this issue since I can't just stack it on top of the current stack.)
posted by smackfu to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Describe your skills and your access to tools.
posted by LarryC at 11:05 AM on January 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I thought this is what cinder blocks and wood planks are for.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:06 AM on January 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Search Google for "stereo rack" and look under images. There are thousands of examples for this exact situation, both purchased and home-made.
posted by gyusan at 11:09 AM on January 16, 2014

The IKEA Rast nightstand might work for you. Interestingly, if you add the mounting hardware, rack-mounted audio equipment fits perfectly.
posted by Morydd at 11:12 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Go to the nearest Orchard Supply. Whenever I've needed to make customized bookshelves or a/v shelves, Orchard Supply has always hooked me up. They'll cut wood to measure and give you lots of useful advice on your project to boot.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 11:17 AM on January 16, 2014

Yes, stereo rack. Might also be under "component stand" or "component shelves".
posted by supercres at 11:21 AM on January 16, 2014

Hmm, let me try to refine the question a bit. If I go to Home Depot, do they sell the parts I would need to make some wooden shelves that would hold this stuff and not fall over?

(I know I can buy something but I only posted this question after getting frustrated that nothing fits our situation. Everything is either ugly, expensive, or too tall. And the DIY options I found were mainly stacking cheap IKEA veneer stuff, or that threaded rod thing from ages ago which is a bit too industrial.)

The IKEA Rast nightstand might work for you.

I actually have one of these sitting next to me, but it's too shallow to hold my turntable.
posted by smackfu at 11:35 AM on January 16, 2014

3rding a stereo rack. Components are mostly of a standard maximum width and there are racks available to fit them in. Most have glass fronts to theoretically keep the dust out.

You could DIY with some shelf parts from Home Depot but in the end it would cost you as much as a stereo rack and wouldn't be as nice. Plus you need some tools and enough skill so it doesn't look too shabby.

Hell, drive down a few streets on trash day you'll probably find a rack someone is tossing.

Edited after seeing your last comment:

Home Depot sells various grades of plywood in 2x4" sections. I might get a couple of these, cut them down to the size I wanted (for the sides and shelves) and screw/glue them together, maybe with some angle brackets for strength. Better still if you have access to a table saw or router you could put a groove (a rabbit? Dado?) into the sides for strength. You could always buy that white stuff I think is called Melamine.
posted by bondcliff at 11:35 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Not totally responsive to your question, but does shelving to order, in metal or wood, that can be mounted on their standards or compression poles. The widths are standard - 4", 6", 8", 12", but the length is cut to your specifications. (The width can also be custom-cut if necessary too, but you have to talk to them about that.) They are super helpful, and surprisingly inexpensive for how great the shelves look. I just ordered a set of compression poles and eight 6" wide shelves, and asked for a length of 22.125 inches. I sprang for the shelves with built in ends, which are significantly pricier, and the total was still under $400. The shelving starts at 8.50 per shelf, depending on the material you select. The standards or compression poles are about 150 a set.

ISS Designs

Edited to clarify: The people there are super helpful, and their designers spent a total of about an hour on the phone with me going over my options, even asking for pictures of the space so that they could make sure I was getting something that worked for me.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 11:56 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

If I go to Home Depot, do they sell the parts I would need to make some wooden shelves that would hold this stuff and not fall over?

"Parts" implies you're hoping for components you can plug together like Tinker Toys. I don't know of anyone who sells mix-and-match shelving parts, and Home Depot surely doesn't. A big box store will have the necessary materials and tools to craft something, but the fact that you're asking this question suggests you have virtually no tools or relevant experience so building something yourself is likely to involve a substantial learning curve and a lot of expense. Unless you are interested in woodworking as a new hobby, you should keep shopping for a mass-produced product or have something custom made.
posted by jon1270 at 12:01 PM on January 16, 2014


You could get the 17 x 20 shelves and rotate the unit so that the depth is width and width is depth, if that makes sense. -- these would then be wide enough for your receiver and deep enough for the turntable. You'd want 20 x 49" "side" units which would actually be the front and back of your rotated unit. If four feet is too tall, you could cut the side units down, but if you need to brace the system you can only cut down so much due to the dimensions of the cross brace, unless you work out your own bracing method.
posted by payoto at 12:14 PM on January 16, 2014

There are tons of websites where you can get free DIY construction plans.

Here is a basic plan for building a book shelf. It gives you a material list, a tool list, and step-by-step instructions. It should not be too difficult to follow these plans. And, it should not be too difficult to modify the cut lengths to create a shelf that is exactly the dimensions that you want.

And yes, Home Depot has everything you need to for a set a plans like this.
posted by Flood at 12:30 PM on January 16, 2014

So, I just kind of went through this.

For the turntable, I can't tell how tall your existing stack is, but I wound up using an IKEA Childrens table and chairs (the chairs would up being perfect little speaker stands). As a bonus, Target carries nice little foldable hardboard/fabric record boxes that fit perfectly underneath.

While finding that, I did come across a slightly-larger changing station that looks like you could add shelves within if you have the tools.

Generally though, yes, Home Depot has the parts, it's just a matter of what kind of work you can/wanna do. With a saw, you can go to their wood section and get some 18"x72" laminate pine and cut that up. You can make the parts for a box, then get a t-square and drill some holes for the shelf pins, then glue/screw it all together.
posted by rhizome at 12:41 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really like pocket hole construction for this kind of thing. You'll need a friend with a table saw or a circular saw if you don't have one, a cordless drill, and a pocket hole jig. The pocket hole jig is about $140 if you think you will be building more stuff, or you can buy the Kreg pocket hole junior for about $40.

I like Ana White's videos on making basic furniture using pocket jig construction. Here is her bookshelf -- I think you can simplify her plans, change the dimensions, and get what you want.
posted by Killick at 12:52 PM on January 16, 2014

What if you get a tall and narrow shelf and then cut it to the desired height?

If being closer to the wall is doable then you could use hanging shelves. I don't know if that is the right term, but two strips of metal with slots in them that are fastened to the wall. You then put brackets into the slots and the shelves rest across the brackets. There are many slots so you can adjust for shelf height. The shelves would be open on the sides.

If you aren't worried too much about build quality then it is pretty easy to intuitively whip up some shelving. Home Depot or the like can cut the wood to the size you want and then you can put it together with screws, small brackets or nails & glue. If you know someone with a router or dado set for their table saw then you can have slots put into the side pieces for the shelves to go into.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:52 PM on January 16, 2014

Short answer: yes it is possible. Very achievable, but may require more steps than you realize.

I think it is absolutely worthwhile to build your own shelves. It will be much more of a pain than you probably expect to build this first set, but shelving and storage are a perennial problem that you will encounter over and over through your life, and it's really really difficult to find decent shelves anymore, let alone ones that fit your needs exactly.

You will need to do three things:

1) Acquire wood, hardware, and tools;
2) Cut the wood into correctly-sized pieces;
3) Fasten the wood together such that the shelf is stable and attractive.

The details of all these steps depend on the quality of result you want. For example, most people would use plywood, but I like to use solid wood. If your shelves will include panels more than 12" wide that gets tricky (I have a biscuit joiner, which is a hand tool -- easy to store and incredibly easy but messy to use). You can design deep shelves that do not require panels 12" wide pretty easily, though.

Do you have or want a hand-held saber saw? Are you confident in your ability to measure and cut perfectly straight lines, to cut the multiple shelves to exactly the same width?

Would you be OK with having wood screws showing on the edges of the shelves? Wood screw construction is really easy. You can do it with just wood, screws, a saber saw, a drill, a good yardstick for measuring, a pencil, and the right size drill bit. For extra neatness, add a countersink drill bit (will let you hide the screw heads a little) and maybe some wood putty (will cover the screw heads). For extra durability, add some wood glue. For extra attractiveness, add sanding supplies, wood stain (water based will smell better) and maybe some kind of clear coating.

Good luck :) Be prepared to love your new shelf beyond all reason - look up the "IKEA effect" to understand why. It will make you happy whenever you look at it.
posted by amtho at 12:59 PM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

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