Novelty Shelving Unit

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The novelty of this shelving unit is that it was made without using any screws or glue. When it’s pushed, it wavers, but items do not fall off unless they were already unsteady. The video above shows me pushing the unit with glass milk bottles on the top shelf. The bottles did not fall off.

This shelving unit happened incidentally. My original intention was to make a dividing screen for the living area in my apartment. I was passing a billboard while riding a bus during the Fall and it gave me the idea to use a spiral shape for the feet. I don’t remember what I saw on the billboard, but I remember thinking, “Hey! Spirals can wobble without falling. That should work.”

Later, I modeled spiral feet to fit 1/4″ dowels and connectors to link sets together. I tested the feet, dowels, and connectors setup by placing different weights of fabric on top. I found that the setup was only stable with chiffon weight fabrics. Chiffon was too sheer for my purposes and I abandoned the idea of making a divider with the setup.3D printed Quarter Inch Dowel Caps

Bin project

Bin project

I needed a bin to store leftover wood pieces and thought the spiral feet, dowels, and connectors may work. I purchased a wood plaque from Micheal’s and drilled holes at the corners. Something was required to hold connectors at different heights. I felt I could not depend on small screws to bind connectors to the 1/4″ dowels and came up with the idea of tubes. I put a bin together with the tubes and it held just long enough to post a photograph on Instagram. Another failure. By the way, the wood plaque found a home as a small table, along with maple dowels, for holding my humidifier.

The leaning of the dowels in the bin project reminded me of the cabinet project. I used the same dowel size in that project and the cabinet swayed to one side. The shelf provided stability for the portion it connected and I realized cross sections were needed every 8 or 9 inches to prevent swaying. I was able to salvage a shorter cabinet from the taller cabinet and it has supported my printer/copier for months. I decided to apply this lesson to the feet, dowels, and connectors setup. The tubes were doing a good job of keeping the connectors in position. I figured they would do the same with wood shelves and they did.

Wood plaque table

Wood Plaque Table

One thing I realized was that the 3D printed tubes could be substituted with vinyl tubing or any sturdy material having an inner diameter of 1/4″. The green shelving unit was made with vinyl tubes. The tubes were difficult to put on until I was 90% finished and discovered I could warm the plastic a little with my hands. When warmed, the tube was easier to stretch and straighten.

I adore my shelving units! I use them to hold electronics, plastic bins, and knick knacks. Files for the 3D parts are available for free on Thingiverse. An Instructable shows how to make one.

Material Choices – Cabinet Comparison

It occurred to me that it would be a good idea to keep track of costs while planning future furniture pieces. After I calculated the cost of materials for making an end table, I realized it would be quite expensive to make and I re-visited my floor plan to be sure I had enough space. I saw that I did not and cancelled production. After having that experience, I decided to calculate costs of printing another cabinet.

61B+24TxeaL._AC_SL1200_My design will produce a cabinet measuring about 19″ in width, 11″ in depth, and 27 1/4″ in height. Two design variations include 2″ adjustable feet, available on Amazon at $14.99 for a pack of 4. I usually buy wood boards and plywood from Home Depot; therefore all wood prices are Home Depot online prices. I am concerned about out-gassing; thus, I use PLA filament. Prices for filament amounts are based upon PLA/PHA filament at $39.99 per 750 grams. The costs below are for making 1 cabinet. The purpose of the second cabinet is to show the interior.

All 3D Printed

3D printed cabinet

Filament: 6110 grams; 9 spools – $360

Wood Dowels: 3/8 inch oak; 36″ length-
70 – $95

Total: $455

(All amounts are approximate)

3D Print & Wood

Maple plywood cabinet with 3d printed parts Filament: 1552 grams; 3 spools – $120
Wood Dowels: 3/8 inch oak; 36″ length; 20 – $27
PureBond Plywood:
Maple Plywood Project Panel; 2 – 3/4″ x 2′ x 4′ – $32
Walnut Plywood Project Panel; 2 – 1/4″ x 2′ x 4′ – $43

Adjustable feet: $15
Wood Screws: Stainless Steel Flathead: $9

Total: $246

(Delivery and handling of wood not included)

(All amounts are approximate)

All Wood

Wood cabinet Filament: 84 grams; 1 spool – $40

PureBond Plywood:
Hickory Plywood Project Panel; 1 – 3/4″ x 2′ x 4′ – $33
Hickory Plywood Project Panel; 1 – 1/4″ x 2′ x 4′ – $23
Poplar Plywood Project Panel; 2 – 3/4″ x 2′ x 4′ – $48
Poplar Plywood Project Panel; 1 – 1/2″ x 2′ x 4′ – $23
Hinges: Soft close – $47

Adjustable feet: $15
Wood Screws: Stainless Steel Flathead – $9
Real Wood Veneer Edgebanding: $10

Total: $208

(Delivery and handling of wood not included)

(All amounts are approximate)

I ordered Purebond from Home Depot in 2018, to make a printer enclosure. I paid $35 in 2018 to have five 1/2″ x 24″ x 24″ sheets of plywood delivered. I followed instructions for requesting a free single cut, but the wood was not cut as requested. I used the tools I had to cut the wood to the best of my ability. The process for requesting cuts may have improved, well, that is my hope.

In addition to the delivery fee, I would need to lease a car to bring the wood back and forth from a wood shop, if it has not been cut according to my instructions, adding approximately $100 to my costs. My total costs for making the wood versions would be $381 and $343. Wood it is! I really was not looking forward to struggling with the details of the accordion doors on the All Pla cabinet. I’ll leave that until next year and another project. Now, I just need to figure out if walnut or hickory fits my design scheme.