Friday, January 2, 2009

It's CAN-tilever, not CAN'T-ilever

I built some cool shelves this week. Thanks to Mathhias Wandel at Woodgears for the design and inspiration.

I like the design because it makes use of a cantilever bracket that seems to give the shelves an air of lightness while belying their real strength. The shelves ( made from 3/4" plywood) are attached to the supporting wood. Attaching them in this way stiffens the shelves and distributes the weight of the load across the brackets more efficiently than if the plywood was simply laid across the brackets.

I suspended the shelves from the floor joists using simple carriage bolts. The whole thing is hanging from the joists. If we wanted to, we could easily swing the unit up out of the way for... I have no idea why.

The shelves are remarkably strong. I (183 lbs) can hang from them with no sagging. Of the shelves. I still sag.


Unknown said...

I think your cantilevered shelves are excellent. I like strong shelves that are simple and effective.

Why did you chose not to notch your shelves so they would fit around the 2x4s and rest flush with the back wall? This would keep things from falling off the back.

Do you see any problem with notching the shelves?

Do you have any other thoughts or suggestions for me before I build shelves like these?

Thank you very much.


John I said...

I left the notches out because it was simpler to construct that way. I was able to cut the material from a sheet of plywood with just two cuts.

I don't see any issue with notching. Notch away!


Bryan said...

Why doesn't the wood of the cantilever split, with six nails (three each side) all in a row?

John I said...

(I pre-drilled pilot holes and was careful when I tightend them)


Unknown said...

How deep are your shelves? Mathhias Wandel said he made his 14 inches deep.

Could this design be expanded to make shelves 18 inches deep?

John I said...

The shelves were cut from a single piece of 4 x 8 plywood, so they are roughly 16 inches wide. With the 3.75 inch overhang the gap between the back edge of the the shelves and the wall affords, you have approximately 20 inches of potential storage space. It will work as long as whatever you put on the shelf can stay in place over the gap.

Unknown said...

Would it be possible to modify the design to use the studs in the wall as support instead of the wood down the back?

John I said...

Of course!

Steve said...

Great design. I was planning on 24inch shelves, so other than increasing the length of the support to match the outside edge of the actual shelves, is there anything else I need to adjust to give equal support?

johnB said...

has anyone built these with a clothes rod hangng below the outermost 1x4 plank? Seems like they should be strong enough. I am trying to add a virtual closet in my basement where we can hang some clothes and have an upper shelf. Any suggestions?

John I said...

I don't see why not. The shelves are very strong.

PaulM said...

Do I need to change the dimensions of the supports if I want to use 24" shelves.If yes then what should they be?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hi John,

Nice garage shelves. I'd like to use this for my own garage, and hope you could offer a newbie some tips.

I'd like to have three sets of shelves: bottom, at hip level is 30 inches wide, enough to place folded lawn mowers, small engines and other weightier items. Middle shelf, just below shoulder level, about 20 inches wide for whatever, and top shelf, at about eye level, about 18 inches wide for lighter items that I can pickup at arms length. The whole shelving unit would be approximately 18 feet long, or so.

Questions: will this design handle the weight of many small engines, lawn mowers, ect. at 30 inches over 18 feet for so?

If so, how many vertical studs over the 18 feet do you recommend? One stud every 24 inches? More? Less?

Thank you for your thoughts.

dannysauer said...

30 inches is pushing it. A couple years ago, I made some at 24" deep, altering the bracket design so the center board is only 1" rather than 1.25", and tapering the angle over the whole length of the bracket, resulting in more compact brackets. I glued (with titebond 2 or 3, I don't remember which) the bracket along its whole length, glued both sides to the stud, put in three screws over the length of the bracket, and three diagonal screws through the bracket into the 3.5" deep 2x4. I also put a pocket-hole in the center brace, and glued + single-screwed that firmly against the face of the stud. Using 16" centers and 3/4" OSB subfloor panels (also glued and screwed into the bracket), 240 lb me can bounce on them a little bit while a 100lb kid also stands on them. There's minimal deflection with just my weight on them, either on the bracket or centered between.

I'm building another set using this design all the way around a storage room in my basement; I'm very happy with them.