Optimizing Shop Space (or: A Corner Shelf From Scrap)



There is a corner in my shop that is more or less dead space. For some reason its too small to fit any machines in, and all kind of Use-it-once-a-month stuff finds it’s way there. I don’t have enough room in my shop to waste any space, and this space was crying to get filled with something for quite a while. I can’t put a filing cabinet or any conventional kind of shelf in there; its just too small an area.

About a month ago, one of the contractors at work sold me a small pile of plate steel for what amounts to beer money. I have been sitting on about 600 LBS of 7/16″ fish plate in varying shapes. I had one 36″ round that looked like it would be a good candidate  for a corner shelf, if it was quartered.



corner shelf 003


Heres the slab. It was too heavy to wrestle on the band saw, and I figured it was just the kind of job I bought the plasma cutter for. I have had the Lotos LTP5000D for over a year now, and have only used it for some light sheet metal cutting, and to be honest I’m still getting my feet wet with it. This would be a good test for some thicker material. I clamped some angle to it to use as a cutting guide.


corner shelf 001


Heres the hardware, a Lotos LTP5000D, a pilot arc plasma cutter. I found that it cuts better using 220 volts than it does on 110, and about 75 PSI of air works best. I don’t remember what the duty cycle is, but I usually have to re-position my hand before it stops cutting.


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I stopped after a minute to check the progress, and it looked to be cutting pretty cleanly. I can see that I will have to come up some kind of guide system that follows a straight edge better. My cuts wander a bit, and the torch catches on nicks in the angle.


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Here we are about 20 minutes into the job. I have some clean-up on the edges to do but the slab is cut, and………………


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the raw materials are in the shop. I need to cut some stout angle iron for the legs. I plan to put levelers on the three legs. The three shelves will be simply welded to the angles at (tentatively) 13″ intervals. That will be enough space for gallon cans of thinner etc. and some of the heavier fixtures for my Bridgeport and Horizontal mill that I don’t use much. The shelves will be welded to the angle, and should be plenty heavy duty enough (and roomy enough) for my arbor press. I don’t use the press enough to warrant a spot on my bench, which is where it has been sitting for a while now. The Twilight Zone corner will be just the spot for it.


More later………………………


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I though it might  be a good idea to have some adjusters on the three legs, so that I could level the shelves. The corners of my shop are not dead level, and I suspect I’ll need these. Basically, these are just screw jacks the will have stout pads on them; very basic stuff.


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I lopped off three slugs from a bar of 1 inch cold rolled, and threaded them to 3/8-16, along with the L brackets.


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The pads got welded to the studs with the MIG welder.


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The L brackets got squared and all set to uniform length, and welded to the uprights. I welded shelf brackets on at the same time. The next step is to weld the whole mess together. I suspect the easiest way to assemble the unit will be to first weld the legs to the top (upside down), and build it from top to bottom. We’ll see; I have to clean my welding table off first.


7/29/14 UPDATE:

Well, as you can see; this project has not been an urgent priority with me, but the other night I had one of the legs tip over and smash my knee, so its time to finish this thing up.


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The first thing to do was to grind some of the diamonds off  what will be the bottom of the shelves, so that they sit flat against the shelf braces.


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I’m building this upside down, so that I can make sure all the shelves are level to the top. The trick is to tack the corners of the legs, and then the outer edges of the angle while keeping an eye on the square. this way all the legs are square to the top. Nit-Pickey work for sure, and more than one tack had to be cut and re-tacked before I was done.


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With the top final welded in place, the rest of the shelves fell right into place and got tacked.


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I did a quick level check before I did the final welding and all looked good.


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A quick coat of Rustoleum Smoke grey (just to annoy my friend Rich), and it was time to quit for the night. Thats the press (in the background) that will sit on top of the shelf when it gets to its final destination.


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This is a spacer block for the front of the press. The through slot of the ram needs to be beyond the front edge of the table, and the front legs of the press will be hanging in the breeze. This spacer will keep the press level.


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A couple of countersunk holes, and its ready to be installed.


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Next, I need some bolts for the rear of the press. I didn’t have any bolts long enough, so I welded up some quick-bolts from some all-thread.


corner shelf 3 002


This is just a quick way to have made-to-length bolts for just about any situation. Fits my needs, anyway.




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After maybe a year of tripping over the parts, its finally in place.


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I put some of my not so frequently used stuff on the shelves for ballast. This corner is known as the Dead Zone, and collects seldom used tools. Even with this much weight on the shelves, it seemed like it might tip if I really leaned hard on the press lever, so I decided to install a safety chain through the hole in the press, and bolt it to the wall.


corner shelf 3 009


OK; thats one more job finished up, and some more junk off the floor. The press is now fixed in place, and I don’t have to haul the thing off the floor and clamp it to my workbench (truth is: I used to just leave it on my bench). The bench is now clear, and I don’t need to fiddle with the press so that I can use it. Good deal

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