The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Laundry Basket Shelves

My son and his wife asked me to design and build a laundry shelf. The specs were:

1. Capacity for 8 baskets

2. Another height spacing between shelves to add some laundry, or retrieve it

I did the initial concept design, and found 8 baskets would not fit height wise, got the ok to reduce it to 6 basket capacity.  He bought new baskets and gave me 1 to use for my shelf design work.

Mock Shelf

Because the requirements were unclear with respect to the height space between baskets, plus how far for them to stick out............I decided to build a mock-up and take it to his house. It is relatively easy and quick to build any mock-up using low cost 1x4" pine, plus Kreg pocket screws.

Mock shelf trial

I took the mock shelf to my son's house.  This led to several design changes. I updated the Sketchup drawing to reflect all the desired changes.

Re-Purposing old oak tv cabinet

Circa 2004, my son built a large TV cabinet for his bedroom using oak wood, in his high school shop class.  He no longer needs the unit, so I took it apart to use the oak plywood on the laundry shelves.  He glued the 3/4" plywood into the routed grooves in the sides, and these joints were not coming I sawed up the unit using the circular saw.  Plain 3/4" plywood is now $53 per sheet, so this avoided buying 1 new sheet of plywood.  I did have to buy 1 new sheet to do the whole project.

Sawing large pieces

The max width I can saw on my table saw using the fence is 19.5 inches. I needed to saw plywood pieces between this and about 22 inches wide.  I could saw the pieces with the circular saw, but the joints would not be perfect then.  I decided to temporarily clamp a piece of 2x4 onto my table saw, then screw a wood fence to make the larger cuts.  This worked great!

I decided to use 3/16 Luan plywood for the back piece.  This necessitates having a 3/16" deep groove, about 1/2" wide in the back of the plywood sides and top.

I could cut the groove on the router table, but the sides pieces are very heavy.......hard to hold........and would push over the router table.  I could clamp a temporary guide board onto the 2 long sides, and hand hold the router to cut the grooves.

I decided to use the table saw to cut the grooves.  I used my special 2 piece clamps to hold a sacrificial board against the fence. This worked very well.


From past experience, plus building the mock up, it is much easier to assemble the shelves with the cabinet in the upside down position.  I made an assembly drawing in Sketchup with the cabinet frame upside down, and with the dimensions from the bottom to place the temporary guide boards to hold the shelves in the right position.

To get started on assembly, I decided it would be easiest to lay the cabinet down, so the 2 long sides were laying on the floor.  I then clamped and screwed the top piece to the 2 sides, and used a shelf as a spacer on the other end. This worked well.  I then set the cabinet in the upside down position on the floor to assemble the rest of the shelves.

I decided it would be easier to paint the cabinet with the back Luan piece not installed.  I laid the cabinet on my workbench, with the side that will go against the wall laying down on the saw horses..........because it does not need painted.

Moving finished cabinet from basement shop to pick-up truck

The finished cabinet was heavy.  It probably had roughly speaking the equivalent weight of 2 sheets of 3/4" plywood!!  I was able to pull it up the stairs, and then get it loaded into my pick-up by myself.  When I got to my son's house, he helped me take it up his 2 flights of stairs to his upstairs laundry room. I used the vibrating tool to remove the baseboard in the corner of his laundry room.........then used 2.5" long deck screws to secure it to the wall.

Closing Thoughts on this Project

The Kreg pocket screws worked well on this project.  By installing the shelves with the cabinet in the upside down position, and placing each shelf on 2 temporary pine clamped support boards, the build went very smoothly and quickly.

I suspect my grand-kids someday will be playing hide and seek inside this cabinet, so it is plenty strong enough to hold them and their friends!

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