I’m going to start this post by flopping a couple things right out there on the table:
- I am very, very proud of myself for making this shelving unit, and you might get annoyed with me as I puff up my chest in self-satisfaction throughout this post;
- It is much harder than it looks; and
- Although I take credit for the actual planning, prepping and construction of this particular unit, I really did get the idea from The Brick House, a blog that is much, much better than mine. Check it out for materials lists and stuff.
I want to tell you the harrowing tale of the planning and construction of this thing… not just to revel in my success and to stroke my vanity (chest… puffing…), but also as a public service announcement for those who would like to also plan and construct this thing.
First, let’s visit The Brick House blog, and point out a couple of things that I idiotically chose to glean over in the ”bordering on sexual-level” of excitement that occurred within my loins when I decided to construct this unit:
Yeah… she says right in the post that it was a super-huge monstrous unforgiving mega-bitch to make… and being a stubborn and “focused” (read: obsessive) person, I just put my stupid head down like a damn bull and starting forcing myself through this process like an idiot.
That being said, I am really good at preparing for things, and spend a LOT of time working out the correct math for my specific wall measurements. I wanted the unit to be custom built around the reclaimed barn board table I had made a couple of years ago, and I managed to fit that sucker in there like a glove. You also have to be SUPER DUPER careful when you measure and drill the holes in the planks to feed in the black piping… because if you screw that shit up… you have to start the whole wood process all over again.
Do not try to decipher my complex mathematical code.
Alllright. First things first. You’d THINK that the materials required to construct the shelf would be readily available. Black pipe, some elbowies and flangies and fittings. And some wood. You’d THINK. The Brick House post seems to indicate that they are easy to get… not unlike walking into a store and getting different sizes of shoes, or maybe buying delicious coconuts at the store.
HA HA HA. Not so fast, you!
First, I recommend you call all of the three Home Depots within driving distance of Toronto and ask them if they have pipe. BEFORE you drive to them all. Because sometime they don’t stock them so frequently. Just sayin’.
And, I mean, black 1/2 inch pipe IS “easy” to get. It is “easy” to get a 10-foot long piece of black pipe, a 24-inch piece, or a 6-inch piece. But to get 6 – 12″, 7 – 18″, 1 – 32″, 3 – 30″, 1 – 43″, 14 – 8″, and 4 – 9″… is not that easy. And I know, because I’m a very focused and resourceful person, and I called EVERY plumbing supply place in Toronto.
YOU NEED TO GET A TEN FOOT PIPE, AND HAVE EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF PIPE INDIVIDUALLY CUT.
Which means you have to go into Home Depot, and ask the very surly Home Depot service man to spend THREE HOURS cutting 4 ten-foot long pieces of pipe into small little pieces, then individually threading each and every pipe end, while trying to answer other customers’ questions. I’m pretty sure that the guy spent 2 hours and 30 minutes fantasizing about whipping me “pinata-style” in the face with each of the carefully cut and threaded pipes.
Note that you have to wash and spray paint the pipe, which is dirty and greasy and messy and takes longer than you’d think. But don’t they look pretty!???
Second, the wood. You need to get planed pine planks that are 1″ x 12″ - two planks at 6 foot (cut down to 4′ 3″ for my measurements) and two planks at 10 feet (cut down to 8′ 10″ for my measurements). The six foot plank was a breeze – just go to Home Depot and pick that shizz up.
The ten foot plank? Nope. Nice try. It’ll take more effort than that. Home Depot… and I mean all three Home Depots within driving distance of downtown Toronto… don’t sell 1″ x 12″ planks longer than 8 feet. Nope. HA HA HA. You so crazy, Home Depot.
Of course, you’ll have to spend an entire morning calling home improvement stores and lumber yards trying to find the right plank dimensions. Oh, and make sure you ask for “planed” planks, not “rough” planks. Because they might leave out that important piece of information, then when you drive all the way to the damn store and they show you the plank, it looks like it got chewed up by a rabid silver back gorilla, and it will give you a billion splinters.
That fucker hurt.
But then I found Danforth Lumber, who are AMAZING and totally friendly and hooked me up with a ten footer. And cut it for me.
OH YEAH ONE MORE THING. Make sure you communicate the length really, really carefully. Because the guy cutting the wood might think you said “8 foot” instead of “8 foot 10 inches”, and you might not realize it until after you brought it home, minutes before you start staining the wood, and you might have to drive all the way back to the East End to Danforth to get another 10 foot pine plank. And they might not have any left, and might have to spend 1 hour digging some out from waaaaaaay back in the “miscellaneous wood pile”
Then you have to sand, stain, and varnish the wood. Get ready to breathe in poisonous fumes for two days, unless, that is, you have a covered outdoor space that would shield the wood from… oh I don’t know… a snowstorm. Which I did not. So the stained and varnished wood sat in my family room for two days.
Also – and this is the last thing I’ll say - make sure you buy a 7/8′ inch drill bit, not a 3/4′ bit like it says in the post. 3/4′ is too small. And make sure you drill a pilot hole before trying to drill out that bitch of a huge hole, or else wood chips will explode into your eyeballs and the drill bit will get jammed up and you will be scared that the bit will detach from the drill and fly into your skull.
Seriously, though, enough complaining.
It really is getting everything bought and prepped that makes this thing really really hard. Putting it together was a breeze. It just all screws together like a tinker toy. Tami came over to help, because she is wonderful. The whole process (including pancake-eating) took about 2 hours.
Tami is wonderful!
Not only can I construct shelving units, but I can also make banana-pecan pancakes from scratch. Dream woman, I know.
I do not recommend you take the “one footer” approach to ladder-standing like Tami does.
I assure you that I drill with much more hutzpah than this picture would indicate. Also, for some reason I look like a butt-ugly hippie-man in this photo, when in reality I am an ethereal woman-nymph.
I’m not going to lie, I felt like a super-amazing, strong independant woman when the whole mofo was all installed and ready to be all vignetted up.
She is very sparse right now, and I have big plans for my upcoming vignette… some Scheurich vases, maybe? Some graphic prints? THE WORLD IS MY VIGNETTING OYSTER.