Custom shelving unit

By | 24/04/2014
Shelving unit in place

Photo: Thomas Winther

My friends Hugo and Anja needed a shelving unit with several sizing and fitting constraints. Having seen and liked the box design I used on my Little Bzzztrd synth/noisemaker, Hugo asked me if I could help them out. You can see the final result in the picture above; more details below.

The unit is made from the same material as the Little Bzzztrd boxes, Valchromat – a type of HDF (High Density Fibreboard). I deliberately made the joints such a tight fit that I had to hammer the parts together. This resulted in a sturdy construction in and of itself, but as an extra structural backup, I used glue and wood screws to hold the back wall on.

Getting the joints tight enough to achieve that hammer fit – and still be able to actually assemble the parts – required high precision when drawing the unit. There was a noticeable difference even when making as small adjustments as 7 to 8 hundredths of a millimeter. Good thing I was using Rhinoceros, which makes working at this precision level a breeze :-)

Even if Rhinoceros’ (Rhino among friends) primary domain is 3D modelling, I think its 2D capabilities are far superior to most dedicated 2D applications I’ve tried. This is especially true when it comes to accuracy and ease of use. Here are some of the 2D parts in Rhino:

2D drawing of parts in RhinocerosAfter drawing the parts in 2D, I tested that everything fitted together as it should by extruding the 2D parts to 3D and assembling them in Rhino. Good thing I did, too – since I discovered a couple of things that had to be changed!

3D extruded and assembled parts

Next came milling the parts out – and then, with one assembling/hammering session and several rounds of sanding and painting, I went from this…

Shelving unit parts

Photo: Thomas Winther

…to the final unit in this post’s main picture.

Now, a couple of images highlighting the sizing and fitting constraints I mentioned earlier. The unit had to fit around this hatch without blocking it…

Shelving unit fitting snugly around service hatch

Photo: Thomas Winther

…under this control box and into the corner next to the doorway.

Shelving unit fitting under control box

Photo: Thomas Winther

And finally, painting these corner joints proved the most challenging part of the job:

Corner joint

Photo: Thomas Winther

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