Organization Tips and Tricks – Easy Ladder Shelf

You may have seen these shelves in all the stores and thought that making them is difficult, but when you break the shelf unit down to its basic components they really are easy and cheap to put together.

Shelf-all-ready-for-use

Using a mixture of plywood, the cheaper 1x3x6 whitewood and 1x3x6 “choice” pine means that this whole shelf come to about $50 (without paint or screws).

I knew that I wanted to put all my printers and paper cutters onto one unit. Using vertical space instead of having them on a desk and on the floor just made more sense, that’s where these ladder shelves are great.

I measured the equipment I wanted to store and built my shelf unit around those sizes, but it’s really easy to make this to any size. The angle you cut the front supports leads to how far from the back supports they will be (and hence the depth of the shelves).

I used a 15 degree angle, and it gave me a span of ~23 inches at the bottom. An angle of 10 inches pushes the shelves closer together for a small depth.

I then measured the usable height of all my appliances. Taking into account the paper feeders and lift off tops. (I didn’t however think about the cutting mat going back and forth through the cutting machine – DOH!).

Using a compound miter saw, (make sure you take all safety precautions) cut the two front supports out of the choice pine, at your chosen angle.

Front-support-and-rear-supp

Clamp the two planks together and hold 90 degree perpendicular to the fence and cut the same angle at the top end.

top-of-front-and-rear-suppo

Set up each side of the shelf unit on the floor and make sure everything is square, a plank of wood acting like a floor and a set square will help then mark where the two supports will meet, you’ll use these marks later when we bring them together.

Using a “Kreg jig”, clamp, drill and screw the front supports to the back supports (also choice pine) together at the top. Kreg make these little plugs that fill the holes, then fill with wood filler and sand the holes, ready for painting.

Clamp-and-drill-togetherKreg-also-make-these-little

Measuring across the span at the bottom of the “A” shape now gives you the depth of the bottom shelf. I put mine about 3 inches up from the floor.

Measure-across-the-frame

I marked and measured all the way up the legs taking all my appliance measurements in to account, in this case I got 4 good sized shelves. You now have the measurements for the depths of your shelves. The width of the shelves is entirely up to you. I was using a 2ft x 2 ft plywood sheet so went with a width that would suit them without large amounts of cutting.

Cut the white wood and plywood to the chosen size of shelf. I rounded off the edges using a paint lid and jigsaw, but this was purely for athletics and not needed.

Shelf-close-up

I pinned the sides of the shelf to the sides of the plywood, you could also pin or screw from the bottom up through the shelf.

I cheated a little bit with the front of the plywood. A good filler and sanding will make this smooth, but after some previous thin strips from ripping wood, which I then could use as a facing strip, glued on to the fronts.

Shelves-ready-for-filling-a

Fill and sand all the pin holes. I prefer to prime before assembly, but that choice is yours.

Assembly is easy from now on. Clamp and screw the shelves at your chosen locations. I screwed from the inside to the outside, so as not to have screws poking out the sides.

Now finish painting and you’re done. Leave time to dry fully before using. This took me a little over 4 hours over a couple of days (paint and filler dry time) and now i have all my printers in one place, and room for a slimline new paper cutter on the top shelf… this DIY can get expensive 🙂

Shelf-all-ready-for-use

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