By Lish Dorset
When I was in elementary school reading The Indian in the Cupboard, I was fascinated with the book’s cover art. I stared – probably when I should have been reading in class – for hours at the cupboard the figurines lived in and wondered which of my toys I’d put in there. (My Strawberry Shortcake figurine collection made the most sense.) I started thinking of the book’s cover art again a few weeks ago, when I realized our living room mantle was being overtaken by dozens of Lego minifigures. They needed their own cupboard, that’s for sure. I looked at display shelves sold at hobby stores, but they didn’t have the right amount of compartments I wanted for the minifigures, like the shelf on the book’s cover. I described the idea to my boyfriend, master craft-table builder, and we quickly found ourselves rounding up the minifigs and getting them ready for their new home. Here’s how you can make one, too.
Finished Shelf: 20″x30″. You can make yours any size, but our size holds 100 pieces. One row will be smaller than the others, to show off smaller minifigs, accessories, or favorite bricks.
Sheet of luan
2 strips of 1″x2″ pinewood
Strip of 1″x1″ pinewood you may need to rip this yourself
Table saw with dado blade and standard blade
Chop saw or hand saw
Step 1: With the circular saw, start out by cutting 2 pieces of luan to 15″x30″ and 16″x20″, respectively.
Step 2: Set your table saw fence to 1 1/2″ from the blade. Cut nine 20″ luan strips and eight 30″ luan strips. You could do all of this with a circular saw – it would just take longer and be less precise. Set aside.
Step 3: Next, take your 1″x2″ pinewood strips and cut two 20″ pine pieces and two 30″ pine pieces using the chop saw (or hand saw). (You’ll have some scrap wood leftover, so save that for your next project.)
Step 4: Cut one 30″ piece of 1″x1″ pinewood.
Step 5: After that round of cutting, set your dado blade on the table saw to 11/16″x3/4″. Notch each end of the luan and pine strips. Make an additional notch in the center of all of the 20″ luan and pine strips. You are now done using the dado blade. Change to a standard table saw blade.
Step 6: It’s now time to make notches in all of the pieces so that they can be joined together to form the actual shelf. Clamp all of your 20″ luan and pine strips together. Set your table saw fence to 2″ from the blade. Run your wood along the fence to make the cut. Test your notch with a piece of scrap luan to make sure it slides in. If not, you might need to nibble the notches a bit wider with an additional pass on the table saw. Rotate the piece and repeat the same step on this end. Once this is complete, set your blade to 4″ and make a cut on each end. Repeat this again, moving to 6″ and then 8″. After 8″, the cutting is complete for these strips.
Step 7: Clamp all of your 30″ luan and pine strips together. We’re repeating the same process as the step above, but this time in 3″ intervals.
Step 8: When all of the wood has been cut, take your two 30″ pine pieces and set on a flat work surface with the cuts you made facing up. These are the sides of the shelf. Add a small dot of wood glue in each joint on the pine notches, and insert one of the 20″ luan pieces facing down.
Step 9: Move across the strips, repeating this process.
Use a rubber mallet if you have a tight fit. Let dry.
Step 9: Once the first set of joints is done drying, flip the entire piece over. Take your two 20″ pine pieces and put wood glue on the end notches you made with the dado blade. Attach to the top and bottom of the grid.
Step 10: With your 30″ luan pieces, repeat the same process of gluing the joints, as in step 9. Glue and insert the 30″ piece of 1″x1″ pinewood into the center notches of the 20″ luan strips.
Step 11: Clamp the entire piece and let it dry based on the wood glue’s suggested drying time.
Step 12: After the piece is done drying, you’re now ready to paint the shelf. Prime first and let it dry completely. Add 1-2 coats of spray paint and let it dry before hanging (or adding the minifigs!).
Step 13: You’re done! Hang the shelf just like you would any picture – add your own hooks, if you like.
About the Author:
Lish Dorset loves to craft and inspire others around her craft (including her cat Ronnie), too. She’s a former staff writer for CRAFT and a lover of Maker Faire. A lifelong Michigan resident, Lish’s work can be found at Killing It As A Groun-Up. While she loves all crafting mediums, she spends most of her time sewing, quilting, and finding ways to involve a glass of wine in her projects.