I’ve limped along for far too long with the absolute-fucking-piece-of-shit Ikea Expedit shelves that everyone seems to have. Simply put my lounge room as well as my records were due for an upgrade.
The construction on the Ikea units is woeful. I happened to drop a curtain rod directly down onto the top of one of mine a few years ago and punched a hole through the top surface, revealing the construction within. Guess what – they are made of corrugated goddamn cardboard. The chipboard inner sections don’t leave me with a huge amount of confidence either. Not to mention how bad they look. I also made the mistake of going with the easily scuffed white finish.
Rant aside, I decided to take advantage of a local furniture fabricator offering their CNC machine for hire and design something that would be easily put together after being cut with much greater precision that I’ll ever manage. I’ve been designing various shelves for my vinyl over the last year or so now and have finally managed to settle on a design that was the right combination of:
- Easy to construct
- Doesn’t look bad
One of my main issues with the the Expedit units are the wide shelves. I always seemed to have multiple subdivisions within each enclosure and it meant that things just weren’t as neat and tidy as I would have liked. For some this might motivate you to just buy more records in a particular style to finish out a square, but I’m a cheapskate don’t have that much money to throw into vinyl anymore. Another thing that annoyed me about the Ikea shelves was the open back design that meant records could be pushed backward the wall and out of reach. I’m fairly lazy when it comes to picking things to listen to, generally flicking around aimlessly until finding something that won’t upset me too much. With an open back design I seemed to reduce the available pool of records to listen to. As much an issue with my own laziness as the shelves.
I began with a 3d model in SketchUp as I find it very easy to get something going quickly. A little while later… model done! Adhering to my ‘expandable’ design constraint, this design can be supplemented with more middle sections etc etc to accomodate for further record buying. If I hit another wall I can simply add another corner piece and work around it. In my design each compartment is 181mm wide internally, and after accounting for the 19mm plywood you arrive at 200mm as the outer dimension for each compartment. Much smaller than the Expedit shelves and more suited to my collection.
I rank toward the bottom of the pile when it comes to CAD ability and using AutoCAD is always a real chore. Nevertheless, I wound up with a set of 4 nested 4″x8″ panels with all the pieces I needed for this build. This has been sent off to the CAD shop to await a delivery of plywood.
Anyone with a keen eye will notice that there are many internal cutouts (blue) and external dimensions (red) with right angles. How do you do this with a circular router bit? Enter the crazy world of CNC joinery. I was recommended to use a T-Bone arrangement and found that the CNC house I used are able to incorporate that automatically into the toolpath using grasshopper, a graphic programming language for Rhino 3D. The ‘patches’ wind up looking like MAX/MSP Cool shit and I like learning something new.
Anyway. That is where I am with this. As something to look forward to – Once the wood comes, the shelves are built and the records are installed in them – I’ll be performing a dissection on the Ikea Expedit shelves. Might try to borrow a chainsaw for it too.