French cleats and Firetrucks

I’m getting to the final stages of my son’s Christmas present, a hook and ladder firetruck. Not the most complicated thing in all the wide world but a fun little project. It’s now got two coats of paint and two coats of polyurethane varnish, but it takes time for the coats to dry. So I’ve tackled a few extra things I wanted to do to make my winter workshop more efficient.

Firstly, I’ve cleared the top of the wood stove and put down a piece of plywood to give me some more work bench space:

New workspace

It gives me some space to put projects whilst I’m waiting for the glue or finish to dry. I’ve glued some blocks underneath to stop the plywood moving around when I don’t want it do.

Shop Projects

I need more shelf space. The footprint is very small so I need to make the most of the space I do have. Whilst I’m at it, I need to make the most of the time I have in the workshop, currently only one day a week. So I need to be able to get tools easily and be able to put them away quickly so I don’t clutter the place up. This is going to take a lot of discipline which isn’t really my forte. With that in mind I’m building some shelves that are deliberately only deep enough to take one tool at a time. The main problem with any shelving system is it can be very limiting. So I’ve decided to use french cleats. These consist of taking some strips of wood, in my case 3″ wide, and ripping it down the middle at 45°. I did mine on the band saw as I didn’t want to brave the -10°C just to make the cuts. The strips are a little wavey, but good enough for the purpose. Then you screw one or more of the strips of wood to the wall, with bevel up and the taller side facing outwards. You then screw the other strip of wood onto the back of what ever you want to hang on the wall mirroring the wall support.

The NewWoodworker has a very good diagram:

My Grandfather left me a large shelving systems with a series of “useful boxes for putting things in”. The boxes are old Virginia tobacco tins, which now contain an assortment of screws, random nails, nuts and bolts and other miscellaneous hardware. This was the first thing to get hung on the wall as I’d tripped over the shelving system twice last week.

Andrew’s _IMG_0830 Andrew’s _IMG_0829 Andrew’s _IMG_0828

 

I’ve also added some smaller shelves to the same french cleat:

Andrew’s _IMG_0834

And here’s where today’s safety lesson comes from. So I didn’t need to use clamps on the blocks, I’d used my nail gun to pin the blocks in place. I’d loaded the gun with nails long enough to go through both the plywood top, and more than half way through the blocks. Then I started on the shelves, which are made from (approximately) 1/2″ pine. I didn’t swap the nails over for shorter nails, the nails went through the pine and plywood and the end of the nail stuck into my finger. Painful but not a complete disaster.

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