Basement Shelves

With work closed from December 23 to January 3, we found ourselves with plenty of time to get some things done around the house. There is plenty of work to be done on the shed but I wanted to plan an inside project in case the weather didn’t cooperate. With some extra money from a credit card rewards check, we decided to move forward with some shelving for the basement. We haven’t unpacked a lot of things because we still have work to do in almost every room of the house. With all of the tools I’ve been finding on craigslist and the assorted piles of lumber and other materials for the house, it was getting hard to move around down there, let alone find anything. I drew up some quick plans for two sets of shelves in SketchUp and ordered the lumber. The plans were for one 16-foot wide set of four shelves for large items along the front wall of the house and a smaller four-foot wide set of six shelves near the basement stairs for pantry-like storage since we don’t have a pantry upstairs.

After a wonderful long weekend spent celebrating the holiday with both of our families, we drove home from my parents house in a raging blizzard. This was perfect, I thought. I’ll be able to focus on the inside project while the weather is bad. When we woke Monday morning, the unusual silence told us that there would be no work done with power tools. The electric company estimated that power would be back by 11:30 PM. Then they called back and revised their estimate to 11:30 AM. Later in the morning, the called again, saying that the power would be back by 4:30 Tuesday afternoon. Undeterred, Tina and I headed to the basement with our headlamps to move the boxes and furniture out of the way.

Power was restored by 2:30 in the afternoon and I was able to get started cutting the lumber. The first and most time-consuming step was routing dadoes into the vertical posts to provide additional support for the horizontal rails. For the large set of shelves, this required removing over 296 cubic inches of material. I really need to invest in a dado stack and tasks like this make me thing that a radial arm saw would be a more useful cross-cutting tool than a chop saw (one of which will probably be my next tool purchase). I could have been done in a quarter of the time. Once I finished the routing, I started cutting the horizontal support pieces. Again, this was more time consuming because I was using a circular saw, which required more measuring between cuts. Just about when I had all the pieces cut, Pops arrived to help out. We were able to quickly assemble the shelves thanks to the labor saving framing nailer. I’m sure glad I found that and the compressor at a yard sale!

Once the big shelves were finished, Pops helped me cut the lumber for the smaller shelves. He headed home for a New Years party but I was able to quickly assemble the small shelves.

Here is the space before the big shelves were installed:

And here are the big shelves:

You can also see the smaller shelves to the right:

The big shelves were assembled by building the ladders first, then nailing in the horizontal beam. The plywood was tacked on top and finally, the trim piece was added to stiffen the whole unit:

Here is a better view of the smaller shelves:

These were constructed by building the shelf frame first, then adding the plywood and sliding the whole unit into the dadoes on the vertical supports. This was quicker and easier but I was only able to do it this way because I had full access to both sides of the unit for nailing:

In the end, we added 172 square feet of shelving to the basement.  Hopefully this helps us get more organized.  We’ve already begun filling up the pantry shelves.  We’ve committed to going through all of the boxes and purging some unneeded items before they are put on the big shelves.  We’re saving that project for another snowy day.  The total cost for this project was about $225.  That money wouldn’t have bought anything nearly as big or sturdy, and it only took about 16 hours to get it done.  I wonder how long before the shelves are full?

One Response to “Basement Shelves”

  1. Neeko says:

    “and finally, the trim piece was added to stiffen the whole unit:”

    Ahem, that’s what she said! BAZINGA!

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