Man Cave Book Shelves

I have a lot of books that I enjoy reading, re-reading, and referencing time and again. The problem is, I have a lot of books and no adequate place to organize them well. So, I end up with lots of piles of books and double rows of books on each shelf of my cheap, freestanding bookshelves.

The shelves you buy in the store have a couple of problems:

  1. They’re made with cheap, low-quality materials that can’t properly support the weight of the books, and
  2. Their size is limited for safety reasons; not too tall, not too wide, etc.

I’ve often wanted to install built-in-place custom wall shelving to hold all the books but there are considerable financial limitations to that solution. It would be quite expensive to remove, modify or replace the carpeting to accommodate built-in-place shelves. There would also be sheetrock and cove molding work to be performed.

I could probably perform the sheetrock and cove molding work, but I’d have to contract the carpet work. Also, the amount of material necessary to properly complete the work would be up to $2,000, maybe more. That’s not an amount of money I am willing to drop into this project. I haven’t been able to convince myself to do it.

One day I was chatting with my son and, knowing I’m a bibliophile in search of a good book shelf, he sent me a link to an article about Neil Gaiman’s home library. It blew me away and I looked at the pictures with my mouth hanging open. The books were floor to ceiling on the shelves! The shelves looked great but they weren’t typical, something was different about them.

It was clear that Neil’s shelves were more about the books and less about the shelves. Often, built-in-place shelves are built to be showy and are rigid and inflexible in their size to accommodate different book sizes/types. For days I kept going back to the article to enviously scan through all the pictures. As I repeatedly viewed those pictures, I realized the shelves were constructed using shelf standards and brackets.

This fact had not been immediately evident when I first saw the photos. The shelves had been skillfully constructed to hide the shelf brackets. This was the solution I had been looking for! I didn’t want cheesy, cheap shelves on my wall and I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars to avoid that problem.

I researched shelving standards & brackets and decided on Knape and Vogt brand 180 series in silver with 10-inch deep brackets. Their are a lot of options with their shelving and their web site was very useful in helping me design my shelves to replicate Neil’s shelves. The best place I found to supply the shelving was Woodworker Express. They had all the parts including the special screws to mount the standards to the wall.

Since I’m an electrician by trade, I decided to 1-up Neil by putting LED lighting on my shelves. I went with the excellent Diode LED Fluid View 24VDC Tape Light in 2700K and used their innovative 100W in-wall switch/driver combo to power them. To distribute the power to each shelf I built a custom wiring harness with Diode LED’s 16 AWG 2-conductor cable and used barrel connectors with pigtails at each shelf to allow me to disconnect the shelves from the power harness in order to remove or relocate the shelf whenever I needed to do so.

To build the shelves I went with red oak veneer plywood and solid red oak (all from Home Depot) to trim the edge making the lip which hides the shelf brackets and gives me a place to mount the LED tape lighting. To stain the wood I chose General Finishes (Nutmeg) Gel Stain and for the topcoat I chose General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat (Satin). I applied one coat of stain and then put on three coats of the topcoat. The results were better than anything I’ve done previously and I’m very happy with it.

The project cost just over $700 to build including the lighting which is considerably less than my projected budget for the built-in-place shelves. Check out the build photos below for to see step-by-step construction of the shelves:

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Small Parts Cabinet [Completed]

I don’t like the finishing part (painting, etc.) of my projects. That’s why it took so long to complete this project. It was built, just not finished. I decided to finish it with “trunk paint” which has a similar consistency to the spray-in bead liner material they use on pickup truck beds.

I finally found the motivation to complete this project because there were so many small parts and tools starting a accumulate in my Man Cave. It’s the whole reason for building these drawers and it started to drive me bonkers. I’m happy with the results of this build and I’m happy to start organizing my stuff. Now I need drawer organizers…

Small Parts Cabinet (based on Airline Beverage Cart)

Here are links to a few files that may be interesting:

Goat Ranch Cabin 2-Door (short) Wall Cabinet

Goat Ranch 2-Door (short) Wall Cabinet

Goat Ranch 2-Door (short) Wall Cabinet

Finished the 2-door wall cabinet and the 2-door wall cabinet (short) before I went on vacation. This short cabinet is for above the stove. Since all the wall cabinets are complete I started making sample finish pieces for Wendy to choose a finish she likes.

She has decided on the clear finish that shows the wood. The wood has a blonde color after three coats of top-coat. I’m happy with it, too. I’ll go ahead and start putting coats of sealer and top-coats on the cabinets while I start the lower cabinets. I have to complete my build drawings first…shouldn’t take long.

Goat Ranch Cabin 2-Door Wall Cabinet

Goat Ranch 2-Door Wall Cabinet

Goat Ranch 2-Door Wall Cabinet

Now that I’m getting closer to completing the construction of the 1-door wall cabinet I need to start my 2-door wall cabinet. The bugs should be worked out of my building methods and it should only be a question of doubling the smaller build.

When I made mistakes on the smaller cabinet I was able to develop techniques to avoid them thereafter. Some minor changes to the doors needed to be performed in Sketchup and I’m processing those 3D models into build drawings now. If the rain holds off this week I’ll be able to get the additional materials I need before the weekend to start this part of the build.

After this one, I’ll move on to the cabinet bases. They are big and a little cumbersome. At some point I’ll also have to plan on painting all these cabinets. That will be the first time I use my HVLP sprayer…guess I need to read up on that, too.

Goat Ranch Cabin 1-door Wall Cabinet

Goat Ranch 1-Door Wall Cabinet

I clumsily started building the wall cabinets for the Goat Ranch Cabin. The cabinet I chose to begin with is the smallest of all the cabinets I’m building. There are two reasons I chose this one: 1) I can relatively quickly build it and find any design issues, and 2) I can practice the setup and cuts on a small scale before I get to the larger stuff.

By “clumsily started” I mean I’ve found a problem with one of the methods I was using to suspend the shelves. I’ve used the technique before but, for some unknown reason, it’s not working for me on this project. The result was that I damaged one of the cabinet sides to the point that it will have to be re-cut. There were several mistakes in that side piece which made me decide to re-cut it. It was just too much of a mess.

The design is solid, though; no changes will be needed there. Aesthetically speaking, I think that I’ll add some edge banding on the “face edges” of the cabinet to hide the plywood ends. At first, since this is for the cabin, I wasn’t worried about that. But, it’s just one of those things that, I think, will bug me for years to come if I don’t do it. It’ll look more professional with the edge banding.

P.S. — I just call it the Goat Ranch because the previous owner had planned to raise goats there. We don’t have any goats.

Cabin Kitchenette Design

Goat Ranch Cabin with Kitchenette Cabinets and Appliances

Goat Ranch Cabin with Kitchenette Cabinets and Appliances

I’ve neglected building out the interior of the cabin for many years. It’s rustic…very rough. It has air conditioning and, obviously, electricity but no plumbing or any special accommodations. I’ve done maintenance on it and worked on it a little bit but my focus has been on large projects here at home.

The large projects at home are pretty much wrapped up so, for Christmas last year, Wendy asked to have the cabin buildout completed. Slowly I’m creaking into motion on that project. I’m getting some traction on it mainly in planning and design.

Yesterday I took an opportunity to go to the cabin and I modeled the whole thing in Sketchup. All the framing and decking and structure of the cabin is now a 3D model I can work on in Sketchup. I can make all the measurements I need for design and fit them with appliances in the 3D space.

There is a bedroom (a have the walls framed already), a loft (where kids sleep), and soon a bathroom (shower only…outhouse is down the trail), and a kitchenette (shown in the image above). It will be designed on Tiny House design principles and it’s our goal to keep it simple and low-maintenance. It’s our place to get away, let the kids roam and play in the woods and not worry about constant housekeeping.

With the cabinets designed (the brown objects in the image above) it looks like I need to get moving on the other things holding up their installation…like the wood flooring. It’ll be really nice to have a place to go and stay for extended periods; almost camping, but not quite.

8-Drawer Small Parts Cabinet

8-Drawer Small Parts Cabinet (extended)

8-Drawer Small Parts Cabinet

I came across an article about using an airline beverage cart for a storage solution for hot glue and paint. After hunting online for quite a while, I became frustrated by the condition of the used carts and the price of the new carts. So, as usual, I decided I could do a better job at getting what I want at the level of quality I want and maybe save some money in the process.

The downside to buying used equipment online is that, when you need another piece, you may not be able to match what you already have. By building your own equipment you can customize it to your needs and build as many items as you need with consistent quality.

A quick search online gave me the dimensions of the cart and drawers. Using that information I went to Sketchup and began to design the small parts drawers (shown in image above) for all my gun parts and gunsmith tools. In the design I used stainless steel, spring loaded latches and UHMW plastic rails for the drawer slides. I have all the baltic birch plywood in my workshop and the hardware & rails are ordered from McMaster-Carr.

Once the design was complete in Sketchup I exported it to Layout (included with Sketchup Pro) to make the build drawings. The cabinet will work well on a stationary base as well as it would on casters. Below are some download links for the model and drawings on this project.

#10 Can (1-Gal.) Storage

#10 (1-gallon) Can F.I.F.O. Storage Unit

#10 (1-gallon) Can F.I.F.O. Storage Unit

Recently I began purchasing freeze-dried disaster/emergency preparedness food. After experiencing the disruption caused by large storms—hurricanes and tornadoes—in the Texas Gulf Coast area, we decided it’s best to be as self-sufficient as possible in the aftermath of these events. It didn’t take long to realize we needed a way to store the #10 (1-gallon) cans so we could rotate the stock and easily transport the food when necessary, i.e., when it’s necessary to evacuate / relocate.

We’re a large family and—depending on the time of year—there can be as many as six of us to feed; one, 1-gallon can will feed the whole group for each meal. But all storage solutions I found on the Internet were geared toward small food cans. There were some commercial First-In-First-Out (F.I.F.O) units I liked but they were expensive, not modular or easily portable. So, I took the ideas I liked and headed to my trusty Sketchup 3D app and started designing my own based on the dimensions of the #10 cans.

My approach to building these units will be a little different: I’m going to make a full-sized, 1:1 scale template and work off of it to cut & rout the sides. I don’t intend to produce build drawings other than the 1:1 scale template. This is my budget solution for a CNC since I haven’t assembled my CNC…yet. The unit is 18″ tall x 22″ deep and holds six cans.

 

The Traitor Within from “Wild at Heart”

While reading—and deeply enjoying—the book Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men: An Utterly Invigorating Guide to Being Your Most Masculine Self by Stephen Mansfield, the author mentioned another book: Wild at Heart (Revised and Updated: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul) by John Eldredge. I bought Wild at Heart and, after skimming through it, began to read it as well. It’s rare for me to be reading two books I enjoy so much at the same time. They compliment each other well and have a message that I think has been missing in the Church: men are supposed to be manly. What, to me, makes the message work is that it’s in the context of scripture. This book will be one I go back to reference often. Below is a short clipping from the book:

To put it bluntly, your flesh is a weasel, a poser, and a selfish pig. And your flesh is not you. Did you know that? Your flesh is not the real you. When Paul gives us his famous passage on what it’s like to struggle with sin (Rom. 7), he tells a story we are all too familiar with:

I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (The Message)

Okay, we’ve all been there many times. But what Paul concludes is just astounding: “I am not really the one doing it; the sin within me is doing it” (Rom. 7:20 NLT). Did you notice the distinction he makes? Paul says, “Hey, I know I struggle with sin. But I also know that my sin is not me—this is not my true heart.” You are not your sin; sin is no longer the truest thing about the man who has come into union with Jesus. Your heart is good. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you . . .” (Ezek. 36:26). The Big Lie in the church today is that you are nothing more than “a sinner saved by grace.” You are a lot more than that. You are a new creation in Christ. The New Testament calls you a saint, a holy one, a son of God. In the core of your being you are a good man. Yes, there is a war within us, but it is a civil war. The battle is not between us and God; no, there is a traitor within who wars against our true heart fighting alongside the Spirit of God in us:

A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death . . . Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells . . . if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus . . . When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. (Rom. 8:2–3, 9–11 The Message)

The real you is on the side of God against the false self. Knowing this makes all the difference in the world. The man who wants to live valiantly will lose heart quickly if he believes that his heart is nothing but sin. Why fight? The battle feels lost before it even begins. No, your flesh is your false self—the poser, manifest in cowardice and self-preservation—and the only way to deal with it is to crucify it. Now follow me very closely here: We are never, ever told to crucify our heart. We are never told to kill the true man within us, never told to get rid of those deep desires for battle and adventure and beauty. We are told to shoot the traitor. How? Choose against him every time you see him raise his ugly head. Walk right into those situations you normally run from. Speak right to the issues you normally remain silent over. If you want to grow in true masculine strength, then you must stop sabotaging yours.

Buy the book. Read it. You won’t regret it.

Book Stand (Plate 18) Revision 1 Drawings

Book Stand - Plate 18

Plate 18 – Book Stand (revision 1)

Books are piling up everywhere in our house, particularly on our center table in the living room. There have been some subtle hints that it’s getting pretty difficult to dust that particular table. Taking the hint, I decided we need more book shelves in the house and I located a design that was close to what I need.

I had already modeled the project as it’s shown in the book Advanced Projects in Woodwork ©1920 so all the work was in modifying that original model. This wasn’t all that difficult thanks to Sketchup.

In order to allow for my 12-inch tall books to fit onto the shelves of the book stand, I had to move the lower shelf down and the upper shelf up to get adequate space. Once the modifications were completed I created scenes (views) in Sketchup, and exported that to Layout (included with Sketchup) to make my build drawings.

On the righthand side of this post you can see an image to the completed design in isometric view. If you’re interested in build drawings, they can be downloaded here: plate 18 – book stand (revision 1).

 

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