Not long ago, a good friend of mine wrote and asked me if I could recommend a website about how to be handy around the house. "What a coincidence," I said. "I'm starting a website just like that." Now I have to live up to that promise, so this series is for you, Kreg.
Hanging a shelf is the quintessential "handyman" task. It sits right in there on the border between "easy to do" and "easy to mess up." It's also an incredibly wonderful skill to have. I have never lived in an house that had enough shelves, especially in the workshop and the laundry room. I'm going to devote several posts to the subject. I hope you forgive me if it seems like I'm dragging it out, but I've got a lot to say.
Here's an office that I recently installed in my own home after my Patient Wife complained that she was tired of keeping her business receipts under her alarm clock. You can really count this office as four shelves, because the desk is just a great big shelf supported by filing cabinets from Walmart.
Here's what you would need in order to make an office like this:
--A drill gun
--A level (longer is better)
--Shelf and desk material
--Two filing cabinets
If the shelves and desk aren't pre-finished, you will also need:
--Paint or polyurethane
--A good brush
Now you may be wondering how much all of this will cost. The answer is, "It depends." For example, the brackets come in a range of styles and prices, from super-cheap stamped white metal all the way up to hand-forged iron. The same is true for filing cabinets; if you really want to save money, you can scour the thrift stores for dinged-up secondhand cabinets. If money is no object, you can commission a woodworker to handcraft brand-new cabinets made from rare tropical hardwood. In this office, I just went to Lowe's and Walmart and bought new brackets and cabinets in a middle-range price.
But what makes this particular office special is the quality and finish of the wood. I bought cabinet-grade walnut plywood, which I edged with some beautiful locally-milled walnut that I had left over from another project. Then I sanded it and finished it with polyurethane. That kind of joinery and finish work are a little beyond many home-makers, and the walnut really adds to the cost.
By the way, it's important to note that the file cabinets I used are specifically made to support a desk top. Notice the little top drawer. It makes the cabinet just a little bit taller and brings it up to desk level. If you use an ordinary cabinet, you may need to add blocks to the top or bottom to bring it up to desk height. (The standard height for a desk is about 29 inches, but you can adjust that to suit you.)
In the next few posts, I'll show you some similar, less expensive alternatives; but before that, I'll show you how I installed this office. Stay tuned...
Don't want to hang your shelf yourself? Call your local Asheville Handyman!
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