Bathroom Shelves with Towel Hooks

Several weeks ago Brandi repainted her bathroom. When we were searching online for new towel racks these shelves caught her eye.

I offered to make a version of those and we had the idea to do a whitewash to match some of the other new decor around the house. We both thought the white would look really good with the deep blue color she had painted. On a shopping trip at Menards we saw this toiler paper holder, which I said could be sanded down and whitewashed to go with the shelves.

Since it was a smaller piece it would be a good test for the whitewashing techniques. I helped her out, but Brandi did most of the work and we both liked the result, especially for our first attempt. It was done by scuffing up the wood with a wire brush and then applying thinned out paint with a small chip brush. We took it back to her house and hung it up.

In the mean time, I had started on the shelves. Since we were going for a weathered whitewash look, I milled some reclaimed lumber to 1″ thick, cut everything to size, did a rough sanding, glued, and screwed.

Some of the pieces had cool characteristics to them that would look good with the whitewash. I did some testing of paint and stain to roughly apply to the wood before whitewashing. I wanted to be able to create more of a dirty/weathered look than what we ended up with for the toilet paper holder.

Going in, I thought a gray or one of the blackish stains would be the winner. We both preferred this dark walnut.

Next, we tested with a different whitewash technique, which involved pouring thinned out paint on the wood and spreading it with a scraper. The results looked really cool.

You can see the scraper at the top of the picture below. I gave the shelves a quick coat stain, since it was going to be painted over.

When Brandi saw the stained shelves in person, she loved how the grain and imperfections of the wood were highlighted, thinking it would be a nice contrast to have some wood grain in the bathroom. So she redid the toilet paper holder and we gave it two coats of spray lacquer.

We also finished the shelves with two coats of spray lacquer. Since the plan was a weathered and whitewashed look I had only done a sanding with 40 grit and you could feel the roughness of the wood. So I did 6 coats of a wipe-on poly as well, which gave things a much better feel. Then I attached the hooks for towels and we hung them up.

Notice the mini crate I posted about the other day? Not sure what she’s going to fill it with. The stained look was definitely the right decision and looks great with the towels and decorations.

Wood Storage and Organization

My wood storage got out of control. Something had to change.

First I wanted to build a lumber rack on the opposite wall of the room. I remembered watching John Heisz make a simple one on YouTube, so I followed what he did almost exactly. I already had plywood strips the correct width, so I chopped ten to 30″ long. Then I whipped up a simple tapering jig on the bandsaw to make quick work of cutting 20 arms out of old wood.

I ran the arms through the planer and rounded them on my router table. I also rounded the plywood edges because they were rough. After a lot of repetitive gluing and screwing, the pieces were assembled.

I drilled holes and preloaded all 60 screws to make it easier to put them on the wall.

I stacked two at every other stud and loaded it up!

It’s so nice to see what I have and be able to easily access everything. I didn’t expect it to be so full already though!

Next, I wanted a rolling lumber cart for sheet goods, off-cuts, and scraps. Doing a Google image search was a bit overwhelming, but I found inspiration from several styles:

I drew up some ideas. Since I already had the lumber rack on the wall, I kept reminding myself I didn’t need space to store long boards. Originally I was set on incorporating an old drawer in my design (first picture below), but it was too limiting. Some of my design choices were dictated by only wanting to use materials I already had.

Instead of doing a final plan in SketchUp I decided to wing it, giving myself flexibility through the build. I took full advantage too by changing several things along the way.

I had bought The Auto-Jig from Armor Tool a week before, which I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. It’s worth every penny and saved a ton of time.

One morning I built the base and cut most of the plywood pieces. Then I assembled almost all of the complicated half before attaching it to the base. On day two, the second side was much easier to assemble. I used the router along with some sanding to round the sharp edges. I slapped some castors on to make it mobile. The last task was making the drawers, which I put together with a nail gun and glue.

Finally it was time to load up the cart and organize everything. Big surprise, it ended up very full!

Sorting through all of the wood was a good opportunity to purge and I ended up with a big pile for the trash.

I can actually use the room again!

Portable Soldering Station

Following up on getting the new hobby desk and organizing the room, I needed something for all of my soldering tools. A lot of the stuff on these shelves needed to be easy to pull out and use at the desk.

The portable soldering station Adam Savage built gave me some inspiration. I could make something to live in the closet when not in use and being portable would allow me to take it to the basement if needed. I measured how much floor space I had available in the closet and hauled everything down to my woodshop.

I cut up some shitty scrap plywood and started playing around with ideas.

Being able to see things in space really helped with my design process. When I had something I was happy with, I made a sketch with rough details.

When I saw it on paper, it reminded me of a wood toolbox with a handle. Makes sense, I guess, since that’s essentially what I was building. I still have a large pile of old oak flooring, so I spent about two hours milling a few pieces down to 3/8″ thick boards. Then I glued some pieces to make panels for the sides, bottom, and shelf.

I picked up a piece of 1″ (it’s actually 1 – 1/8″) oak dowel from Menards for a handle. After letting the glue dry on those panels for a few hours I cut them to size, designed the side profile, and made other pieces. I realized I need to glue up two other panels for the small shelf bottom and a cross piece on the back. I think I only had to recut one small piece that was originally the wrong size. Eventually I had all of the parts.

I sanded all of the faces with 80 grit and then used glue and a pin nailer for assembly. Since nothing here need to support a lot of weight, I went with simple butt joints.

After a quick fit check for all of the tools and supplies, it was obvious I need some way to organize the power cords, so I made a cord wrap from some scraps.

With a palm router I softened the edges everywhere and did a final sanding. Originally I was planning to use a dark stain to match the hobby room’s trim, but after seeing this put together I really liked the lighter colors and the wood grain. I skipped the stain and applied three coats of Minwax Water Based Polycrylic, sanding with a piece of paper bag after each.

I’m really happy with the decision not to use stain. The pieces I selected for the side panels have some great coloring and grain.

All of the tools and materials are easy to access and the station fits well in the closet.

A New Hobby Desk and Organization

When I was doing the wiring for the cabinet LED lighting, I remembered how much I hated the tall desk for that kind of work.

I woke up the next day and decided to get a new desk. I wanted something similar and I basically found the little brother; it’s almost identical. The old one was 4″ deeper, which I think I’ll miss.

When I was desk shopping I saw these storage bins and they sparked ideas for decluttering the area.

I had to make a modification to the desk, because the adjustable shelf couldn’t be placed in the middle. After measuring everything about five times, I made two risers to get the shelf where I wanted. You wouldn’t even notice if I didn’t point them out.

I was in the zone and decided to tackle another problem. A couple of years ago I made an overhead camera rig out of a swing arm desk lamp. The mount it came with was someone else’s mod and one wrong bump knocked it off the desk. This is what it looked like.

I made a mount to match the profile of my new desk, which hooks up and over the metal bar. This isn’t going anywhere!

Back to those storage bins. My goal was to get the hobby tools out of sight, while making them easy to access. On the bookshelf they were always piled up and I had to get off the chair to reach them. All I needed was some cardboard (from the desk’s box) and hot glue.

The second bin didn’t get dividers because everything in there is pretty big and doesn’t need dedicated space. I can always update it later if necessary. In fact I probably don’t even need the cardboard liner, but it was already made. The small bookshelf, where my tools had been, moved inside the closet. I love the cleaner look the room has.

New Air Tools and More Storage

Yesterday I picked up a used 23 gauge pin nailer. I also used a mini die grinder for the first time, which had been sitting on a shelf in the package. Both tools needed places to live, so I made spots on my air tool wall.

I stopped at Harbor Freight and bought 3 sizes of pins for the new nailer. I also had some unopened boxes of various brad nails sitting around. I took the opportunity to reorganize my bins and more than doubled capacity. Seemed like a good place to move all of the regular nails too.

I love when everything in the workshop has a home.

Gym Shelf Improvement

When I rearranged a bunch of stuff in my garage gym a free months ago I moved this shelf from an old spot.

It’s bugged me ever since because it was too close to the barbells and didn’t fit the new location. This morning a made a new shelf.

Much better!

Improved Dumbbell Storage

I have a 3-tier dumbbell rack, which works well, except for one key piece of the design. The lips that hold the top of each dumbbell aren’t really tall enough for the heavier dumbbells. Here’s a rough video showing the problem.

A 50 pound dumbbell only has to slip once or twice smashing your fingers on the bottom bracket before it’s time to come up with a fix. My solution was to cut a couple strips of plywood, notch them out to mate up with the the current lip, drill some holes, and bolt it together.

Didn’t need much extra height really. Here’s another rough video showing the improvement.

I also added a shelf for the smaller dumbbells because all of my sets don’t fit on the rack. I left space for two remaining pairs; the eights to match everything in my set from five to 40 pounds and some 60s (ordered today).

For a final touch, I created labels similar to what I made for the pulley weight stack.

Weight Plate Storage

I made a weight plate rack probably 7 years ago and it held up reasonably well with limited use.

Through the pandemic, I’ve been using my garage gym a lot and the rack was starting to fall apart. The design had two main problems:

  1. The screws (I didn’t know about wood glue back then) couldn’t support the load of plates leaning and falling against the uprights.
  2. The narrow base meant the plates could easily roll off when bumped.

So I took a bunch of measurements, looked at my scrap plywood, and modeled a new rack in SketchUp. My goals were to make construction simple, not spend any money, add spots for the kettlebell plates, and save space. Here’s what I came up with.

Originally it was one wide rack, but I ended up making it in two sections since my scrap plywood wasn’t long enough. This made assembly easier and gives me the option of storing half of the plates in a different location.

I cut all of the plywood, used wood glue and a nail gun for assembly, and sanded all of the edges. I gave it some spray paint and number stencils. I had everything I needed in my workshop so I didn’t spend a dime.

I tested with the heavier plates and quickly realized I’d failed to plan for the plates tipping to the sides; they don’t stay upright without some kind of vertical support. Also with the lightweight plywood construction, the whole thing could move depending on how many other plates are in use. Back to the drawing board. I didn’t want to throw away all my work, so I came up with a way to use 2x4s from the previous rack.

I cut slots in the 2×4 to create stable vertical supports. I only needed a single screw in each one. Then I added another piece of 2×4 across the back, double screwed to each support, to link all four together, which improved the strength a lot. Each half rack was also screwed to the wall. It works well now.

While I was at it, I removed the Plasti Dip and colored paint from the small metal plates, which had been peeling for years. Blakleen was a huge save in this process, even though it was still a mess and a lot of work. Then I primed and painted them black. They look really good, so it was worth it.

Shortcuts Rarely Save Time

After I added lighting to my broom closet, the unfinished shoe rack started to bug me. It wasn’t only that the saw marks and colors caught my eye, more than once I scraped fingers when grabbing a pair of shoes since I never sanded the edges. My time-saving shortcuts only ended up causing more work in the long run because now I had to disassemble the other shelving a second time in order to get the rack out and finish it.

I sanded the edges and used white spray paint. I also painted the piece of wood holding up the other shelves.

Much better!

Organizing my Workout Shoes

A couple of years ago I put this cheap shoe rack in my broom closet by the door out to the garage. It was out of the way and a quick place to grab my bag and shoes when I headed to the gym.

workout-shoes-before.jpeg

The rack obviously didn’t fit the space, I couldn’t see the shoes, and it was hard to grab a pair if they were not on the outside. This had been bugging me for years.

Today I set out to make something simple to fit the space. Since it’s a broom closet and I didn’t care what it looked like, I used beat up plywood. Turned out great and works exactly as I had hoped.

workout-shoes-after.jpeg

It felt good to finally make something again!