Thursday, August 15, 2013

Battling Thermodynamics: The Corner Shelf

The second law of thermodynamics says, in one phrasing, "the entropy (or 'disorder') of a closed system is (essentially) always increasing."  While a homestead (or a laboratory) may not be formally closed, personal experience tells us that these systems also tend to follow the second law of thermodynamics without a considerable effort to the contrary.  But while "the law" may ultimately win in the end, we can definitely fight it for the time being! (Just like the Bobby Fuller Four...)  To that end, we have developed a powerful new tool to fight homestead entropy: the corner shelf.  (Ok, maybe it's not that new, but we designed this version out of standard dimensional lumber and built it for much cheaper than we could find an equivalent shelf anywhere else.)

We started by building a frame of 2 x 2 lumber.  Six 6-foot 2" x 2" boards are needed for this design.  The distances between the support pieces aren't critical, we just tuned them to what we wanted to stack there.  We left 0.75" at the top for the shelf part, and we put screws in at an angle from the bottom side of the support pieces.  The support pieces have to be level, or it will look like Picasso built it!  Picasso was a huge fan of entropy; he's not on our team.

Then we made the shelf pieces out of 1 x 12" (back piece) and 1 x 4" (front piece) boards.  For six shelves, we needed one 8-foot 1 x 12" and two 8-foot 1 x 4" boards.  The sketchup model assumes that the 2 x 2" boards are actually 1.5" square, but make sure to check before cutting the square out of the back--ours were closer to 1.375.  Also, don't be confused by the wood grain in the model.  The grain in both pieces runs parallel to the longest dimension of the 1 x 4" board.
Then we put the shelves into the frame.  It looks like this from the top.  We screwed them in from the bottom with 2" screws.
When it's done, it will hopefully look something like this.

Or maybe like this if you're really tall.
Here's how the real deal looks in a corner.
And here's how it looks when it's actively fighting entropy.  All that stuff would just be in a pile on the floor if it weren't for this shelf.  Well, it might be jammed into a closet somewhere else, but that just means the shelf helps keep the whole place looking better.  Plus, that corner would have just been empty otherwise.  Although it was built for this particular corner in our old place, it fits quite nicely in a corner behind a door in our new place, too.
If you're interested in the Google Sketchup model, you can download it here, kindly hosted by OpenDrive.

What are your favorite entropy-fighting devices?  Have you made any custom-built corner shelves?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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