Workbench Weekly eTip

Archive for December, 2007

Bifold Doors Make Sturdy Shelving

Friday, December 28th, 2007

During a recent remodeling project, I removed some old bi-fold closet doors. Rather than throw them out, I decided to use them as utility shelves. These bi-fold doors are incredibly lightweight and, unlike some other types of shelving, they’re not as likely to sag when loaded down.

This is because a bi-fold door is actually a torsion box (Illustration, below left). It gets its strength from a thin plywood “skin” that’s glued to an inner web
of cardboard.

The strength of a torsion box relies on the glue bond between the web and the skin, so cutting into the skin will weaken the shelf. If you need to cut the shelf to fit a particular space, make a wood filler strip to fit into the open end, and then glue it in place (Filler Strip Detail).

Once that’s done, mount brackets to the wall studs to support the shelf. Even though the shelf is sturdy, don’t space the brackets more than 32″ apart. Also, to ensure the shelf is attached securely to the brackets, drive screws into the solid-wood pieces around the edges and ends of the door.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

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Roll out the Storage with a Stairwell Stowaway

Friday, December 21st, 2007

If you have an open basement stairwell, the space above the stairs is ideal to use for a cabinet that stores seasonal items.

The cabinet is supported by two wood rails attached to the walls (Illustration, below). Casters on the bottom of the
cabinet let you roll it forward for access, and then back out of the way.

Each rail consists of three glued-up pieces: a narrow center piece sandwiched between two wider sides (Rail Cross Section). This arrangement forms a track for the casters. Note that the center piece must be thick enough to allow the casters to roll without binding against the sides of the rail. For my casters, 1″-thick stock provided adequate clearance.

When mounting the rails, be sure to avoid interfering with the handrail (Mounting Detail). Also, leave at least seven feet of clearance to avoid bumping the cabinet as you walk down the stairs.

After screwing the rails to the wall studs, build (or buy) a cabinet to fit the space. Tack wood stops onto the open ends of the rails to keep the cabinet from rolling off. Then add a pull-cord between the cabinet and stops.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (12 votes, average: 4.42 out of 5)
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Simple Hand Saw Blade Guard

Friday, December 14th, 2007

To protect the blade of my hand saw from damage, I cover the teeth with a length of 1/4″-dia. flexible plastic tubing (Photo). (This tubing is available at most hardware and auto parts stores.)

You’ll need to cut the tubing lengthwise to fit onto the blade. To do that, slightly compress the tubing in a vise, and slit it with a utility knife (Inset Photo).

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Fishing for a Better Chalk Line

Friday, December 7th, 2007

A chalk box is indispensable for marking long, straight lines. But what a mess! The chalk dust ends up everywhere. And all too often, you end up with a smudged line that makes it difficult to get accurate cuts.

To eliminate the problem, I replaced the cotton string in my chalk box with braided polyester fishing line. I know, this sounds a bit “fishy,”" but the chalk doesn’t build up on this line like it does on cotton string. Even though it doesn’t hold as much chalk, it still snaps a crisp, clear line that makes it easy to make accurate layouts (Photo, below).

Just a note here. If the line doesn’t hold enough chalk, rough it up with sandpaper.

Another advantage of this braided line is it doesn’t stretch like cotton string, so you can pull it tighter. The result is a more defined chalk mark, even when snapping an extremely long line.

Editor’s Note: We bought 50 yds. of 36-lb. test braided catfish line for $3.50 at a local sporting goods store.

Replacing the cotton string in a chalk box with braided polyester fishing line produces a crisp, clear line. This chalk-box upgrade makes cutting to a line easier and more accurate.

Have a nice weekend,

Wyatt Myers
Online Editor
Workbench Magazine

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (13 votes, average: 4.85 out of 5)
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