Storage systems from marginal materials

Principle 11: Use edges and value the marginal

Living in a relatively small house (about 100m2 internally) requires smart use of space. I'm a big fan of making use of what's around me and so I've been designing storage systems within these parameters.

The Red Gum bookshelf
Shelving unit made from red gum milling off-cuts and recovered materials from bungalow deconstruction
Searching through a large stack of off-cuts from the milling operation I came across a 3.5m long piece that caught my eye. Being flat on one edge made it relatively easy to work with a power saw. I cut the length in half, squaring off the ends, and measured where I wanted the shelves to go. I used a piece of plywood clamped to the timber to give me a guide for the power saw, moving it 5mm at a time. I then used a chisel to break up the fragile wood and clean up the recess, leaving a nice clean insert for the shelves. The red gum was then sanded smooth with 40, 80 and 120 grit papers.
The shelves were selected from the old bungalow framing timber. Each piece was given a quick sand with course paper (40 grit) to clean it up. A small off-cut from one of the shelves was sanded back and used as a drill guide so that I could position the holes evenly along the red gum. Using long batten screws the shelves were fixed, given the structure enough strength that it did not require bracing.
The unit was painted with 2 coats of raw linseed oil before being positioned in the living room and fixed to the wall, so that it wont tip over and kill someone (it's heavy).

Power saw used to create rebates for shelving on a piece of red gum
Framing timber from bungalow given a quick sand to clean it up for use as shelves
A block of wood used as a drilling guide where shelves will be fixed
Red gum shelf unit under construction on a level base

Firewood and shoe cabinet

Shoes are 'not on' in our house, something that my Japanese partner insists on. So we have had a pile of shoes gathered at the front door. Along with this, I've been thinking about building a firewood box that could live on our deck near the front door. This would mean that wood could be stored out of the house, but undercover with easy access - instead of tramping out in the rain to get more mid-winter.
Combining the ideas, and building on the cellar storage system concept, I designed a rough outdoor cabinet to do the job, with four plastic drawers used below a bench that holds firewood.
The structure is built from left over timbers from the bungalow deconstruction, along with some fence palings and corrugated iron offcuts from the house build. The drawers are plastic crates that were once used for flowers at the wholesale markets, bought for A$1.50 each in bulk. Shoes are stored in the bottom two crates, with paper, and kindling stored in the two drawers above. Finished just in time for the cold season.
Another reason why I built this unit was because I wanted to measure how much firewood we use over a season. By having a unit to store wood, measuring that unit (.2m2) and then keeping track of how many times we fill it up over a season, I can work out how much timber we use. This will be useful in working out approximately how long our current wood source will last, and when we need to get more wood to season.
Firewood storage cabinet under construction
Storage cabinet stocked with firewood off-cuts with drawers below used for paper, kindling and shoes


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