Adventures in Shelf-Improvement

The adolescent laundry situation in my household reached crisis level at just the same moment I got my very own circular saw.

No, what ensued was not the Tennessee Skil Saw Massacre, but rather an epic episode of shelf-improvement.

My son’s closet had two alcoves of “dead space” where he filed a staggering inventory of ill-fitting sportswear and unlaundered dress shirts. Apparently, I bought him a new dress shirt for every bar mitzvah he ever attended. There’s no other explanation for such an accumulation of button-down gingham.

Anyway, his unleveraged closet had excellent storage potential, if only it had some shelves.

In short order and with no shortage of smug self-satisfaction, I used my new circular saw to cut sixteen cleats and eight shelves, which would fill the dead spaces that were about two feet wide by 9.25 inches deep.

Then progress slowed considerably. For the better part of a weekend, I painted,  dried, painted, dried, flipped, painted, dried, painted, dried.

Finally, I installed the cleats and shelves, using 2.5-inch finish screws and my beloved DeWalt 20-volt lithium-ion impact driver.

Six loads of laundry later, I restored order (temporarily) to a teenage bedroom. (See before-and-after photo.)

Painting not withstanding, the project was straightforward and incredibly rewarding. I’m now circling the house looking for more life-changing storage projects.

In future shelving endeavors, here are a few edits I will make:

1.  At 9.25 inches, a standard 1×10 board is just barely deep enough for a clothing shelf. Where possible, make shelves deeper. (12 inches between shelves is a good height.)

2. When measuring for width of shelf, be sure to measure both back and front of shelf space, because walls are not necessarily square and/or plumb.

3. If painting shelves, consider  starting with primed boards.

4. If painting shelves, paint boards before cutting to length. There is no need to paint the ends of the boards; furthermore, too much paint can add unnecessary width in tight spaces.

5. Finally, given that painting was by far the most time-consuming and annoying aspect of the shelf-improvement project, renounce painting altogether and build a nice cedar closet.

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