Saturday, August 6, 2016

A 'Work-In-Progress' Shelf For The Workshop

Something I used to have in my workshop is a 'work-in-progress' (WIP) shelf. It was a 36" x 16" x 38" tall steel shelving unit, on which I'd keep the loose bits and pieces of items I was working on, so they wouldn't get misplaced and mislaid and lost.

The shelf got evicted when I had to make space for a bandsaw and an arc welder. It went to a storage room where it was no longer convenient to me, and I fell out of the habit of using it as I had.

I find now that I miss the old WIP shelf terribly, and I'd like to have one in the workshop again. The difficulty is that, on the face of things at least, there's no place left in my workshop to put one. I have 300 square feet, with no unoccupied wall space left.

Then the thought occurred to me that if I were to mount a shelving unit on a wheeled dolly, I could keep it in a seldom used spot by my paint bench, and just roll it aside when I needed to -- I'd have a WIP shelf again.

I have the makings of a rudimentary dolly, and Canadian Tire has a low-end resin shelving unit for $29.99. So I went to Canadian Tire this morning and picked one up. Here it is still in its factory banding.

Assembled, it's about 32" x 14" x 72" tall. For capacity, it should more than make up for the loss of my old WIP shelf.

I'll get going on the dolly, and maybe I'll have a WIP shelf again before the day is over. (Or not; no one's ever accused me of being speedy.)

The Dolly's Underside

I've got the dolly's base cut to size from an old hardwood plank I had on hand, and I've added cross-pieces at the ends to attach the casters to, like so.

(Those casters aren't fastened yet. I just placed them to show how it will look when done.)

Those cross-pieces are two inches longer than the base plank is wide, so the casters will be slightly out-rigged for the sake of stability.

Now I have to add similar cross-pieces on top, but with holes/sockets in them to accept the 'feet' of the bottom shelf, so the shelf can't possibly slide off the dolly.

The Dolly's Topside

And here we are with the topside's cross-pieces installed.

Those 'sockets' are 1 5/8" diameter holes bored clear through the cross-pieces with a Forstner bit. They're 1/8" oversize in diameter for what is nominally called for -- that gave me some wiggle room to compensate for the difficulty of laying out such an arrangement, and locating exact hole centres. It's turned out fine. Here's a view of the thing with a shelf parked on it.

That's pretty much exactly what I was after -- a way to positively secure the shelf from sliding off the dolly.

Now I just have to fasten the casters, and the dolly is done. I can assemble the shelving unit, mount it on the dolly and see how it all looks.

The Dolly Completed

There it is, all ready for an assembled shelving unit.

And here's the dolly with its shelving unit parked in its spot.

I think I'll have to forego the topmost shelf. The thing is a bit tall for my workshop, what with all the stuff I have suspended from joists.

That aside, I think this is going to work out ok.

The Topmost Shelf Removed

Here's the shelving unit without its topmost shelf.

That's much less awkward; I can live with that. The loss of capacity is no big deal.


Empty, the shelving unit is quite light and easily tipped off the dolly. The dolly is fairly heavy. I think I'm going to have to fasten the bottom shelf to the dolly somehow. Then I'll have a relatively heavy-based assembly that will be much less prone to tip.

Securing The Bottom Shelf To The Dolly

I happen to have four of these little offset straps.

They may be just what I need here. Their holes will accept No. 6 screws. I'll be back shortly after I've installed these in the manner I have in mind.

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And here we are.

There's one of those little straps at each corner of the bottom shelf; end of tippyness. My WIP shelf is ready to accept whatever I need it to.

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Addendum -- SATURDAY, AUGUST 20, 2016

Here's a quick and dirty way to add an extra shelf to the unit.

That's a salvaged piece of slightly warped 15mm plywood, supported by corner braces and hose clamps that I've added to the tubular uprights. Here are two views of the details.

So the plywood plus four 1" corner braces, plus four 1 1/2" capacity hose clamps, plus four No. 8 x 1/2" flat head wood screws are all that's needed to obtain a securely fastened auxiliary shelf.

I've had the use of my new WIP shelf for two weeks now, and it's been a real boon to the workshop. It really helps me keep projects ticking along in an orderly fashion.

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