Friday, August 19, 2016

From fence to canning jar shelves

This  little essay could be called
"Reason #167 I love my cordless drill".  
In between preparing my syllabus and going to all those bazillion meetings that seem to pop up just before the beginning of a semester, I love the feeling of ripping wood apart and putting it back together in new configurations.

The fence that has come apart has been coming back together in a variety of useful new ways.  Like, as a solar dehydrator. And as Adirondack chairs.  But also, most recently, as shelves for my empty canning jars.

(We had had shelves for the spare jars before, made out of cinderblocks and scrap wood, but because of recent basement renovations including getting a new hybrid electric water heater, those shelves had to move.  And once we moved them, we realized they were falling apart. Plus, they weren't really exactly the right size for canning jars -- sort of space-inefficient plus saggy -- so making a new set of shelves is like a basement upgrade.)

At any rate, I started with two-by-fours to make a pair of ladder-y things, with the rungs spaced 9 inches apart, which happens to be just about the right separation for storing quart-sized canning jars.  The circular saw was my first friend, to get all the pieces the right size. But after I was done with the circular saw, I pulled out my BFF, the cordless drill, and started forming strong attachments.

First I made two ladder-like things. Then I stood the two ladders up with diagonal braces while I attached the fence boards-cum-shelves.

The drill: it stands at the ready.

And here are the completed shelves, empty.   (Note the diagonal brace on the back, to add stability.  The mathematician in me loves how useful triangles are!)

Here are the shelves with boxes of empty canning jars.  The quart-sized jars near the bottom of the shelf have almost no head-room (as I designed--perfecto); the pint-sized jars in  the middle have a bit of space above; the one-cup jars fit double-stacked.  This will store a lot more jars in a lot less space than before, and it also keeps everything nice and visible. I'm so happy with how this came out. 

More up-cycling is happening in here.   If you look carefully, you'll see a printer box in the middle.  I love using printer boxes for storing things, partly because they're free and abundant, partly because they're recyclable once I destroy them, and partly because they're so easy to cut down to make handles or visible openings.  I've discovered that if I cut them right at the top of the flap that folds up, they're the perfect height for quart-sized canning jars.  This means I can store the jars with a printer-box lid on top, which will help even more with keeping basement dust and dirt out.


  1. My dad once built canned good shelves and forgot to account for the height of a the shelf. D'oh. Looks like you remembered that! Those look great. I love functional upgrades.

    1. Yes, forgetting that the shelves themselves take up space is the kind of mistake that everybody makes at some point . . . and then (hopefully) learns from. And I know this because . . . um, yeah.