Monday, January 13, 2014

+3 Craftsmanship: The under-stairs shelf

This project was a not a necessity. I mean who, in this day and age, builds their own furniture (unless it is your profession or you are crazy about wood). That said if one cannot enjoy the smell of new freshly lacquered wooden furniture in their house then one is missing a whole sensual dimension when it comes to appreciating interior design. Yet the under-stairs shelving unit in question was built from your run-of-the-mill MDF wood available at your local B&Q.

The Finished Unit
Medium-Density Fibre Wood (MDF) is a type of processed wood that it very popular in Europe. In fact, most cheap IKEA furniture is made of MDF wood with a laminated finish layer to present said furniture in a better light.

Our living room had this indent wasted space under the stairs which I found to be a very irritating non-functional space. It was not small enough to be ignored or big enough to be functional. Additionally, nobody I could find sold under-stairs units. To be honest, each under stairs space is too different from each other to warrant anything but bespoke builds. The rampant nerdism in this house and lack of bookshelves made the design of the unit I was going to build quite straightforward. I needed a shelf for all the travel scrapbooks, novels, comic books,art books, Gundam, board games, figurines and Dumbledore’s wand.

Previously to this project, I had never done any wood working so when this opportunity showed itself I just had to know if I could do this. In hindsight, MDF wood was a good choice because of it was relatively cheap costs (not to mention disappointingly only available wood type at B&Q) and also I would not be wasting some nice wood if the project was a failure.

Since we were building this, we wanted it to feel like something we put together and yet went with the whole living room space, which currently is still a horrible and ghastly boring shade of beige (that is what you get when you are renting a property).

Lauren’s dimension doodle was failure, so I set out to draw the unit on AutoCAD mostly to bring a general idea on how much wood we would need. Additionally we got wood glue because we thought that the shelves within the unit would split if we tried to drive screws or nails through it. For our personal touch we decided to airbrush some pop-culture references very dear to our hearts onto the back board of the unit. To our dismay but not surprise, wood and bits and bobs still left us £65 poorer even though we had to build the backboard out of two MDF planks because they don’t come wide enough. What a rip-off.

After printing the stencils for the background of the unit, we set off to sawing and boy is it fun- messy and exhausting. Leaving the two backboards to dry we proceeded to cut out all the other shelving components. Using a pot of paint left in the garage by the previous owner we were saved the trouble of colour matching and painted the components of the furniture. On a side note, furniture building in pyjamas is the best. We were not surprised when the glue did not perform as well as we would have wanted it to because glue ladies and gentlemen, glue. Placing the semi held together backboards on the ground we proceeded to stencils and spray canning which neither of us nerds had any notion how to use (Sometimes one does wish that he had +1 in tagging so one could use a spray can in a minimally adequate fashion). After a messy first attempt at the FF7 meteor, we got better as we moved on to Navi and the Chocobo.

The Finished Backboard
We also settled on the idea that if screws don’t work then this project would probably be scrapped, but if screws did not split the wood it would only help the glue hold the unit even better. Since the shelf components would run across the width of both backboards, once they were screwed onto the back they would provide additional compressive forces preventing the components of the backboards from falling away from each other and holding the glue parts tighter together over a longer period to settle. 

The unit fit perfectly under the stairs with space for the vacuum cleaner behind it. The screw heads stick out a bit because we were lacking the appropriate chamfering drill head addition. We finally put the toolbox that Lauren’s granddad gifted us to good use and completed the unit to a level that, I would say matched our skills.

Would I do it all over again: hell yeah!!!

+3 to craftsmanship +1 to tagging + 10 fun

Cyber dog out